Sea Change CoderDojo Future Ocean Junior Winner Game: "Wildlife Awareness"

By: Ciara Heanue

More than 90 species of marine fish in Europe’s waters are threatened with extinction, according to a European Red List of Marine Fishes report published in 2015 by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Anthropogenic factors like pollution, coastal development, offshore oil and gas extraction, and mining are putting European fisheries at risk. However, industrial-scale fishing and the economic pressures of a growing globalised seafood market is thought to be the main reason more species are under threat of extinction. The question of sustainable seafood is complex and has many dimensions to it like: what species are caught in certain locations, what fishing methods are used, and whether the catches are monitored appropriately to ensure compliance to catch quotas.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO): “About one billion people largely in developing countries rely on fish as their primary animal protein source” (that is one in seven humans on the planet). In addition to providing food, the fishing sector provides valuable employment for millions of workers across the world. As global human populations continue to increase, wild fish and shellfish populations of commercially-captured species can no longer support the demand for seafood products. Aquaculture is the cultivation of aquatic animals and plants, especially fish, shellfish, and seaweed, in natural or controlled marine or freshwater environments. Aquaculture is seen by many as an option to help relieve pressure on wild fish stocks by providing an alternative efficient means of protein production. However, it is still a relatively young food production sector compared with agriculture and there are concerns about some practices and environmental impacts. The sector recognises the challenges and there is currently a lot of investment in creating new knowledge and technology to help overcome potential bottlenecks to the growth of the sector as well as alleviating concerns about its environmental impacts.

What seafood YOU choose to eat can help alleviate the pressures on vulnerable fish stocks, preventing their depletion. Sustainable seafood is caught or farmed in a manner that enables production of that seafood to be maintained in the long-term. If WE act now, some threatened fish stocks can be saved!

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360 Depletion

The Problem:

More than 90 species of marine fish in Europe’s waters are threatened with extinction, according to a European Red List of Marine Fishes report published in 2015 by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Anthropogenic factors like pollution, coastal development, offshore oil and gas extraction, and mining are putting European fisheries at risk. However, industrial-scale fishing and the economic pressures of a growing globalised seafood market is thought to be the main reason more species are under threat of extinction. The question of sustainable seafood is complex and has many dimensions to it like: what species are caught in certain locations, what fishing methods are used, and whether the catches are monitored appropriately to ensure compliance to catch quotas.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO): “About one billion people largely in developing countries rely on fish as their primary animal protein source” (that is one in seven humans on the planet). In addition to providing food, the fishing sector provides valuable employment for millions of workers across the world. As global human populations continue to increase, wild fish and shellfish populations of commercially-captured species can no longer support the demand for seafood products. Aquaculture is the cultivation of aquatic animals and plants, especially fish, shellfish, and seaweed, in natural or controlled marine or freshwater environments. Aquaculture is seen by many as an option to help relieve pressure on wild fish stocks by providing an alternative efficient means of protein production. However, it is still a relatively young food production sector compared with agriculture and there are concerns about some practices and environmental impacts. The sector recognises the challenges and there is currently a lot of investment in creating new knowledge and technology to help overcome potential bottlenecks to the growth of the sector as well as alleviating concerns about its environmental impacts.

What seafood YOU choose to eat can help alleviate the pressures on vulnerable fish stocks, preventing their depletion. Sustainable seafood is caught or farmed in a manner that enables production of that seafood to be maintained in the long-term. If WE act now, some threatened fish stocks can be saved!

What Can We Do?

What seafood YOU choose to eat can help alleviate the pressures on vulnerable fish stocks, preventing their depletion. Sustainable seafood is caught or farmed in a manner that enables production of that seafood to be maintained in the long-term. If WE act now, some threatened fish stocks can be saved!

Tip 1: Make smart consumer choices. Only eat sustainable seafood. There are plenty of seafood guides available online which tell you what seafood is good for you and the planet, and what isn’t. Some supermarkets pride themselves on ensuring the seafood they sell is from sustainable sources.

Tip 2: Learn more about the fishing and aquaculture sectors so you can make informed choices as a consumer.

Tip 3: Ask your restaurant if the fish they are serving is a sustainable resource. Even asking the question may cause them to investigate sourcing sustainable seafood in the future.

Tip 4: Buy seafood that has certification stating it is sustainable, for example it holds the Marine Stewardship seal of approval: https://www.msc.org/, ASC Aquaculture Production: http://www.asc-aqua.org/, The Fair Trade Capture Fisheries Standard: http://fairtradeusa.org/certification/standards/download-center , Food Alliance: http://foodalliance.org/shellfish, Friend of the Sea http://www.friendofthesea.org/about-us.asp?ID=9.

Useful Resources:

360 Pollution

The Problem:

One of the main pressures affecting the marine environment today results from the release and subsequent negative effects of contaminants into marine environments. Contaminants are defined in EU legislation as: “substances (i.e. chemical elements and compounds) or groups of substances that are toxic, persistent and liable to bioaccumulate and other substances or groups of substances which give rise to an equivalent level of concern” (Water Framework Directive, Article 2(29)).

Contaminants causing particular concern include pesticides, pharmaceutical agents (e.g. antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), analgesic drugs, lipid-lowering drugs, oestrogen-containing medication), heavy metals (e.g. mercury, arsenic, lead) and anti-foulants (e.g. from paint used on the bottom of a boats to prevent fouling).

Contamination of the marine environment arises from direct releases, land-based river runoff or atmospheric deposition. Contaminant pollution can result in serious adverse effects on ecosystems and eventually on human health through the process of ‘bioaccumulation’. Bioaccumulation begins with contamination of animals low in the marine food chain, which are then eaten in large quantities by bigger predatory animals. Toxins bioaccumulate in prey and are then passed on to animals (usually a larger fish or marine mammals) that prey on them which, in turn, may be consumed by an even larger animal. These contaminants increase in concentration as they climb the food chain through a process known as “biomagnification” until finally, a contaminated animal may be consumed by a human being.

Different chemicals affect human health in different ways. It is believed that sufficient consumption of contaminated food could lead to human health problems, for example hormonal problems, reproductive problems, nervous system damage and kidney damage.

What Can We Do?

Tip 1: Keep your sewer drains free from rubbish and toxic chemicals. Reduce the use of hazardous chemicals by choosing environmentally friendly household cleaners, pesticides and fertilisers.

Tip 2: Dispose of chemicals and items containing chemicals properly. Most communities have recycling centres that will accept used oil and other chemicals for recycling.

Tip 3: Never pour any oil or other chemicals onto the ground or into drains.  Many of these chemicals eventually make their way to the ocean. 

Tip 4: Consume less pesticide-dependant foods to reduce the amount of pesticides used or go organic.

Tip 5: Do not discharge sewage from boats into coastal waters. Use pump-out stations. Report any malicious dumping that you witness to the local Environment Agency.  

Tip 6: Become informed about manufacturing processes and "clean" alternatives to products. 

Tip 7: Consider growing an ocean friendly garden that will revive our under-hydrated watershed and polluted ocean. More details on this on the Surfrider Foundation website: http://www.surfrider.org/programs/ocean-friendly-gardens  

Tip 8: Dispose of unused medicines responsibly; do not throw them in the rubbish or flush them down the toilet. Return them to your local pharmacy or collection centre. 

Useful Resources:

• Check out this fantastic “Think Before You Flush” campaign by Clean Coasts http://thinkbeforeyouflush.org/ 

• Read up on some homemade, non-toxic bathroom cleaners at: http://inhabitat.com/how-to-green-clean-your-bathroom-without-toxic-chemicals/ 

• This Green Boating Guide by OceanSMART outlines some of the steps mariners can take to minimise environmental impacts: http://www.bucksuzuki.org/images/uploads/docs/GBGweb2012.pdf 

 

One of the main pressures affecting the marine environment today results from the release and subsequent negative effects of contaminants into marine environments. Contaminants are defined in EU legislation as: “substances (i.e. chemical elements and compounds) or groups of substances that are toxic, persistent and liable to bioaccumulate and other substances or groups of substances which give rise to an equivalent level of concern” (Water Framework Directive, Article 2(29)).

Contaminants causing particular concern include pesticides, pharmaceutical agents (e.g. antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), analgesic drugs, lipid-lowering drugs, oestrogen-containing medication), heavy metals (e.g. mercury, arsenic, lead) and anti-foulants (e.g. from paint used on the bottom of a boats to prevent fouling).

Contamination of the marine environment arises from direct releases, land-based river runoff or atmospheric deposition. Contaminant pollution can result in serious adverse effects on ecosystems and eventually on human health through the process of ‘bioaccumulation’. Bioaccumulation begins with contamination of animals low in the marine food chain, which are then eaten in large quantities by bigger predatory animals. Toxins bioaccumulate in prey and are then passed on to animals (usually a larger fish or marine mammals) that prey on them which, in turn, may be consumed by an even larger animal. These contaminants increase in concentration as they climb the food chain through a process known as “biomagnification” until finally, a contaminated animal may be consumed by a human being.

Different chemicals affect human health in different ways. It is believed that sufficient consumption of contaminated food could lead to human health problems, for example hormonal problems, reproductive problems, nervous system damage and kidney damage.

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About the Project

Sea Change is an EU H2020 funded project that aims to establish a fundamental “Sea Change” in the way European citizens view their relationship with the sea, by empowering them, as Ocean Literate citizens, to take direct and sustainable action towards a healthy ocean, healthy communities and ultimately a healthy planet.

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Our Ocean, Our Health

The ocean makes planet Earth a habitable place to live and the marine environment is a source of vital human health benefits.

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Consortium

The Sea Change consortium consists of 17 partners from nine different countries, coordinated by the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom.

This consortium, which comprises nine public research organisations, one SME, five non profit organisations and two higher education institutions, brings together selected experts to collectively provide the knowledge, competence, skills and facilities needed for ensuring a good project development, the achievement of project objectives and the successful delivery of project results.

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