Category: Facts & findings

The Beginning of the end??

The beginning of the end?

 

Some great news – Møre and Romsdal county have refused permission/stopped seaweed dredging in some sensitive areas on our coast.  Weather this is due to the letters and protests they received last year from individuals and organizations is not known.

http://www.nrk.no/mr/stenger-for-taretraling-1.12026051

 

 

headlines

but it is causing some discomfort in the industry.

 

Ole Damm Kvilhaug

Terje Halsteinsen – a senior figure in the fiskeriedirektoratet (here he is giving a speech at the meeting in Trondheim – the article is worth reading)     http://stopptt.com/final-day-of-the-trondheim-seaweed-harvesting-meeting/

says they have been doing this for years so they have no reason to suspect it is unsustainable.

 

Terje Halsteinsen adj

 

It is most interesting to read that they harvest 60, 000 tons in this area alone – but what the article does not mention is that to do this, officially they destroy 5 times that amount – that is 300,000 tons – we believe it is far more, but those are the official figures.  The figures for each harvesting area are between 15% and 80% removed – it does not take much to figure out that there are some interesting discrepancies here.

 

What we find hard to understand is that they are supposed to harvest so little – .03% but to do that they need the entire coast.

Areas of seaweed harvest  Map from Net algae – the eus report on the seaweed harvesting industry – they also sponsor some of it.

 

It is clear that our nature is being seriously affected by this industry with Bird colonies emptying where trawling takes place.  

 

Papers from serious institutions clearly say that the forests need between 6 to 9 years to reach former biodiversity, not the 5 or even 4 claimed – it is clear that the industry needs to have the areas harvested so frequently because they are conditioning the forests to have minimal epiphytes and fish life, but why the various state run bodies are supporting this is a mystery – they must know full well that sooner or later the degradation of our marine environment will become apparent and they will at best look incompetent – it is not difficult to find information about the deleterious effects of over harvesting by hand let alone by dredging.   Not to mention the re distribution of pcbs and other dangerous chemicals by disturbing bottom sediments and affecting their reabsorption, just as all bottom trawling does.

 

Bottom trawling pcbs etc  Click to read.

 

 

We hope and trust that other kommune up and down the coast begin to read the necessary articles themselves so they can come to a opinion based on scientific fact not so called scientific opinion from the havsforskningsinstitut and other state run organizations.

 

(thanks Jens)

 

 

 

Acidic seas from CO2

 

In the case of the effects of commercial seaweed harvesting it seems most experts are very careful to make statements that do the least harm. They dont want to cause ripples –

http://www.nrk.no/nordland/bekymret-for-surere-hav-1.11980978

Belona co2 in the seaclick on image to enlarge

so this article on the effects green house gasses are having on our seas is most alarming in that there is no mention of seaweed that i can see and yet Norway is busy destroying its seaweed beds as fast as it possibly can.

Destroying – that is the correct word. Where is the precedent for this.

Brazil – Chile – Peru – what happened there???

Why has chile, one of the worlds poorest countries banned seaweed harvesting in 2008?

Interestingly enough Japan as long ago as the early 1900s started cultivating seaweed because it found harvesting continuously, destroyed the seaweed beds.

Article on japanese seaweed harvesting.click to read

We asked Bellona (one of Norways major environmental groups) what they felt about seaweed trawling, but they were unable to comment because they were busy on a project working with fmc biolopymers – the company that taretråwls the coast.

This is currently the areas regulated by the fiskeriedirektoratet but Harvesting is ocurring in a much larger area with so called “test “Trawling.  In fact currently the entire coast where seaweed grows in sufficient amounts to support the industry.

Map from the fiskeriedirektoratets website of trawling areas .

Areas of trawling

 

Even though FMC biopolymers say they only take 0.03% of the available amount it seems strange that they require such a large area to do so – it also seems strange that as officially each area looses between 15 and 80% of its seaweed from harvesting this figure is still adhered to.

 

 

 

 

 Are we really  doomed to repeat history because our researchers are not looking i the right places (to please our polititians?)  If i can find the information – so can they)

As a result the organizations responsible for regulating the harvest do not have enough information to call a halt either.

(how do i know this??? Ive asked them.)

when the esteemed scientists telling us our seas are becoming too acid through carbon dioxide absorption finally add seaweed harvesting to the list of causes it may be far too late.

 

 

More on Trawling.

Here is an article in Norwegian on Trawling – (from Jens)

havsforsknings institut tråling  click on image for full size

http://www.imr.no/temasider/redskap_og_teknologi/tral/bunntral/bunntraling/miljoeffektar_av_botntraling/nb-no   article in full.

What i find most interesting about this is the difference in the information in this article and this one – this is very short and just a little part of a much larger piece

 

More sediments from tråling

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0269749112003284%20%20%20This%20is%20a%20report%20on%20just%20this.

It is almost as if the information is being filtered.  Now who would benefit from that?

Bottom Trawling

Following the various debates on trawling it is clear that Norway has a 20 kilometer zone inside which no bottom trawling is allowed.

The details i have not been able to firmly ascertain but reading the wikipedia article on trawling some things begin to make sense

Wiki sedimentsDouble click on image to enlarge.

 

One major effect of bottom dredging is the disturbance of sediments

http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=7751&src=ve

The re suspension of sediments means the release of chemicals back into nature

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0269749112003284   This is a report on just this.

sediments - pcbs Double click to read snip

We have nothing on the effects of continual trawling in the seaweed beds but i cannot imagine there is a major difference here – this occurs along the entire coast including bird reserves.

Could this be why  it is illegal to land blue halibut from Bodæ to Lofoten, or outside of Lofoten – they are contaminated by pcbs, but nobody seems to be aware of where these chemicals come from.

http://www.nrk.no/nordland/stenger-omrade-for-blakveitefiske-1.8139255

Blåkveite fisking stengtdouble click to read

 

Norway is a country well aware of any major marine disturbance so why is this allowed –

perhaps this article may give some answers

http://www.dagbladet.no/2009/05/07/nyheter/miljo/krill/antarktis/hav/6102884/

 

We also found some anomalies at the last meeting on Taretråling in Trondheim – there seems to be some confusion about the rights of these trawlers

Final day of the Trondheim seaweed harvesting Meeting.

It seems even the most senior in the fiskeriedirektoratet whose job it is to regulate the activities of these boats are more interested in protecting their activities then they are in regulating them.    http://www.fiskeridir.no/om-oss/telefon-og-e-post-til-ansatte/ressursavdelingen/reguleringsseksjonen/terje-halsteinsen

Seems strange that ordinary trawlers have such strict regulations whereas Seaweed trawlers have every difficulty removed, including priority over ancient rights belonging to our fishermen.

It appears many of Norways major institutions are governed by industrialists involved with exploiting marine resources.  This is quite understandable and in fact common – however the cost in terms of health to individuals and the state and indeed the ultimate cost should their activities impact nature in the way we are all warned about would dwarf any benefit accrued to society or to the individuals concerned.

 

 

Seaweed harvesting – information problems

Over the last few years i have been studying seaweed and its harvesting worldwide on the internet.

A number of things stand out very clearly through contacts with universities, businesses the scientists concerned and many state and private organizations involved with marine protection and welfare –

 

 

The first is that there is no coordinated information on seaweed harvesting, its effects and worldwide activities.

 

Some of the state organizations are amazingly ill informed.

There seems to be no information on the effects of over harvesting, and very little historical data.

 

Universities and researchers seem to be so focused on parts of their particular subject that they seem to be completely unaware of major issues directly concerned with their subject coming from other major research institutions and organizations freely available on the internet. Many research subjects are duplicated.

 

Research is dependent on complete openness and honesty – good researchers rely on status and qualifications. If facts and figures are called into doubt then the credulity of the scientists involved is also called into doubt – status is very important.

 

The scientific world is extremely conservative in outlook and approach – whilst this is a plus for integrity it is open to exploitation.

Information is easy to control as it relies on funding, many of the Norwegian state funded research institutions have industrialists sitting on their boards.

Most environmental problems seem to be involved with business in one way or another.

 

The penalties for withholding information or falsifying information seem to be very minor. Any large concern caught lying can carry on with business as normal.

 

Public outlook and awareness is exploited by organizations and businesses involved with marine harvesting to cover up the effects of their activities.

 

Seabirds dying

it seems that the famous bird reserve on Runde is having problems.  Some specis of birds have nearly completely disappeared and others are in trouble.

http://naturvernforbundet.no/naturogmiljo/import/sjoefugl-paa-randen-av-stupet-article9780-1009.html

 

The article mentions climate change and the warming of our seas as being responsible for the change in fish prey, but no mention at all of Norways biggest marine industry currently raking the entire seaboard for seaweed.

Fully laden tt

 

The connection perhaps requires research but the big question is first is there any research in this direction and second if there was and the result was positive, would it be published?

 

it is interesting to note that Peru and Chile had big problems with sea life in 2011

http://open.salon.com/blog/rick_spilman/2012/05/08/dolphins_and_birds_dying_on_the_coast_of_peru_no_clear_answer_why

Big concerns  involved with seaweed harvesting there including our FMC BIOPOLYMERS – there are a number of theories about this but the fact is the animals appear to have died of starvation.

Thiamine deficiency can do this and the symptoms are difficult to diagnose – this can come about even from some specis of prey fish such as anchovies and herring – their gut from time to time can contain thiaminase which destroys thiamin

http://lan.sagepub.com/content/35/suppl_1/57.full.pdf

Articles are not too difficult to find .

We dont know the mechanisms involved with continual seaweed harvesting in the same areas – we need a great deal more research – but if our seabirds and mammals start dying in numbers then one can say that the same is happening here and there is one common factor.

Thiamin and Thiaminase – Interesting connections with animal deaths.

All animals require vitamins.

Probably the most important is vitamin b1 or thiamin.

We were alerted to the thiamin deficiency syndrome by a large environmental group we work with in Norway.

http://www.pnas.org/content/106/29/12001.full

There were a number of strange reports included – land mammals and birds were also dying –  so why – this could be a very reasonable answer

http://www.ansci.cornell.edu/plants/toxicagents/thiaminase.html

It appears that this chemical Thiaminase is produced by a number of land plants – and is found in the gut of very important sea food animals such as Herring and Sardines – what it does is it renders thiamine useless.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thiaminase   Wikis article on the matter.

This is a report on keeping seabirds and mammals

http://lan.sagepub.com/content/35/suppl_1/57.full.pdf      A small extract on Thiamin and Thiaminase

Thiamine : Thiaminase, which breaks down
the vitamin thiamine, is present in the
t issues of some ®sh. Feeding birds on stored
®sh alone may therefore present a risk of
thiamine de®ciency. However, there is litt le
evidence that this is a problem in practice in
seabirds (although it can be fatal in seamammals). The common practice of feeding
seabirds thiamine supplements tucked into
the opercula or gut of ®sh is also likely to be
of litt le bene®t , as thiaminase is present in
high concentration in the gills and guts and
will rapidly break down all the thiamine in
the supplements.

It seems that thiaminase is found in the gut of herring, and many other specis of fish – it is difficult to find out the mechanisms for this, for instance where the substance comes from and why – it is also found on the surface of some sea urchins, produced by algae – perhaps a protection.

Mass die off peru NY times

This article is about a mass die off of marine birds and dolphins

For the seabirds, he wrote, the “most plausible hypothesis so far” from the National Agricultural Health Service is that they are dying from a lack of food, mainly anchoveta (Engraulis ringens), a Peruvian anchovy, as a result of the sudden heating of coastal waters.

The Environment Ministry said the dolphin deaths had no link to fisheries, red tides or other biotoxins, bacteria, heavy metals or pesticides. It said it had also ruled out any connection to offshore seismic testing by companies to locate oil and gas deposits under the seabed.

The one thing the article does not mention is any connection with thiamin or thiaminase – pure speculation on my part?  There are a few indicators – Anchovies being a nearly exclusive food and thiaminase often being found in their guts and bodies – dolphins in another article appearing to be dying from too rapid ascent and descent causing the equivalent of the bends – a brain malfunction?? Thiamin deficiency can cause this –  How this is connected to seaweed destruction is unclear but it seems that nearly everything in our seas is connected in one way or another – there has been massive uncontrolled harvesting on those coasts, so much so that chile banned it in 2008 though it still continues.

 

Effective Environmentalism.

Watching the Taretråwlers week in week out scraping the sea bottom is a emotive issue for anyone who loves nature and the sea.

We know from reading the reports that the company concerned wants the seaweed beds clear of epiphytes and animals – we know from reading documents on the Thiamin issue that our seabirds are dying – we see them from time to time – their movement is slow and uncoordinated, their wings hang listlessly – often we find the same seabird a few days later – floating in the water dead –

After trawling huge mounds of seaweed are washed ashore – the stalks and stems are completely bare of animal and plant life.  As trawling happens along the entire length of the Norwegian coast where there are viable seaweed beds we know this is everywhere.  There must be vastly larger amounts of stalks littering the sea floor – and this we know from fishermen who catch them in their hooks.

 

This is an empty taretråwler – you can judge its size from the man standing on the back outlined in yellow.

Blue tt with man

 

Fully laden tt       This is what a fully laden one looks like.

 

 

 

 

Talking to other environmentalists many say the same thing – its like a mantra – you can even see it on the taretråwlers website – the quantity of seaweed remains constant.   For many this is enough to walk away – for  the politicians we have spoken to it certainly is enough.

For us though we read further – the scientific papers actually say things like ” observations indicate that diversity of flora and fauna will be reduced within the trawled area. The diversity will probably not recover until the mean age of the plants reach the mean age of the large kelp plants in untrawled kelp forest. Mean age increase with increasing latitude and is about 7 years in mid-Norway ”  As harvesting occurs every 4th year this is not possible.   The word PROBABLY means they dont know.

this quote is from                       Rinde et al. 2006 – Effekter av taretråling

 

Those very simple words have a very STRONG MEANING – it means that the plants and animals normally living in the forests are not allowed to return.

THE FORESTS ARE DEPLETED.    How can that not be an important issue??

If you look at the maps you will see that the areas trawled are along the entire length of the coast – they even have access to over 90 bird reserves.

taretråling feldt fiskeridir

Many of the specis of animals in the forests cannot escape the trawlers so they die where the trawlers operate.

One variety of fish,  the gentle sygnathids would not be able to escape – this family includes the Seahorse of which specis the long nosed seahorse is found as far as North Norway – this is what the paper has to say about such animals   ”    We have little knowledge of rare species in marine ecosystems, and cannot exclude that a high trawling intensity in areas suitable for rare, unidentified species with poor dispersal properties, may lead to reduced occurrence and a negative development of these.”    Ie anything rare they may not know about will have a reduced population and even become extinct.

You cannot have much stronger words than those.

 

This article is about EFFECTIVE ENVIRONMENTALISM  one of our successes is the prosecution of a taretråwler for fishing illegally.  To date this is the only prosecution we are aware of – it seemed that our success only came after we taped a conversation with a senior police officer who felt it his duty to defend the boats no matter what.

More recently our activities have had several successes, but as they are still in the justice system it is not right to say anything other than the vehicle of one of our camera operators was attacked – unfortunately for the attacker he was filmed – we are not seeking to prosecute this but he should be aware that the film has been passed on to the appropriate authorities and we will prosecute if it happens again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The local seaweed harvesting depot – Smørholm taremottak.

Smørholm is a little island tucked between land and kvitholmen just by the atlanterhavsveien.

This is where the local catch of seaweed is landed for processing and shipping.  The trawlers come here to download – it is a buisy place but i never quite realized how busy.  So here is the website run by the proud harvesters.

http://www.kommunenvar.no/?div_id=54&pag_id=55&art_id=1180

 

A little snip smørholm details

Essentially it says that they harvest around 500 tons per day – or 50,000 tons per year.

They say there is no bi catch – that is no animals in the plants – if that is correct then my assertion that the forests are empty is correct – they have successfully managed to remove animals and plants other than seaweed from the forests – it is not that difficult to imagine this as all papers on the matter say it takes 6 to 9 years for them to grow back and the harvesting is every 4 years or less.    What they mean is that there are no lobsters in the catch.  While that is not likely anyway we do have videos of fish dropping out of the catch as it is being moved to the macerator.

Our videos of the seaweed being washed ashore show no epiphytes on the stalks, they should be covered with animals, plants and eggs, they are not.  No wonder our ecology is in trouble.  It takes considerable research to define any major change in our environment – all our research institutes are owned by companies and or the state – we are certain that the state research organizations are reluctant to say or do anything that may  compromise the activities of the harvesting companies  further it is extremely unlikely that any company is going to do research that could compromise its business.

Back to captive regulation.

 

Letter to the council/kommune explaining why taretråling should be stopped 2

Seaweed detoxifying marine pollutants

http://www.biology-online.org/articles/marine-seaweed-detoxify-organic-pollutants.html

 

page 10

   When we posed this question at Runde we were told that seaweed removes little pollution from the sea – documents we trust tell us otherwise. 

  Our dialague with marine biologists have not reinforced our trust particurly as we are told(privately) that many reports are censored and that those that speak out loose their jobs.   It is nearly impossible for a qualified marine biologist to find work if he or she has upset anyone in either the industry or the state.

   It was interesting to hear a very senior official from the fiskeriedirektoratet tell the meeeting at Trondheim that taretrawlers have the same rights as any other fishing boats and that the old law of first right applies to them as to any fisherman – he was quoting from a 1995 law – we had a copy of the 2011 update which denies that.

   This article from the bbc paints a intriguing picture of how the state and industry can become so entwined that the work of either is hampered, it is called regulatory capture.

   The regulators are promised work in the industry they are supposed to regulate, as a result regulation comes second.  In the case of Fukoshima the cost will be the highest for any disaster ever.

  It is possible that every person on this planet may be paying for that soon.

 Corrupt environmental agencieshttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-24332346

There are some distressingly similar characteristics here.  For instance the rawstoffchef in FMC biopolymer              O:D: Kvilhaug worked for the fiskeriedirektoratet as a case handler for 12 years, there are many other instances.

   We work in conjunction with a number of organisations and pass information though most of ours is freely available on the internet

 

    • It is reasonable to assume that if the defence mechanism of tare is triggered then many specis of animals would not choose to be in the seaweed forests.  It is logical to assume that there is a general

page 12

    • lowering of the amount of thiamine available as a result to those animals at the top of the food chain such as birds.

    We contacted Lennert Balk the lead scientist in this work and he agreed that this was a strong posibility.

     Some countries such as chile and peru have had a very agressive seaweed harvesting industry.  We have evidence to suggest that the seaweed beds in Brazil suffered collapse from overharvesting –  though we have only vague reports.

   It was noted that in january 2012 there was a very large die off of marine mammals and birds along that coast.  Reasons given varied from mobilovirus to pollution, but finally the state declared it was starvation

http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2012/0509/What-s-causing-mass-pelican-and-dolphin-deaths-in-Peru

  Lennert Balks article  states that many observers are unable to distinguish between starvation and the effects of the Thiamine deficiency syndrome.  There have been large die offs of birds along the norwegian coast put down to the presence of large numbers of mackrel removing food normally taken by the birds however attempts at finding out if there has been any research done on this matter have led nowhere with no response at all from ornithological groups or individual scientists.

http://www.pnas.org/content/106/29/12001.full

       Commercial scale seaweed harvesting in the west is a relatively new phenomena – the income is impressive – we have information that the best alginates fetch up to 180 dollars per gram – if the yield per load is between 5 and 10 tons per boat then the income is indeed huge and would account for ecological consequences coming second

Page 13

      Recent articles and papers talk about ecological disaster concerning our seas –  the enrichment is approaching catastrophic proportions – the channel coasts of france and

the uk are annualy covered by huge drifts of Ulva specis of seaweed. (this is the same in many parts of the world)

   This type of plant takes over after ordinary seaweeds have been removed. 

      Decomposing seaweed on the Brittany coast have led to the deaths of many mammals – horses, wild boars and even the death of at least one man – the cost of the annual clean up is over 160 million euros and is bourne by the French Government.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/aug/10/france-brittany-coast-seaweed-algae

     – officialy it is due to effluent from pig farms but no one can say that the annual French seaweed harvest is not having an effect.

Even Seaweed cultivating can have an effect – in shingdao china there is an annual slick of this type of seaweed – 2013 the slick covered over 30,000 square kilometres.

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1284156/cause-qingdaos-green-tide-algae-mystery

    The effects of our seas becoming enriched are well documented – a major effect is the increase of harmful algal blooms.  These are polulation explosions of microscopic algae which as a by product of their metabolism produce toxins such as domic acid which are nerve agents. Normally these would effect shellfish and make those eating them very sick, however in the usa these toxins are reportedly becoming airbourne effecting all on or near the sea.

http://www.rense.com/general63/redtide.htm

Red tide lung problems Florida

Norway is not immune from this either – we have an organisation monitoring this

(http://algeinfo.imr.no/eng/html/11/

Norwegian algal blooms monitoring

In the usa harmful algal blooms have been increasing massively – but the sickness that occurs from this is not as major an issue as the occurence on the coast of peru and chile in the 70s where over 500 people died from a cholera epidemic – this is caused by contamination of drinking water however in this case it was carried in the sea by an unusual enrichment of algae – the bacteria attached themselves to the drifting plants and were carried from place to place along the coast – this document from the lancet publication details the events – the article goes further to mention marine enrichment.

http://www.ciesin.columbia.edu/docs/005-390/005-390.html

We are told repeatedly by fmc biopolymers that there is no documented proof that taretråling does any harm.  Repeat anything enough and you will come to believe it –        

       However in view of the reports and scientific documents and the health of the Norwegian coast it is foolhardy to allow this to continue without further research.  One vital element of which should be careful analysis of what has happened in

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other countries(by independant researchers) concerning this industry and why so much of the world currently only grows seaweed  and dosent harvest it from the wild as it has done in the past!!

  •             Our communications with marine biologists worldwide indicate a culture that is not perceptive of new ideas. 

  •            It has few specialists and few who dare publicly to call in question the activities of large companies using the sea,  nor produce information that may harm the seaweed harvesting industry.

  •             There is also a  suspiciously consistent ignorance of the activities of commercial seaweed harvesting companies with environmental charities and organisations. 

Dette papir kommer fra Stopptt.com

Bertram Sømme  95093533