Catching Illegal Fishers

Many people reduce their meat intake (which is good!) by swapping it with another animal protein source of fish. The problem here lies in how fishing is done around the world and the crimes committed by too many fishers. Indeed, crime on the high seas is alive and well with fishing vessels partaking in swaths of illicit behaviour. This all sounds bad, but the good news comes down to preventing it.

Indeed, researchers have published the results of a large effort to track when, where, and sometimes why fishing vessels turn off their tracking systems known as AIS. This is fantastic because it will help nations enforce the rules of the ocean by stopping illegal maritime activities.

AIS disabling is also strongly correlated with transshipment events – exchanging catch, personnel and supplies between fishing vessels and refrigerated cargo vessels, or “reefers,” at sea. Reefers also have AIS transponders, and researchers can use their data to identify loitering events, when reefers are in one place long enough to receive cargo from a fishing vessel.

It’s not unusual to see fishing vessels disable their AIS transponders near loitering reefers, which suggests that they want to hide these transfers from oversight. While transferring people or cargo can be legal, when it is poorly monitored it can become a means of laundering illegal catch. It has been linked to forced labor and human trafficking.

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Lentils Instead of Meat Saves Money, Health Costs, and the Planet

beans

Lentils (and other pulses) are a fantastic way to save money, but did you know it’s good for your health and the planet? Researchers have concluded that if people who currently eat meat cut out just red meat it can make a big, positive, difference in their lives and communities. A simple diet change by a lot of people can make a big difference in addressing the climate crisis. Start eating lentils today to save money, protect your health, and to help save the planet.

New Zealand researchers investigated five diets which replace some or all red meat, finding they all could provide the recommended amount of nutrition, save the health system thousands of dollars per person, and cut diet-related greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 35%. The greatest benefits for all of the above were seen for a diet which replaces all meat with minimally-processed plant-based alternatives such as legumes – which also had a 7% lower average grocery cost.

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Low Intensity Farming Gets High Results

Everybody knows that factory farming isn’t a sustainable use of land, but it’s still be practised because people think it’s more efficient. It turns out that low intensity farming produces some stellar results too. Researchers looking into cattle on farms found many benefits from a low intensity approach. Indeed, by practicing low intensity farming farmers cane bring life back to their soil and help benefit many species suffering through the ongoing climate crisis. Let’s be less intense, and if you’re looking for a faster fix to help farm fields recover you can reduce the amount of meat you consume.

Researchers found that less intensively managed grassland had greater diversity of plant species and, strikingly, this correlated with better soil health, such as increased nitrogen and carbon levels and increased numbers of soil invertebrates such as springtails and mites.

In the same study, the researchers used the same methods to examine the plant diversity and soil from grasslands on 56 mostly beef farms from the Pasture Fed Livestock Association (PFLA) – a farmer group that has developed standards to manage and improve soil and pasture health.

The researchers found that plots of land from PFLA farms had greater plant diversity – on average an additional six plant species, including different types of grasses and herbaceous flowering plants, compared to intensively farmed plots from the Countryside Survey. In addition, grassland plants on these farms were often taller, a quality which is proven to be beneficial to butterflies and bees.

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The Future of Food is Algae

cooking prep

In the coming years we’ll be eating more algae if we’re lucky. Amazing algae already accounts for biofuel production and can be used to make bioplastics too, so why not keep looking for other ways to use it? At Cornell, that’s exactly what some researchers did. They discovered that coastal places are ideal places to operate onshore algae farms to grow food, ironically deserts are the some of the most efficient places to do so. With arable land being destroyed for unsustainable low density housing and meat production we need to find other ways to grow nutrients.

With wild fish stocks already heavily exploited, and with constraints on marine finfish, shellfish, and seaweed aquaculture in the coastal ocean, Greene and colleagues argue for growing algae in onshore aquaculture facilities. GIS-based models, developed by former Cornell graduate student, Celina Scott-Buechler ’18, M.S. ’21, predict yields based on annual sunlight, topography, and other environmental and logistical factors. The model results reveal that the best locations for onshore algae farming facilities lie along the coasts of the Global South, including desert environments.

“Algae can actually become the breadbasket for the Global South,” Greene said. “In that narrow strip of land, we can produce more than all the protein that the world will need.”

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Farm Fields of Solar Produce Bonuses

Solar panels on grass

In the UK the average person wants to get off fossil fuels, but the Conservatives in power want the opposite. Obviously this is not good, and it gets worse: the new PM Liz Truss wants to ban solar panels on farms, Conservatives clearly don’t understand how the world works.

The good news comes from research proving that agrivoltaics (agriculture + solar voltaic panels) are a boon to farmers. Solar panels on farms are good for revenue for farms, renewable energy, and the very crops farms are growing. Yes, solar panels on farm increase crop production!

One study found certain peppers will have three times the production,” said Bousselot. “That’s a shocking number.”

As global temperatures rise, the panels can also help to conserve dwindling freshwater supplies by reducing evaporation from both plants and soil.

What evaporation does occur underneath the panels has the added benefit of cooling the PVs and boosting their electricity production, according to Randle-Boggis, a research associate at the University of Sheffield.

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