January 2022 Research Summaries and Sustainability Tips

Updated: Apr 4

Happy fourth birthday to Everblue! Here's to another year of research summaries and sustainability tips. Read on to learn about aquafeed, carbon dioxide, climate resilience, and shark finning.

JANUARY 6: RESEARCH SUMMARY - ALGAL AQUAFEED

Scientists in Iceland have been working with marine microalgae to produce a sustainable and nutritious aquafeed for aquaculture, instead of using fishmeal. Normally, microalgae can’t be used as aquafeed because of its low lipid and protein content; farmed fish species such as the Atlantic Salmon need a high lipid and protein diet to grow appropriately and to produce offspring.


To fix this problem, Icelandic scientists added lipids and proteins to microalgal cell walls to make them healthier! In this way, they have created a “whole-cell-microalgae” aquafeed. This study shows that on a 73-78.9% algal diet alone, Atlantic Salmon can grow sufficiently in aquaculture. Successfully using reared microalgae as aquafeed will protect both marine and terrestrial ecosystems, and hopefully, increase wild fish biomass as well.


RESEARCH: Northern Icelandic marine microalgae as health promoting multi-functional feed protein and lipid source for Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salsa) - A whole algae concept. Bettina Schulz. 2021.


JANUARY 7: SUSTAINABILITY TIP - SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD

We can help promote sustainable aquaculture by being intentional with what seafood we buy. We all know that we should be reading labels at the store to see if our seafood is ethically and sustainably sourced, but here are a few other ways you can increase your sustainable seafood game!

Person holding a box of Chicken of the Sea  oysters.

1. Do your research on the companies you see on the shelf! Some companies such as Chicken of the Sea have taken great steps towards sustainable seafood practices. Chicken of the Sea even has a tracking feature on their website, where you can see exactly where your seafood is coming from.

2. Eat local seafood caught by fisheries that are focused on preserving fishing grounds and other marine habitats.

3. Eat varied! Following the fishing seasons allows for fished species to have a break to migrate, spawn, and grow to maturity.

4. Go for shellfish that has been grown on lines, racks, or nets. Because these are suspended in the water, they minimize the damage that harvesting has on benthic habitats.

5. Stay informed! Seafood Watch is a great resource to update yourself on what species you should and should not be eating.


JANUARY 13: RESEARCH SUMMARY - CLIMATE SOLUTIONS

So, what do we do to solve the excess carbon problem? A 2017 review paper showed that nature itself can provide a big part of the solution. These are called “natural climate solutions.” Researchers found that by using 20 studied natural climate solutions in conservation, restoration, and improved land management of forests, wetlands, and grasslands, we can increase natural carbon storage and/or avoid greenhouse gas emissions. If all of these actions are used, they could provide over a third of the solution needed to prevent catastrophic warming by 2030.

Rocks with trees off the coast.
Daniel Bommarito (@bommaritofineart)

RESEARCH: Natural Climate Solutions. Griscom et al. 2017.


JANUARY 14: SUSTAINABILITY TIP - REDUCING CO2

Okay, ready to hear why your individual actions really DO matter in the fight to protect our planet? By aligning your actions with your values, you’re sending a message to others that you are willing to go the extra mile to make changes for the betterment of our environment and ocean. Others may in turn be inspired to change their actions, and so on, creating a beautiful ripple effect. Everyone making small changes can add up to a much bigger overall impact than what you alone can do! Plus, when lots of people start demanding change, it’s going to encourage politicians to make those bigger systemic changes we so desperately need.


The big takeaway is this: It’s important for everyone to keep fighting for the health of Planet Ocean, but if you are one of the many people experiencing a lot of climate anxiety, don’t add to it by stressing over whether you’re shopping 100% plastic free. Do whatever you’re able, and use your voice to encourage others!


According to the numbers, these are the 5 actions that you as an individual can take that will have the biggest impact on lowering your carbon footprint:

  1. Have fewer children (if you are at the life stage where you are thinking about starting a family, or consider adopting or fostering!)

  2. Drive less, or if you do, drive electric.

  3. Fly less.

  4. Be more energy efficient at home by improving your house’s insulation and installing solar panels.

  5. Switch to a plant-based diet.

If you’re looking for more discussion on this subject, or more suggestions on the best ocean-protecting individual changes you can make, listen to the @how2saveaplanet episode called “Is your carbon footprint BS?”


SOURCE: How to Save a Planet podcast, Is Your Carbon Footprint BS?


JAN 20 RESEARCH SUMMARY: ATTRIBUTES OF RESILIENCE

When thinking about how the world can prepare for and cope with extreme weather, rising sea level, and loss of biodiversity that we already know will happen in the future, it’s important to think about resiliency. But what do we mean when we talk about “resiliency” while discussing the climate crisis?


The International Panel on Climate Change defines climate resiliency as “a system’s capacity to anticipate and reduce, cope with, and respond to and recover from external disruptions.” This encompasses both the environment’s ability to resist and recover as well as the ability of human institutions and individuals to cope with and adapt to disturbances that come about from our changing climate.


So, what does this mean? In order to be the most resilient world we can be when facing the climate crisis, we need to focus on boosting both the ocean’s ecological resilience and our community resilience on land. In a paper published last year, scientist Julia G. Mason outlined five key parts of climate resilience that can be measured across natural ecosystems, governments, and socio-economical systems.


Five Key Attributes of Climate Resilience:

  1. ASSETS - Resources that are available to buffer the impacts of climate change.

  2. FLEXIBILITY - The ability to switch strategies and make adjustments should we need to.

  3. ORGANIZATION - The networks and institutions that we have set in place to support social and ecological relationships.

  4. LEARNING - The process of recognizing and identifying change, as well as analyzing our past responses.

  5. AGENCY - Freedom for people to make and act on choices.


By increasing and improving all of these five key areas, we can increase both the ocean’s and society’s resilience in the face of climate change!


RESEARCH: Attributes of climate resilience in fisheries: From theory to practice. Julia G. Mason et al. 2021.


JANUARY 21: SUSTAINABILITY TIP - BUILDING RESILIENCE

From the previous research paper, we learned that in order to increase our world’s resilience to climate change, we have to focus on building strong, diverse, connected systems in both the ocean and society. But how do we build resiliency?

Person talking on their cellphone about conservation and restoration projects in their area.

To build ocean resiliency, start by supporting diverse marine habitats! Call your local council or representatives to see what conservation or restoration projects might be happening in your area, and advocate for protection of important habitats like seagrass beds, coastal salt marshes, mangrove forests, and coral reefs that house diverse species. If no such projects exist in your area, you can support or donate to grassroots (or seagrass-roots!) organizations like Project Seagrass that are actively doing work to protect diverse habitats, and donate your voice or your money to help them succeed. You can also check out the United Nations Ecosystem Restoration Implementers Hub for more organizations.


To build your community’s resilience, vote for diverse leadership at the local, state, and national level! And, make sure to always hold elected leadership accountable - according to Mason et al.’s paper that we covered previously, transparent and accountable organizations are more resilient because they have increased efficiency and effectiveness.


To build your own personal resilience, practice learning something new and changing your mind! The reality is that in the day and age of the Anthropocene (the time in the planet’s history that is affected by humans,) as we move into the future, we are going to have to constantly learn to be flexible and adaptive to deal with the challenges the climate crisis throws our way. Did you learn yesterday that bamboo products are better for the environment than plastic, but then learned that overharvesting bamboo might not necessarily be sustainable either? No worries! It’s not the end of the world to learn, change your mind, and try something new - that’s what sustainable living and resiliency is all about.


We hope that this will help you think about how to increase resiliency in our ocean, our communities, and our individual lives. Let us know in the comments on this blog what you’re doing to increase resiliency!


JANUARY 27: RESEARCH SUMMARY - SHARKS ARE FRIENDS, NOT FOOD

Why is shark finning so devastating for shark populations? Sharks are similar to humans in that they have long lifespans, they reach sexual maturity at a later age, and they give birth to a small amount of young at a time. This means that they are incredibly vulnerable to overfishing, since their populations can’t bounce back as quickly as smaller fishes.

Infographic about shark finning, the practice of cutting off a shark's fins. Sharks fin can sell for up to $307 per pound, and an estimated 273 million sharks are killed each year.

Moreover, the bigger problem with shark finning is that our estimates of how many sharks are killed each year might not be accurate. A lot of sharks are caught as “bycatch” of swordfish and tuna fishing (bycatch are any animals caught that are not the targeted species) and most reported catch numbers do not account for bycatch. It’s currently estimated that 273 million sharks are killed each year, but the true number could be much larger.


This study published in 2019 took DNA samples of illegal shark fin seizures from unreported catches and found at least 20 different species present in a seizure of 747 fins. Nine of the species found are listed as threatened or endangered under the IUCN Red List. This shows that unreported and illegal shark fishing could account for far more of a negative impact on shark populations than what is estimated based on available catch data.


Research Paper: DNA-based species identification of shark finning seizures in Southwest Atlantic: Implications for wildlife trade surveillance and law enforcement. Bruno Lopes da Silva Ferrette et al. 2019.


JANUARY 28: SUSTAINABILITY TIP - SIGN TO STOP SHARK FINNING

We’ve what shark finning is, why people do it, and why it is so detrimental to important shark populations. Now, it’s time to end shark finning. If you live in the European Union, you can vote to end the shark fin trade in the European Union in their petition to bring a measure before the European Commission to stop the shark fin trade in Europe!


This vote is important because it will create a concrete legislative amendment to stop the trade of shark fins in European countries. The more support this initiative has, the more likely it will be adopted by the European Commission. If you don’t live in the EU, don’t worry - you can still help by sharing content from Stop Finning EU and spreading the word so people in the EU learn about this important initiative! So what are you waiting for? Sign and share away!


9 views0 comments