YOUR WEEKLY BRIEFING FROM PARLEY
Temporary fishing bans could be the best way to protect the world’s fish stocks while still providing the world with enough to eat, a new study claims. The results suggest that fishing activity focused into periodic open seasons separated by several years of closures could be a more workable conservation solution than permanent bans.
The study, from an international team of scientists, argues these so-called “pulse harvests” of fish can address concerns about stock sustainability, while also ensuring enough fish are caught to make the fishery productive for local populations over time. But other fishery experts say only permanent bans, such as those in place in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), can protect wildlife and ecosystems properly. These are frequently opposed by the industry.
China has vowed to improve the recycling rates of plastic mulch used in farming amid mounting concerns about soil contamination as unrecovered bits of the thin film get left behind, leaving traces in crops. Plastic mulch – the thin sheeting placed over crops – is used throughout the world, and heavily in China’s arid and dusty north to improve growing conditions and boost yields by retaining moisture for crops and suppressing weeds. The country currently deploys about 200,000 square km of plastic mulch, an area the size of Belarus.
In all their years working in Northern California, marine researchers have never seen anything like it: scores of dead mussels on the rocks, their shells gaping and scorched, their meats thoroughly cooked. A record-breaking June heatwave apparently caused the largest die-off of mussels in at least 15 years – and biologists received reports from other researchers of similar mass mussel deaths at various beaches across roughly 225km of coastline. The rock-bound mollusks could have been experiencing temperatures above 100F at low tide, literally roasting in their shells.
As Parley and other forward-thinking organizations firmly believe, the only way to solve the plastic waste problem is to make new materials that can completely biodegrade in nature in the same way as other natural materials. The problem is leading scientists to focus on making materials from another polymer, but one that is the building block of life – amino acids. Any amino acid-based material should be fully compostable because that’s the nature of the material, and researchers believe whatever material we can produce from amino acids will completely break down in less than ten years.
A molecule that fights malaria has been discovered in the depths of an Arctic bay, underlining the importance of protecting remote ocean ecosystems. Canadian researchers found that molecules from a microscopic fungus had similarities to malaria-fighting compounds. “Since this molecule is coming from the North, from the bottom of the sea, there’s no way a parasite responsible for malaria, which lives thousands of kilometers away, in the south, would be resistant to it,” explains Normand Voyer, head of the study. “Nature is an amazing source of novel molecules.”