At the intersection of marine conservation and social, economic, environmental and food justice

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

In the Hospital? Thank Healthcare Without Harm for Your Local Seafood

This post comes to us from Brittany Peats, Health Care Without Harm intern. 

First, what is Health Care Without Harm? 
"Together with our partners around the world, Health Care Without Harm shares a vision of a health care sector that does no harm, and instead promotes the health of people and the environment. 
The mission of Health Care Without Harm is to transform the health care sector worldwide, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it is ecologically sustainable and no longer a source of harm to public health and the environment."

Summer 2013 Health Alliance Seafood Throwdown

What's fish got to do with it?

Fish connects us to ecosystems and communities: 

  • At HCWH, the idea of environmental nutrition focuses on the collective responsibility of supporting community and ecosystem health by paying attention to how food is raised, harvested, processed, transported and purchased. This perspective fosters a healthy, sustainable food system by focusing on strengthening communities, supporting social justice and conserving natural resources through sustainable practices.
  • Buying locally caught fish is an important way to support environmental nutrition. Many New England towns are built around the fishing industry; maintaining the strength of this industry is crucial to preserve fishing communities and enable local fishermen to continue a generations-long tradition.
Why are hospitals buying local seafood?
Locally caught fish promotes patient health and community health: 

  • Serving local fish will improve the health of the community from which the fish is harvested. Like fishing communities, hospitals are important parts of the social and environmental health of their communities. By buying fish from local fisherman, hospitals can showcase underutilized species and balance the demand on the ecosystem.  This may inspire others to buy and eat different species, which will enable local fishermen to fish a variety of species and reduce overfishing of certain popular fish. 
  • Patients will also benefit from added freshness and the higher levels of many micronutrients in wild seafood.

How is Health Care Without Harm helping hospitals source local food?
Education, outreach and technical assistance to help and engage healthcare and the public:

  • Our Balanced Menus Program will assist health care institutions in sourcing sustainable sources of protein, including underappreciated species of seafood from the local fishing communities.
  • To support a pathway to internal hospital purchasing, HCWH worked with the seafood aggregator Red’s Best to source through Sysco and Sodexo accounts. Red’s Best operates out of Boston to aggregate the seafood catch of small and medium-sized day boat fishermen and sell their catch to local wholesalers. As a result of this new partnership, in 2013, Red’s Best sold 5,410 pounds of fish to 16 healthcare facilities in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. 
  • We collaborated with NAMA on Seafood Throwdowns to engage with the healthcare community. These friendly competitions between pairs of hospital chefs charged with preparing the best hospital dish using a whole local seafood species and seasonal farmers market ingredients introduce hospital staff, visitors, and patients to underutilized seafood and increase demand for these varieties through hospital purchasing. 
  • The Celebrate the Fruits of our Ocean campaign with NAMA and the Boston Collaborative for Food and Fitness raised awareness about the challenges of the fishing community and new species of seafood to Boston’s farmers markets.  These communities now have a direct source of fresh, culturally appropriate and environmentally friendly seafood.  

Health Care Without Harm is proud to be part of the shift towards local seafood sourcing. It benefits local fishermen and their communities by establishing larger markets for previously underutilized species; while hospital patients can now enjoy delicious, ecological-responsible seafood.

Monday, March 24, 2014

What we're reading now

Last week's Oceana #wastedcatch report on bycatch in U.S. fisheries makes us love the underdog even more. 

On the 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, oil spills A) don't go anywhere and B) aren't going anywhere

Why fish tales matter, and the people, businesses, and organizations with good stories to tell. 

Is private investment the way to save the ocean? At least in terms of quotas, this Alaskan fisherman thinks not. The president of Palau is betting on marine sanctuaries to do that. 

Finally, a bit of sea life beauty to remind us of one reason why we do what we do. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Honoring Fisheries Activist and Malaysian Airlines Passenger Chandrika Sharma

This post comes to us from Brett Tolley, NAMA's community organizer. 

At NAMA we were greatly disheartened last week to hear that Chandrika Sharma, a tireless advocate for the human rights of small scale fisheries and gender equity, was one of the 239 passengers on the Malaysia Airlines plane that disappeared while crossing the South China Sea.


Before hearing the tragic news I was unfamiliar with the full depth of Dr. Sharma’s work, although I did know of her role as the Executive Secretary for the International Collective in Support of Fish Workers (ICSF). I also knew the ICSF’s organizational values and vision as something we at NAMA share and aspire toward.

As someone humbly involved in the world of community activists who are working toward healthier oceans, better conditions for fishing communities, and a just seafood system, learning of Dr. Sharma’s vision and passion has been incredibly uplifting and inspiring, despite a heavy heart as the investigation for the missing plane continues for nearly two weeks. Sharma is a true Revol-oceanary.

The unresolved crisis surely keeps family, friends, and concerned people around the world offering prayers of hope and peace. Amidst a dark time I wanted to pause for a moment to honor Dr. Sharma and offer some light on many of the inspiring ideas she champions and works towards.

Human Rights

A human rights framework ought to be the foundation of fisheries management because it is key toward creating the basis for individuals and collective action, which we need to achieve positive change.

A set of values and principals for human rights already exists! We can look to many United Nations charters like the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights where it states that we must secure the freedom, wellbeing and dignity of all people; and protect, promote, and fulfill the rights to life and health, food and water, housing and property, a healthy environment, and culture for everyone.
Everyone, including disadvantaged groups, have these legally mandated and recognized rights, and the basis to claim them, not as charity, but as a human right.

Community Access

Small-scale fisheries play a BIG role around the world and account for over half of the globe’s wild caught seafood. Small-scale fishing communities continue to be threatened by both industrial fisheries and the gentrification of coastal communities caused by tourism and industrial development.

Chandrika Sharma (International Collective in Support of Fishworkers) (English) from Simone Ciani on Vimeo.
We must collectively emphasize that fisheries are primarily about a model of food production and we must ask ourselves, what kind of food production model do we want?

Its clear that small-scale fishers and farmers are best poised to produce food most sustainably now and into the future.

Women Fishers

Women account for over half of the global workers involved in small-scale fisheries. If we are to care for small-scale fisheries we must strengthen and protect women’s rights to secure access to lands and to fish resources for processing, trading, and food.

We must also look at the social barriers that discriminate against women and prevent us from achieving gender equality.

This pause for reflection during a difficult time helps me to reaffirm my own commitment in this work, which as Dr. Sharma knows very well, is bigger than fishing communities and health of the ocean. It’s about promoting a world with more peace, justice, and human rights for all – something to keep in our minds and hearts especially now.
To offer your support to Dr. Sharma’s family, her colleague, Ramya Rajagopalan, has kindly offered to pass on messages to her family [].

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

What we're reading now

Chefs can introduce us to plenty of other fish in the sea; and our pal Jared is one guy who can get it to them (or to you, too). 

Splitlips. (One benefit of a great CSF: learning all of the names for different seafood species. Splitlips=one of at least 7 names for redfish)

An infographic on how climate change will alter the food system in general and fisheries specifically. And wondering how warming temps might affect fisheries in the Arctic

Hey, home cooks! Cooking/eating more seafood during Lent? Try clams, mussels, and tuna noodle surprise (yes!) Or anchovies. Or you can pay a visit to The World's Greatest Feminist Fishmonger. Mmm, pickled herring.

More plastic than fish larvae? Gross. Also troublesome. What the marshmallow experiment can help us understand about marine conservation globally

Into sharks? You'll like this

We discovered Upwell this past week. Tip of the hat for being a great source of fun fishy information.  

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Be Bold. Be Brave. Be Happy.

This post comes to us from Niaz Dorry, NAMA's coordinating director. 

Did you watch the Oscars? My favorite part was watching Pharrell Williams and all the dancers perform the song “Happy.”

It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed when fighting for social, economic and environmental justice. So many problems… so little time… so few resources… and such grave situations. What is one to do?

My new mantra: Be Brave. Be Bold. Be Happy.

Be brave seems to be a theme running through my life lately. It started back in December during a meeting of the Food Solutions New England Network and it has continued.

The theme emerged again when I was at the Global Presencing Forum “From Ego- to Eco-System Economies: Creating Well-Being for All.”

I learned more about myself than I expected at the Forum. I expected to go there to learn about strategies for new economies, share the work we are doing to create new fishing economies,network with likeminded people and develop strategies for shifting policies. All of that happened, but what I wasn’t expecting was the emphasis on personal growth, identifying barriers and paving the way to overcome them.

You might ask, what do personal growth and happiness have to do with implementing new economic strategies?

It’s pretty simple: to unseat the current economic paradigm that has undermined the health and well being of the planet and its ecosystems requires taking risks, and being confident, happy, and having a support system that has your back.

You have to be brave and bold to undo the current paradigm. It's a paradigm rooted in neoliberal beliefs that have created policies designed to sell off the rights to the ocean – whether it’s Catch Shares for the fish, zoning to accommodate permits for drilling for fossil fuel or removing coastal designations that take away working waterfronts to put up hotels and novelty shops. 

It also means exposing the truth about the Koch Brothers and the Waltons of Walmart fame who seem to be working in the background using their connections and coffers to fund the efforts to privatize the ocean and other natural resources and aspects of our economy.

Happy NAMA staff and supporters at Farm Aid last September.

 It also means offering solutions and not always complaining. Often, lamenting about the problems is used as an excuse to dismiss activists. 

Solutions like the fleet diversity amendment to the New England groundfish plan that puts in place safeguards to protect against consolidation, concentration of power, and create a pathway for the next generation of fishermen to apply their values to their craft. 

Solutions like Community Supported Fisheries that connect fishermen with eaters and pave the way for transforming fisheries from an extractive model of high volume, low value operations focused on a few species to low volume, high value ones that reflect the diversity of fishermen’s catch.

Solutions like building networks and collaborations across sectors of our economy, food system, and advocacy organizations, particularly those who have never paid attention to fisheries before. For all this work, you need to be joyful. 
 You can’t do this work for the long haul if you can’t see the joy in it.
Anger blurs our judgment and only fuels us for so long before we crash – much like caffeine and sugar does to our bodies. To endure through the hardships, the criticisms, the rumors planted to undermine the work, all the time away from family and friends, and to lift the spirits of others – like the small and medium scale fishermen that also need to endure - you need to approach this work with joy and love in your heart.

I think the need for happiness is what I took away from the Global Presencing Forum the most. Yes, I met some amazing minds and thank the organizers for connecting us with new thinkers and opportunities to expand our network, learn and create new strategies. 

There is much follow up to do on that front to move short and long term objectives of our work forward. But it was the happiness in the room that will stay with me and fuel my soul so I can do this work for years to come.