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Author Topic: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD  (Read 549351 times)

kassy

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #2000 on: March 29, 2020, 01:36:08 PM »
Europe’s lucrative, illegal, trade in sea cucumbers is booming

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Until 2014, these slimy, slow-moving creatures were only used as fishing bait in southern Spain, but then word spread that their dried body walls were a prized delicacy called bêche-de-mer, and even considered an aphrodisiac, in places like China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan.

Some 10,000 tonnes of dried sea cucumber are traded internationally, the equivalent of 200 million live animals, each year – and that doesn't include aquafarming. As the once-ample supply of sea cucumbers starts to dwindle in the Indo-Pacific, fishermen in Spain are racing to pluck the unassuming creatures from the seafloor. Close behind them are a cadre of less nautically-inclined opportunists: drug dealers eager to cash in on the booming trade.

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The soaring demand among its growing middle class has all but depleted the regional stocks in the last few decades and driven fisheries to the Mediterranean and northeastern Atlantic Ocean where sea cucumber fisheries are generally not regulated. A global analysis by Steven Purcell, an expert on sea cucumbers at Australia’s Southern Cross University, found that 70 per cent of the world’s fisheries were already fully or over-exploited in 2011. The much-favoured Japanese spiky sea cucumber, for example, has been exploited throughout its natural range and is considered endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The species is now being bred and cultivated on a large scale.

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Sea cucumbers may appear to be simple, inconspicuous creatures but they are the vacuum cleaners of the ocean. They brush their sticky tentacles along the sandy seabed and stuff a mixture of silt, decaying algae and other waste particles into their mouths. Similar to their above-ground counterparts, the earthworms, sea cucumbers perform the thankless task of recycling decomposing matter and bacteria and pooping it out as clean sand.

Because sea cucumbers rely on external fertilisation for reproduction, illegal exploitation can cause local populations to collapse. Males release their sperm into the water and females release their eggs at the same and they need to be close enough to each other for fertilisation to occur. In areas where mature animals have been overfished, the few eggs and sperm find it difficult to reach each other.

The cascading effects on marine ecosystems become apparent within months.

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Holothuria arguinensis can grow to 40 cm and normally feed among the sand, mud and seagrass meadows of the lagoon. At one of the study sites, González-Wangüemert was shocked to find only two individuals per hectare during the summer of 2018 where she had observed some 200 just six months before. Parts of the shallow lagoon that used to be filled with sea grass are now devoid of plant life: “It’s completely covered in mud. If you touch the bottom with your hands, it’s impossible to see anything,” she says. All that is left is a smell of rotten eggs by hydrogen sulfide-producing bacteria in the oxygen-depleted water.

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Their investigations have also led to the rooftop of a city centre building and, in May 2019, to a Chinese restaurant where 340 kg of dried sea cucumbers and nearly 300 seahorses – a protected animal – were ready to be exported internationally. Sea cucumbers weigh ten times more when they are alive so the rough maths would add up to some 18,000 individuals.

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/sea-cucumbers-spain-trade
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Paddy

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #2001 on: March 30, 2020, 07:28:29 AM »
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-24/countries-are-starting-to-hoard-food-threatening-global-trade

Apparently it's not just individuals, but countries that are stockpiling food.

If this goes on, especially if harvests in western nations are disrupted due to barriers to seasonal migrant workers, the food supply situation could yet get a bit ugly.

kassy

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #2002 on: March 30, 2020, 12:36:37 PM »
Some minor good news from Pakistan:

Zero-carbon water pumps turn Pakistan's barren mountains green

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Only two years ago, it would have been practically impossible to grow apples in this part of Pakistan, 2,500 meters (8,200 feet) up in Gilgit-Baltistan region’s Gojal Valley

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But the installation of a hydraulic ram (hydro-ram) pump has changed that. It harnesses the pressure of fast-flowing water, such as a river, to drive a share of that water uphill without needing any other power source.

Because the pumps work without electricity or fuel, they are cheap to run and produce no climate-heating carbon emissions.

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Encouraged by the results, the United Nations Development Programme gave WWF-Pakistan additional funding to install 20 more hydro-ram pumps in 12 villages.

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Each pump is connected to a drip irrigation system that delivers a steady, gentle flow of water to mountain-top crops, using less water than many traditional irrigation methods.

The pumps have helped revive about 60 acres (24 hectares) of previously barren land, benefiting nearly 300 households, Raza said.

Their simple design - consisting mainly of pipes and two valves - means few moving parts to maintain or repair.

Upkeep of the pumps, which cost up to 70,000 Pakistani rupees ($430) to build and install, is easy and affordable for communities, who have welcomed the new systems, Raza added.

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“Higher rainfall in this mountainous region offers a golden opportunity to grow high-value crops such as cherries and apples that can lead to greater profits,” he said.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pakistan-water-climate-change/zero-carbon-water-pumps-turn-pakistans-barren-mountains-green-idUSKBN21G0KT
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