Are you interested in creating a climate-friendly garden? These videos can help get you started. Follow UCS analyst Karen Perry Stillerman on her visit to Eden Place Nature Center in Chicago to see how the same practices used to create this urban oasis can transform the American agricultural landscape.
They provide shade, lower air conditioning use, and store carbon.
Today the Backyard, Tomorrow the World
What we do in our gardens, farmers can do in their fields.
Know the label to look for when shopping for fish.
by Virginia Sole-Smith
This international nonprofit organization uses independent certifying agencies to make sure fisheries are catching their fish in the most environmentally friendly way possible. The label now appears on more than 180 frozen, fresh, and smoked-fish products sold in grocery stores across the country, including Whole Foods and Target,Wal-Mart has committed to buying all its store-brand fish products from MSC-certified fisheries within the next two to four years. For more information, visit eng.msc.org
Please ask your grocer if they buy and sell certified Sustainable fish … Nativegrl77
facts about MSC
Our vision is of the world’s oceans teeming with life, and seafood supplies safeguarded for this and future generations
Our mission is to use our ecolabel and fishery certification program to contribute to the health of the world’s oceans by recognising and rewarding sustainable fishing practises, influencing the choices people make when buying seafood, and working with our partners to transform the seafood market to a sustainable basis.
MSC vision and mission
We have a staff of 100 spread across the HQ in London and regional offices in the Netherlands, USA, Australia, Baltic region, France, Germany, Japan, South Africa, and Spain, where our multilingual staff can be contacted to answer questions.
MSC offices and staff
The MSC assessment program is used to certify wild capture freshwater and marine species. Our program does not assess fish farming (aquaculture), although some forms of enhanced fishery may be eligible for assessment.
Why MSC doesn’t certify aquaculture fisheries
To maintain impartiality, the MSC operates a ‘third-party’ certification program. This means that MSC itself does not assess fisheries or decide if they are sustainable. Instead certificates are issued by certifiers who are independently accredited to be able to perform assessments of fisheries and decide if they meet the MSC’s standards.
Third party certification
Most fisheries say MSC certification helps them retain existing markets and gain access to new ones. For example the Germany North Sea saithe fishery used to rely entirely on fresh fish sales, but is now winning contracts for frozen fillets because its customers are requesting MSC certified products. This presents a powerful incentive for other fisheries to demonstrate their sustainability or to make improvements so that they can be eligible for certification too.
Benefits of MSC certification (PDF, 8.2 mb)
An example from the South Africa hake fishery illustrates how fisheries in the MSC program can influence government policy. The fishery introduced tori lines (streamers flown from boats to keep birds away) in response to one MSC condition. These are now mandatory on all trawling vessels in South Africa.
Net benefits report (PDF, 8.2 mb)
For example the MSC assessment process for the Ekofish Group plaice fishery led to a voluntary agreement with NGOs to close certain sensitive areas for this bottom-trawl fishery, and to take part in scientific research on the impact fishing gear has on habitats and the seabed.
Find out about other environmental benefits resulting from the MSC program
MSC certification is a robust scientific process, which draws on scientific expertise from marine scientists worldwide as well as contributing to improving scientific understanding through the fishery assessment process.
MSC standards and methodologies
Every MSC certified fishery has demonstrated that it maintains sustainable fish stocks, minimises environmental impacts and is effectively managed
These are the three MSC environmental principles that every fishery in the program must prove it meets. Measurable environmental benefits that have occurred in MSC certified fisheries include the recovery of the New Zealand hoki fishery‘s historically low stock levels, due to a raft of management measures including a stock rebuilding plan.
Information from each step of the assessment process is available on the MSC website to make it easier for stakeholders to contribute. We also invite stakeholders to participate in key improvement projects and publish progress online.
The input that stakeholders provide during a fishery’s assessment is key to ensuring a thorough assessment and a credible outcome. For this reason, certifiers are required to carefully consider all comments received, and justify and document their responses. The MSC also has an objections procedure which provides a mechanism for any disagreement with the assessment of the fishery to be reviewed and resolved. The MSC is continually improving its program, and stakeholders are invited to contribute to its development through regular meetings of the Stakeholder Council and public consultations.
Have your say
We work with fisheries in developing countries to ensure there is equal access to the benefits of certification
The MSC program is open to all fisheries regardless of size, scale, location and intensity. To promote equal accessibility to its ecolabelling program, the MSC works with stakeholders and fisheries from all over the world. Through the MSC’s Developing World Program, the MSC seeks to promote increased participation of developing country fisheries in certification.
Developing World Program
The MSC is a registered charity and non-profit (501c3) and to a great extent relies on financial support from donors with an interest in protecting sustainable fishing. The majority of this income is received in the form of grants from private foundations, as well as some more limited support from governments, companies, other NGOs and individual supporters. Additional revenue is also generated from MSC International (the trading arm of the MSC) which administers a fee structure for use of the MSC eco-label, helping the MSC to become more financially independent and reduce its dependence on charitable donations.
Make a donation
The MSC has the only seafood ecolabel in the world that is consistent with the ISEAL Code of Good Practice for Setting Social and Environmental Standards and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation’s guidelines for ecolabelling of fish products.
How we meet best practice
Encouraging responsible fisheries management improves security for the livelihoods of communities who depend on them, especially for smaller scale artisanal fisheries. In the Net Benefits report there are many examples, such as in the American Albacore Fishing Association Pacific tuna fishery which in 2005 had unstable incomes and lack of resources to invest in repairing vessels. After certification, the fishery found new buyers in Switzerland, Germany, France and the United Kingdom – and, confident of a market, was able to set its own price for the first time in its history. Now fishing is a reliable industry for the future of the community.
Net benefits report (PDF, 8.2 mb)
To remain MSC certified, fisheries must continually meet requirements for maintaining fish populations, so your favourite fish can still be enjoyed in years to come.
Where to buy sustainable seafood
You can be sure that all fish with the MSC ecolabel can be traced back to a certified sustainable fishery
MSC-labelled seafood is traceable through the whole supply chain. When a product is sold with the MSC ecolabel, each business in the chain must have a Chain of Custody certificate, proving they have demonstrated to independent auditors that MSC certified fish comes from a certified supplier and is kept separate from non MSC-certified fish.
MSC chain of custody certification
2010 research carried out in the USA, Canada, UK, Germany, France, and Japan shows that across these regions, 23% of the adult population is now aware of the MSC ecolabel – up from 9% in 2008.
Find out more about the research
When promoted as part of a campaign called ‘Les Jours Bleus’ (Blue Days), the MSC ecolabel helped increase sales for MSC Partners. Findus increased their market share for breaded fish in Carrefour stores by 30% in volume. Sales of Connétable products were multiplied by 10 compared to their average annual sales throughout the year.
Les Jours Bleus campaign
By working with education caterers, schools and children, the MSC is bringing sustainable seafood to over 4000 (roughly 20%) of primary schools in the UK. The project teaches children about sustainable seafood issues and helps schools source MSC fish for school meals. In 2010 the project was also launched in 60 schools in Sweden.
Fish & Kids website
Independent comparisons of seafood labelling programs routinely place the MSC at the top of the list and recognise the MSC as having the most robust and scientific standards of all seafood ecolabelling programs.
MSC standards and methodologies
Visit certified sustainable fisheries on the map and find out more about them.
Financial support is critical to our success. Find out how you can help.
By Jessica Valenti, The Guardian
A world in which all women of child-bearing age are considered ‘pre-pregnant’ is the stuff of nightmares. READ MORE»
Cliff Weathers, AlterNet
The Golden State issues statewide water restrictions as it prepares for the worst shortage in its history. READ MORE»
By Ellen Brown, Web of Debt blog
Did the banksters just meet their match? READ MORE»
Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet
Instead of being embarrassed, the state GOP says this is business as usual. READ MORE»
By: Stan Sudol*
Ontario’s first Mining Act was passed in 1869 with a significant revision in 1906. Since that time the Act has continuously evolved alongside technological and environmental changes and political and public demands.
So let’s start with some of the good news. There is a new on-line Mining Act Awareness Program that sooner or later every current and new explorer will have to take. A non-issue!
First Nations communities are now able to withdraw sites of Aboriginal significance so mining claims cannot be staked. This is a terrific idea eliminating potential conflict.
MNDM will also be conducting 44 workshops in strategically located in Aboriginal communities to help educate communities about the mineral sector.
Individuals or companies can now rehabilitate existing mine hazards they did not create and not be liable for pre-existing environmental issues.
Plans are also in the works to provide funding for Aboriginal Mineral Technical Officers who will be located in First Nations communities to deal with plans and permit applications. However, they have not decided on the number, and due to resource constraints, I fear too few will be hired.
Now let’s get to the bad and very, very ugly issues.
You will now be expected to fill out exploration plans and exploration permits that will highlight your activities over the next two and three years respectively. These plans and permits will be vetted by First Nations, surface rights owners and the general public.
In a perfect world, if no problems arise, it will take 30 or 50 days to get approval for these plans and permits. If there are problems, be prepared for significant and costly delays. And what is to prevent environmental groups from using this process to needlessly delay exploration activities that have very low impact on the environment?
In addition, the timeframe of these documents do not reflect the usual operating procedures of explorationists. Who knows where they will be drilling in two or three years? So any changes to these plans must go through the same 30 or 50 day process.
Expect a lot of additional paperwork and potential holdups for activities that have very little impact on the environment even if you have engaged with First Nations communities at an early stage.
Many small junior companies have only three to five employees and subcontract much of the field work to contractors and consultants.
Demanding investors, flow-through share funding time limits, spectacular or terrible drill results all require agility and rapid decision making to exploit opportunities as they occur.
Many small juniors and First Nations communities presently don’t have the capacity or the financial ability to handle the enormous increase in regulations and red tape.
Furthermore, this is an enormously risky time to implement these changes. Global financial instability has caused enormous volatility on stock markets putting downward pressure on stock values. This has been a brutal year to try to raise funds for juniors and many fear these changes will cause a significant migration to other provinces or international jurisdictions.
Now let’s touch upon the real elephant in the room that these changes do not address.
That issue is the additional payments to First Nations communities that are used purely as an “access or permission fee” for explorers to work on their claims. These fees are roughly averaging two or three per cent of exploration budgets. Many in the First Nations communities feel this is an acceptable form of “taxation” due to disruptions on their traditional territories or a way of establishing self-sufficiency.
This is a highly contentious issue throughout the exploration sector ranging from hardliners to the more pragmatic that have factored in these fees as an additional cost of doing business. However, everyone is concerned about the increasing escalation of these financial demands and if they become too high, some juniors may have no choice but to leave the province.
MNDM does not condone these fees yet is doing nothing about them.
So where do we go from here?
A vital first start is to find some consensus among ourselves that these additional payments have now become a cost of doing business. Unfortunately, the barn door is now open and you are not going to get those horses back in.
Industry and government reps should then meet with the First Nations leadership from the various tribal councils, NAN, Union of Ontario Indians and Grand Council of Treaty 3 to hammer out a consistent and transparent fee schedule.
Then ensure that government ministries will treat these “fees” as expenses that can be tax deductible.
A second valuable initiative is for MNDM to fund Aboriginal Mineral Technical Officers in most of the First Nations communities throughout northern Ontario. Some of these individuals should be able to be responsible for two or three reserves that may be very small or not in a currently active exploration area.
Train these individuals on how to efficiently deal with the plans and permits. In addition, they should also be responsible for educating their respective communities about the exploration and mining sectors.
And finally, since this knowledge/capacity does not currently exist in most First Nations communities, we must delay the mandatory requirements start up on April 1, 2013, for an addition six months or a year. During that time period, we could implement these initiatives and work out any potential bottlenecks or problems with the least amount of disruption.
The exploration industry was worth slightly over one billion dollars in 2011 and is the critical starting point for Ontario’s $11 billion mining sector.
It’s worth delaying the “mandatory” requirement of the new Mining Act regulations to get this right, especially during a cyclical downturn in the industry!
No one ever said this business was an easy one. There is enormous risk, but enormous gain as well.
However take heart, even though the entire global mining industry is slowing down, the commodity super cycle is still with us. Over the next few decades, as billions of people in China, India and the rest of the developing world become middle class consumers, the demand for metals will only continue to grow. Northern Ontario – including First Nations communities with economic challenges – can be the beneficiaries of this enormous global transformation, with the high-paying jobs that come from new mines.
But we need to meet, talk and come to a consensus that will benefit both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities.
The wealth is definitely there but we need to allow the prospectors and junior explorers access to the land to find these future mines that will eventually provide long-term, well-pay jobs to many Aboriginal communities.
*Stan Sudol is a Toronto-based communications consultant, speechwriter and columnist who blogs at www.republicofmining.com. These remarks are from a speech given at the Ontario Prospectors Association: 2012 Ontario Exploration & Geoscience Symposium in Sudbury Ontario, Nov. 6, 2012.
Photo by Matthias Wietz
Jeff Bowman was on an icebreaker in 2009 near the North Pole when his research team encountered miles and miles of new ice, covered with these frost flowers, each about one to two inches tall. The ice appears black to the eye, enhancing the visual effect. While it looks like rippled open water, the newly-formed sea ice is about three inches thick.
The team disembarked to collect samples of some of the flowers, which, it turned out, are teaming with bacteria. They also had surprising chemical properties, including very high levels of mercury, and formaldehyde, Bowman said.
His research team is still trying to understand just what these frost flowers are up to, chemically and biologically. But one thing that seems certain is whatever these flowers are, there are going to be many more of them as the area of perennial sea ice in the arctic shrinks. That means new sea ice forming on open water, blooming with frost flowers.
For more on Bowman’s research, here is a link to his blog.