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Dave Wise

Go Travel, Go Green! 🌱


Diving the Big Scare

Activism Posted on Thu, October 25, 2018 11:42:45

This Article is from Trek and Run magazine, Winter 2018


‘It’s called The Big Scare,’ Juan, our divemaster, said, ‘because although the Pacific looks clear on the surface there’s actually 3 stages of visibility here; clear, then as you go down it turns a murky green – that’s where the Bull sharks hang out – and then on the bottom it’s clear again. It’s the descent and the suddenness of the sharks coming out of the murky water that gets most people, they just seem to appear from nowhere. If it happens, and it probably will as we almost always see them here, remember to stay calm, they’re harmless.’

For a few minutes the thought of the forthcoming scuba dive frightened me. I remembered the talk of friends back home, warning that Bull sharks were the most dangerous of animals due to their high testosterone levels. Their fear infected me, overriding the science based knowledge I’d acquired whilst preparing for this Costan Rican adventure. I knew that sharks weren’t the monsters the media liked to make out and that we humans had already hunted them to the edge of extinction, yet the claustrophobia that came with thoughts of scuba diving in low visibility alongside an animal that society had registered in my psyche as a menace was primal and temporarily overwhelming.

The Sharkwater ship rolled in the swell. I watched the white surf crashing against the rocky outcrops below which we’d soon dive, backlit with the early sun. Shaking my head I began to banish the fear. What did testosterone have to do with matters anyway! If that had a bearing on things, wouldn’t all those corn fed guys running around the world with flags, fishing boats, hungry bank accounts and guns be dangerous too!!!

Oh, wait…

We’d been told not to talk of this adventure on social media before we travelled, the shark finning business is worth a lot of money, a group of tourists coming to scuba dive whilst engaging in shark conservation, looking to disrupt a source of great wealth for many, might not be so welcome. They could track us from our social media posts, we’d been told, kidnapping, or worse, could result. Tourists travelling to Costa Rica to kill sharks and other fish are welcomed with open arms by the mainstream tourism community, but those looking to ensure a future for sea life and locals alike are in a different boat; they have to watch themselves very carefully indeed. That’s what we’d been told, anyway, and without any other knowledge to the contrary it seemed a good idea to take notice of it.

There were 2 groups of divers, the more experienced band of 8 filled another RIB whilst in our inflatable there were just 4. Before we arrived at the dive site Juan signalled to us to make ready, fins and mask on, air flowing, he wanted us to get into the water and down with no delay.
‘There’s a swell today, no good staying on the surface, let’s just get in and get down,’ he’d said whilst briefing us aboard the Sharkwater ship. ‘And, these sharks, they’re shy, if we get down before the other group, maybe we’ll have a good experience, before the sheer number of our other diving group scares them off.’

Our skipper slowed the outboard engine, Juan gave the signal and all 4 of us flipped backwards out of the RIB and into the waves. Within seconds we made eye contact, hand signalled we were ok, expelled the air from our buoyancy jackets and began to descend into The Big Scare.

I breathed slowly, conscious that I’d use my air up in no time at all if I let fear get the better of me. At 5 metres the visibility was fine, nothing great, about 15 to 20 metres I guess, at 10 metres down there was no change, at 15 it was still good. When was the green murk going to hit us? My ears hurt, I’d been having trouble with them equalizing pressure the past few dives, the pain pierced both sides of my upper neck, for a minute I kept my depth stable, breathing steady as the other 3 divers moved down and away. I pinched my nose, tried to force air into the sinus channels although not so hard as to rupture anything, considered tapping my tank loud and signalling to the others that I was going back to the surface. But the sharks, how I wanted to see them, this was the one place in Costa Rica where you could see Bulls close to land, I tried forcing air gently again and my ears eased open, thank goodness. I flipped myself forward and kicked head first down after the group.

Then we were on the bottom. Huh, that wasn’t so bad, I thought, I’d been expecting a green soup of an ocean but it wasn’t anything like that, in fact I’d hardly noticed the change in visibility at all. Juan put his hand to his forehand, fingers pointing straight up, the sign for shark, we looked past him and saw the first of the days’ Bull sharks, gliding away. I felt no fear, this was the only known meeting place for Bull sharks on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica and, there was just a single shark. Of course, it could probably make short work of us or any other small creature if it wished, but it wasn’t interested in that, it was avoiding us, and maybe if there were 20 of them I’d have felt different but here we were, in it’s home, and there was just a single shark, moving away.

I thought of how the human hype machine has worked on our minds over the years, as a result there’s so little balance and recognition of nuance these days. Sharks are dangerous, this country or that is dangerous, everybody has an equal say because everybody can have an equal say, we are right and they are wrong, but there’s no right or wrong and that’s not because there’s no right or wrong but because I’m too lazy to work the issue out, so a blanket statement will do in a society that only wishes to keep itself alive and functioning in a way that is now seriously out of date and, without doubt, dangerous.

I’d run the Marathon des Sables, the so called ‘Toughest Footrace on Earth’, in 2017 and the hype had got to me. I and most others taking part completed that 7 day race with hearts filled with great suffering and afterwards looked to social media for affirmation of our bravery. But then I’d felt foolish, Marcus Aurelius was laughing at me, and in 2018 I ran the race again but this time with a smile. Few things are as potentially harmful as settled, frightened humans like to make out, except for settled, frightened humans, I’d learnt that. Now, once again, I was seeing that truth played out before me.

We hovered, waited. I looked out into the empty blue. There were a couple of small yellow fish, the first about 6 metres away, the second twice that. Then there was a shark next to the fish nearest me. How the hell did that get there! I guess that’s where The Big Scare got its title, from moments like that, when you’re looking at a patch of seemingly empty ocean and suddenly this well camouflaged, huge hunting machine appears moving so slickly you’re immediately made aware of your own clumsiness. The shark was gracefully coming straight at me. I glanced over my shoulder but the group were looking the other way. All this that I’m telling you, it happened in a couple of seconds that slowed to what felt like an hour. I wondered if I should get out the way, and also, why didn’t I feel frightened? I was excited, for sure, but not at all frightened. Then when it was just 3 metres away I understood.
I remembered, age 27, walking across the Sinai Desert, finding water every day, being confused at my luck, putting the discoveries down to divine intervention, not understanding that humans can smell water just as well as horses and other animals can if they only learn to get themselves out of their own way, not understanding that there’s a more natural method of interpreting life for those who are ready to discard the layers of negativity, arrogance, hubris and fear that our ancestors have burdened and blinded us with.

I remembered running through a forest. The weather is fine, I’m unencumbered by anything but a pair of shoes, socks and shorts. I’ve no injuries, no illness, everything is as perfect as it can be and I’m jumping over every fallen branch, every rock, making great choices, moving through the forest like it’s my natural home. My pace is not slow or fast, I’ve a couple more gears in me if I want to speed up, but this is me in cruise control, afraid of nothing, powerful and aware. If anybody could see me, they’d think I was exactly like this shark.

Because that’s how it moved, gliding through the ocean like I move through the forest when I’m chilled out. I’ve never seen a shark on the attack before but I was certain this wasn’t it. It was way too slow, way too un-coiled, the vibration coming at me through the water wasn’t that of threat or force but indifference and so I hovered, letting it come to me, soaking this experience up because I knew it was finite, that I’d be remembering this for many years, sadly honoured that I’d felt the presence of at least one of these beautiful animals before they became extinct.

There were to be more shark sightings later in the dive, and a glorious ascent through the middle of a few hundred Eagle Rays packed so densely that I thought they were a cloud blocking the sun. We emerged from the ocean that morning feeling alive, powerful, real, knowing that we had to help protect sharks with all we had.

There will always be doubters when change is required, even when the evidence is overwhelmingly against them. We know now, for instance, that between 66% and 95% of all cancers are lifestyle induced. Meaning, that at least 2/3rds of all cancers are self inflicted, mostly by eating meat, dairy and other crap, and not exercising enough. This fact is backed up by solid science. Yet still many of my pals, who are good people, ignore science on this issue whilst simultaneously demanding it does more to cure cancer, somehow, instead of just changing their own lifestyle, and encouraging others to do so, too.

Running a marathon? Easy! Eating right, for you, the environment and your countries medical system?
‘Well, there’s nothing quite like a juicy steak, and the smell of BBQ, and I like cheese, who doesn’t, how can I give up that! I’m a man child not an adult for goodness sake! And bacon, mmm, bacon, right, eh? And who are you to tell me about cancer, my health is my business, the world is as big as it always was and what I do doesn’t matter, I’m not part of any community, I’m a nationalist not a globalist, and what if you get cancer yourself, then you won’t be talking so smart about it all, then you’ll wish you carried on eating as you want, destroying the climate and being cruel, like me. Life’s too short, you know…’

Especially so if you’re a shark. Or a turtle. Or a dolphin. Because, you don’t think the fishermen really make an exception for the cute stuff when they haul in their nets and long lines, do you?

Learn more about how to save sharks here https://www.sharkwater.com/



Seafood Watch Update

Activism Posted on Wed, October 17, 2018 13:20:13

Recently I was working on an ocean conservation project in Costa Rica, aboard the M/V Sharkwater, along with a handful of others from North America. The project had been inspired by the late Toronto filmmaker Rob Stewart, you may have heard of his film ‘Sharkwater’? It’s all about conservation and the importance of keeping our oceans healthy and well stocked.
Whilst on the project I asked the marine biologists what people in North America could do to help sea life and they all said that we could become better consumers, and part of that is to use the Seafood Watch website to find out what local restaurants serve sustainably caught seafood and then use those restaurants instead of others who serve fish at risk of extinction.

As a vegan the sustainable fish thing didn’t apply to me but I figured it was worth having a look at the website, to see what great stuff was going on within Toronto, my home and recognized as one of the most progressive cities in North America.

I was shocked to see that the SeaFood Watch website listed just 1 restaurant in Toronto, and that was a chain restaurant that had 1 or 2 sustainable meals on a menu awash with unsustainable options. Clearly not a good situation. I checked out the entries for other cities and towns, the areas that others on my conservation project lived in. Some of the places on the west coast were better but largely the website was just another thing that looked like a great idea but in reality wasn’t being used.

So I got in touch with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, who organise the website, and asked what we could do about this (below is their reply). I also reached out to the other scuba divers and budding activists who’d been in Costa Rica with me and asked who’d like to join me in contacting the restaurants in their own areas. I was trying to be positive, to actually lesson the gap between what the website could be and what it actually was.

I was saddened that only 1 of those who’d been in Costa Rica said they’d help. We’d all seen the extent of the devastation that modern fishing methods inflict, surely if anybody was going to be fired up about conservation it was this gang of people. But I shouldn’t have been surprised, one of the main issues the planet faces is that a great many of the people who care just don’t care enough. They start out with great intentions but in the end they’re satisfied with a cute new Facebook profile photo and a failure to understand that they matter, that what they do matters, that they can make a difference if only they pursued inclusion with other humans instead of striving for a half hearted individuality. And then somebody like me stirs them and they do the sad western passive aggressive thing and use me as an excuse for their laziness. Like, that pushy vegan, if only he was more polite about all this perhaps I would act but he turns me right off, it’s all his fault that I’m going to sit on my ass and do nothing but make solid sounding excuses for my inaction!

Bottom line, if you care, you’ll go vegan. If you pretend to care, you’ll make excuses. And if you don’t care… I don’t know, I can’t imagine it.

I got onto Trip Advisor and searched for the top 50 fish restaurants in Toronto, then I wrote to them all. I kept it brief but asked them to consider becoming a member of the Seafood Watch website. It would only cost a couple of hundred dollars, which isn’t much for what amounts to an official stamp of approval, and I made it easy for them to go forward by providing all the links and details.

Not a single restaurant got back to me. Maybe they just went forward and signed up to be a Seafood Watch partner. But the website says otherwise, at the moment.

The future is grim for our sealife, and for us. We’ve disrupted the food chain and now we begin to suffer. We are already seeing this in the red tides of Florida and other ocean dead zones around the world. Some of us live in areas where the oceans are managed well, and they see no reason to change. But our world is small, what we do in one area matters to the other areas, and our people are in need of solid guidance and examples.

Here’s the reply from Monterey Bay Aquarium.
“Any restaurant can become a Seafood Watch partner as long as they are willing to phase out any red rated seafood products. All of our recommendations are publicly available online or on our free app. To use our recommendations, you’ll need to know three things:

1. What species is it?

2. What country if it from?

3. How was it caught or farmed?

With those three key data elements, you can use Seafood Watch recommendations to figure out the respective rating.

Please feel free to direct any restaurants interested in partnership to www.seafoodwatch.org. They can click on the “Businesses & Organizations†tab to fill out a short inquiry form and someone from our business team will get in touch to explain the partnership, answer questions and identify next steps.

If you are interested in learning more about partnerships with Seafood Watch, we have this six minute online module: http://www.seafoodwatch.org/businesses-and-organizations/become-a-partner

Finally, Vancouver Aquarium has a similar seafood product called Ocean Wise, which relies on our recommendations. They also have a restaurant program and would likely have more Canadian restaurant partners, but keep in mind that I believe their restaurant partners are only required to highlight which seafood items on their menu are sustainable.â€

‘I tried to see this sustainable seafood issue from the side of the fish eaters. This website could work but it doesn’t because people – the restaurants, the activists – aren’t really that interested. Is it worth anything? Probably not, but hindsight might say it’s a start. Although the story is different now, the scientists tell us that, the facts are beyond doubt and life as we know it is nearly beyond saving, and there’s hardly time for a start, middle and end, let alone a rescue mission.

Still, if you’re in the mood to do something, and if you know any restaurants that want to do the right thing, then ask them to dig deep (change isn’t easy) and go vegan. If it turns out that they want to pretend to care but aren’t that bothered then they won’t take any notice at all. But if they want to pretend to care more than most, then also let them know that they can sign up to the Seafood Watch website. It’s better than nothing I guess.



World Without Sin

Activism Posted on Thu, September 20, 2018 12:20:02

Two days before I travelled to Costa Rica I found an old Go Pro video camera. I didn’t know if it still worked (it wasn’t mine and I had never used it before so I didn’t know if it’d been discarded because it was no longer any good) but because I had no other option to take with me whilst scuba diving I decided to give it a shot.

To help me film underwater, which I’d never done before, I scoured YouTube for ideas. I focused on the work of the best, and that for me had to start with Jacques Cousteau. I looked for his most famous work and clicked on a link for the film ‘World Without Sun’, except I read it as ‘World Without Sin’. I took the inspiration of what he’d done back in the 1960’s and carried it with me to 2018 Costa Rica.

Throughout my subsequent scuba diving I used the Go Pro to film what I saw and felt whilst under the Pacific waves. I didn’t really know how to use this make of camera or even if what I was doing would result in anything I could use but it pleased me to try and when I got back to Canada and viewed the footage for the first time (the camera has no viewfinder or way of seeing what you are filming, or have filmed) I thought that the results were ok. But, they were just ok. I had moved the camera around too much, the footage was jolty and without sufficient feeling, in my opinion.

I wasn’t sure about releasing the footage, even just amongst friends. Now that I understood the dire straits that our oceans are in I considered myself a representative of marine life, I had a duty to present them in the best, most honest way possible. I had to show the true beauty and essence of their existence in the hope that when other humans saw it they might reconsider the appalling way most of us treat our marine family. Fish, Turtles, Sharks, Dolphins, they’re more than just fish tacos, cerviche, fish and chips, or however you eat them. They’re pulses of life as we are, they deserve the same considerations.

I saw an opportunity. I knew a friend at work, Anwan, who was passionate about music and enjoyed creating in his home studio. I thought that if I provided Anwan with the raw footage and a brief background of what I was trying to do, then perhaps he could use his musical skill to elevate the film to a place where it could help marine life in the way that I, and the marine biologists and activists I’d met in Costa Rica, would hope for.

I soon knew that he was the right man for the job because his first question about what we were trying to do was ‘What’s the feeling?’. So many artists favour style over substance or feeling, and it results in a litany of bloodless creation that just fills up our airways whilst giving us little to go forward with. This wasn’t the case with Anwan. All I said to him after that was this…

‘I saw a film called World Without Sun and I thought it was called World Without Sin, but by the time I realised my mistake I understood that my error actually summed up what I felt about the natural world, where even the most dangerous predators – the sharks – are without sin. So our film is to be called World Without Sin, and I’d like the music to represent what you see, rather than lead people to a stereotypical conclusion. So perhaps don’t put menacing music to the shark bits, like the Discovery Channel so often does, and Jaws did? Other than that, I just want people to see how beautiful nature is, and that it’s worth our protection…’

And with that, Anwan did his thing and this is the result, which I love, and I hope you do too. To add to my point of view, I’ll close with Anwan’s words on how he went about creating the soundtrack.

‘I’ve wanted to do more scoring work along with my music production and Dave, a friend and colleague of mine, had recently been to Costa Rica and taken some great underwater footage. I saw the material and thought, I would love to add a dimension of sound to that. The process was pretty simple. After viewing the material a few times I could hear the sound ideas in my head. I gave each animal a different sound/music and mixed it together with a few sound effects. Peter and the Wolf, one of my favorite child stories, was the main inspiration behind the idea.’

About Anwan

When discussing talented producers in the Canadian music industry, the name Anwan Ekpo is always mentioned by those who have heard his work. Anwan has an unquestionable talent when it comes to making music people can feel. Stay inTune – @itsanwan



Conservation Diving in the Murky Pacific

Activism Posted on Thu, August 30, 2018 10:32:37

Whilst in Costa Rica we accompanied the marine biologists on several excursions. Often it felt like we were hindering their scientific process rather than helping as although we had bucket loads of enthusiasm we had little training in any specific conservation technique. However, sometimes we seemed useful and this film portrays one such occasion, when we dove in murky, turbulent waters to retrieve a receiver that had been collecting data for the past 3 months. It was truly fulfilling, a real adventure, all activism has a feel good factor attached to it somewhere but this day will stand out in my memory as an example of what satisfies me the most; doing positive work in slightly dangerous, physically and mentally testing conditions and coming out of it with a successful result. Good times indeed.

The plan is to use the data to determine what areas of the ocean sharks and turtles inhabit most and for what reasons, and then to put forward a case for a new marine conservation area based on these findings. If the animals can be left alone long enough for them to repopulate their species – at the moment so many fish and turtles are being caught before they’ve even had time to reproduce so extinction is close on the horizon for species such as shark, turtle and tuna – they may still have a chance of survival, as will our oceans and therefore us. In case you didn’t know, the oceans produce 50% of the oxygen that we breathe so if we allow them to fall into bad health, we are all likely to suffer. If you enjoy my films and think they are important, please share around, thanks.



Advice for Activists

Activism Posted on Mon, August 20, 2018 12:07:36

Being an activist can be frustrating, deeply saddening and seemingly hopeless at times. Burn out among those who try to change our world for the better is common and it’s easy to see why; stay around as an activist for long and it can seem that the people who care just don’t care enough and the world as we know it is going to fall all around us pretty soon. Which may all be true, yet the fact that we’re probably all doomed isn’t any reason at all to stop trying to stand up for the oppressed, and face down greed, a lack of critical thinking and evil wherever you may find it.

But in order to do this you have to stay in the game, and this can be a challenge. In this short film activist Randall Arauz explains how he has kept going as an effective force for good over a career spanning several decades.



Pineapples

Activism Posted on Wed, August 08, 2018 15:20:34

My trip to Costa Rica didn’t just alert me to the sad condition of our sea life. The issue of large scale fruit production – specifically pineapples – and the havoc it brings to the people and environment, also came to my attention. I’m a runner so I eat a lot of pineapple to keep inflammation at bay. I’m always looking for a deal on the fruit when I’m in the supermarket, $2 is a usual price if they’re on sale, which they seem to be frequently during the summer.

I kind of knew that $2 per pineapple wasn’t enough, and that if I was paying this price then somebody, somewhere down the line, was being treated poorly. Being made to work in bad conditions, not getting paid enough, that sort of thing. But I turned my face from that feeling, I didn’t investigate the facts. I cared about the plantation workers and the environment, but not enough.

Until I began hearing things on the trip, just in passing, about the troubles workers face there on the plantations, the poisons being introduced into the environment just so we can grow enough fruit to feed the demand of people like me. Maybe I was ready for change, perhaps that was one of the motivators that made me go on this trip. Whatever the reason, I came back to Canada eager to try to do the right thing. After some searching I found this article online. It’s about pineapple farming in Costa Rica, it’s extensive and cites all its sources and as such seems credible to me. Check for yourself here https://blogs.nicholas.duke.edu/exploring-green/the-sour-side-of-pineapple-production/#_edn33

I don’t want to cherry pick info from it too much, it’s worth a read in its entirety, but for those of you who don’t have time, here are some grim ‘highlights’ that I think everybody should know about.

“Large-scale pineapple production in particular has come under recent scrutiny with respect to many issues. Deforestation and wetland destruction for the development of plantations, intensive agrochemical application, workers’ rights abuses, lack of erosion control, and the impact of large transportation vehicles (on both the roads and communities through which they pass) continue to both harm the environment and jeopardize the health of local people. Irresponsible practices have been implicated in poisoning soil and water supplies, damaging air quality, reducing biodiversity, and endangering the area’s long-term future food security.

Since 2000, pineapple production has increased by nearly 300% in Costa Rica. Between the years of 2001 and 2007 alone, the total value of pineapple exports exploded in value from $142 million USD to nearly $485 million USD. Pineapple production now brings in more than $800 million USD annually to Costa Rica, and has overtaken both coffee and bananas in becoming the nation’s largest agricultural export. Unfortunately, the pineapple industry’s rapid growth has far outpaced labor and environmental regulation, with largely detrimental effects on the environment and Costa Rican inhabitants.

Pineapples require a significant amount of time in order to produce fruit. Even utilizing high quantities of synthetic fertilizer, producers generally collect only two fruit from an individual pineapple plant every 18-24 months. Faster growing hybrid varieties are cultivated with the use of harmful agrochemicals, including bromacil, diuron, and glyphosate, which are toxic to humans.

Unfortunately, plantation workers and their families continue to suffer most acutely from the health consequences of persistent chemical exposure related to pineapple production. The use of organophosphates and organochlorines on the pineapple crops, chemicals labeled as hormone disruptors, carcinogens, reproductive toxins (substances known to cause birth defects), and other persistent pollutants that can remain in the environment for years are broadly applied.

Workers for the PINDECO Company in the southern Pacific area of Costa Rica complained of increased incidences of allergies, migraines, nausea, feelings of weakness and lethargy, chronic gastritis, and influenza as a result of weakened immune systems. There are also reports among plantation workers and their families of skin and eye damage and irritation, respiratory problems, nervous system disorders, birth defects, and psychological illnesses, including anxiety and depression.

Other workers have complained of dizziness, vomiting, fainting, the appearance of white splotches on the skin, coughs, thyroid irregularities, and the disintegration of their fingernails as the result of handling of poisonous chemicals.

Despite the severe health risks associated with the work, pineapple laborers are paid little for their efforts. In 2005, a report found that pineapple harvesters generally earned between $1-2 an hour, working 10-12 hours a day, 6-7 days a week.

In addition, pineapple work is often seasonal, with workers being hired for harvests and then fired immediately following them until they are next needed, at which point they are re-hired later (generally later in the year in time for the next wave of harvesting). This “hire-and-fire†system keeps workers in constant fear of not being re-employed, discouraging them from joining unions or speaking out against low pay and poor working conditions. Additionally, nearly 70% of workers in the industry are Nicaraguan, and many are illegal immigrants. Without official papers or visas, Nicaraguan migrants feel unable to protest unfair and inhumane treatment for fear of deportation, undermining their power to assert access to basic human rights.

Companies make it difficult for workers to voice their complaints or campaign for improved labor conditions in other ways as well. Hiring people as contract workers (of which 77% of those workers producing pineapple supplied to Dole are) prevents the vast majority of the workforce from having the legal right to organize into unions.

A member of the plantation workers’ union SITRAP had recently been persuading fellow workers to petition the company for independent union representation on its “permanent committee†that handles relations between employees and management. But everyone who had signed the petition had just been sacked. In 2007, there was a mass sacking, or “liquidacionesâ€, and rehiring at wage rates reportedly 40% lower than previously. Union members were rehired only if they agreed to give up their affiliation.â€

The first step for me, having read this, would be to see if there are any pineapples being sold in Canada that are not from either Del Monte or Dole. Some may say, well, maybe these companies are bad but if you buy the fruit they produce which is good, it’ll encourage them to do produce more good fruit.

But my view is that these companies know exactly what they are doing, they just make a choice to value profit over their fellow humans and the environment we all live in. They’ll go where the money is, and whenever a company does that there is no stability. To do any business with them is like Chamberlain doing a deal with Hitler, waving a paper of agreement whilst knowing really that it’s worth very little, if anything at all.

To find out more about buying fairtrade, organic pineapples from decent people I started my search at the Canadian Fairtrade website

http://cftn.ca/about-us

They led me to a few companies, the first being Chas Organics.

https://chasorganics.com/

But 6 cans of pineapple chunks for $34? I’m not saying the price is not justified, but does this mean that pineapple now becomes something I eat on special occasions only, like Christmas, or Birthdays? Perhaps so.

For more info I clicked on a link that was supposed to take me through to a Costa Rican organisation. Instead it was an Argentinian website. Pretty good but no info there about pineapples. http://interrupcion.org/interrupcion/?page=en_novedades

Then I came to Equifruit

http://www.equifruit.com/en/

These are another company listed as maybe being of help. But they only do bananas right now.

https://bomarts.com/

Bomarts are a fairtrade pineapple producer, but their site looks like it’s just for wholesale. Perhaps a business opening for me, to import sustainable pineapples.

So the next step it seems is to physically walk around all the health food stores, the grocers and the organic sections of all the supermarkets in Toronto and check out what’s on sale. I’ll report back. And of course if you, reader, have any insight that might be of help, please do let me know.

I hope this hasn’t put you off trying to source your own favourite foods properly. It’s a hassle compared to the way we are used to doing things, but then again, the way we did things isn’t good enough any more. Maybe it never was.



Seafood Watch

Activism Posted on Mon, July 30, 2018 12:15:21

Whilst in Costa Rica I heard a lot from the marine biologists about a website called Seafood Watch (http://www.seafoodwatch.org/). It was recommended as a place where fish eaters could go to search for a restaurant in their home city which serves up fish that has been caught using sustainable fishing methods. I don’t eat fish but I thought it would be a good link to send to my family and friends, so once I got home I looked at the site and was pretty disappointed.

Ok, I hadn’t expected much, it’s run by an aquarium and I have very mixed feelings about these places. I hate seeing animals kept in captivity, but at the same time, the thing that convinced my partner to stop eating fish was going to an aquarium, seeing how wonderful the animals are, and then asking herself, ‘But if I love them, why am I eating them?’

But that could be my bias as a vegan, perhaps many aquariums are great centres of conservation, I don’t know enough to lambast them all and I accept that. So back to the Seafood Watch website. I searched for restaurants in my home city of Toronto and found 4 entries. One for the zoo, another for a market and 2 for a chain restaurant called Red Lobster. Which was kind of like recommending somebody to go to Denny’s or some family junk food joint. So in effect, although the website looked good and had the potential to be very useful, it was a relatively empty shell. I searched for other cities, the results outside of the US west coast, where the aquarium is based, were similar.

In the old days I’d have just written the website off as yet another failed omni venture. But where would that have gotten me, and the fish? Nowhere useful. So I saw this as an opportunity, wrote to the aquarium/website, and asked for their criteria so that I could reach out to restaurants in Toronto and at least make their website useful.

I got this reply;

“Any restaurant can become a Seafood Watch partner as long as they are willing to phase out any red rated seafood products. All of our recommendations are publicly available online or on our free app. To use our recommendations, you’ll need to know three things:

1. What species is it?

2. What country if it from?

3. How was it caught or farmed?

With those three key data elements, you can use Seafood Watch recommendations to figure out the respective rating.

Please feel free to direct any restaurants interested in partnership to www.seafoodwatch.org. They can click on the “Businesses & Organizations†tab to fill out a short inquiry form and someone from our business team will get in touch to explain the partnership, answer questions and identify next steps.

If you are interested in learning more about partnerships with Seafood Watch, we have this six minute online module: http://www.seafoodwatch.org/businesses-and-organizations/become-a-partner

Finally, Vancouver Aquarium has a similar seafood product called Ocean Wise, which relies on our recommendations. They also have a restaurant program and would likely have more Canadian restaurant partners, but keep in mind that I believe their restaurant partners are only required to highlight which seafood items on their menu are sustainable.”

I have no idea if there is a cost to become a Seafood Watch partner, perhaps it’s like the Organic movement. Many farmers now practice to Organic standards but just can’t afford membership of the movement so they can’t say their produce is organic, even though it is. And for sure, by the look of the website…
…yes, that’s right, a dude kissing a dead fish, well, you can’t expect that much, (although their promo film is really nice and says some encouraging things). But at least it’s a start, and it’s something positive, and perhaps more people will become aware of the importance of eating sustainably as a result.

I hope you will check out the Seafood Watch website and if you find the entries to your own town or city lacking, that you do something about it. I intend to send out news of this to all restaurants I can find in Toronto who it might apply to, and then encourage them to do the rest and become a partner.

One of the main issues the world has is that most humans think they don’t matter, that they can’t make a difference. That’s wrong. You and I can make a difference, and we should before it’s too late.

And if by chance you eat fish, make an effort to find out where you can buy sustainably caught seafood that’s been locally fished, if possible. It’ll no doubt cost you a bit more than the fish that’s not caught that way. I feel your pain. I have the same issue when I reach for the pineapples and the ones grown unsustainably are $2 and the organic ones are $3.50. I’m earning not much more than minimum wage, I can’t afford it, my wallet screams! But I have to. You have to. We have to be better. We, the ones who care, have got to care more, to do more.



What YOU can do for our oceans

Activism Posted on Fri, July 27, 2018 12:37:47

Here’s a couple of short interviews with marine biologists Randall Arauz and Daniel Arauz Naranjo giving you some ideas on how you can help our oceans from wherever you are.



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