SAVING THE STRIPERS
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
I read Mike Seccombe’s Sept. 12 article on striped bass with great interest. While I have to agree with Kib Bramhall about lowering the recreational limit to one fish a day, Mr. Seccombe left out the other half of the story. Commercial rod and reel fishermen operate under a different set of rules; they are allowed to take 33 fish a day! Every year they kill over a million pounds of striped bass in Massachusetts waters, much of it around the Vineyard. One has to ask how such a slaughter can be justified these days.
Striped bass are an integral part of the Vineyard culture and economy. You would think that Islanders would be doing everything they can to protect this resource, but I am not finding that to be the case. In fact they seem to be leading the charge against protecting striped bass.
At some point in the future striped bass will be totally protected from commercial exploitation. It could happen now before the coming crash, or, in the tradition of other fisheries management disasters, it could happen after they are fished to commercial extinction. What kind of legacy will Islanders leave if they help destroy this magnificent fish?
About 100 years ago Massachusetts was at the forefront of wildlife conservation when it pioneered the effort to protect birds from commercial hunters, eventually making it illegal to sell wild birds or feathers. With the price off their heads most birds recovered. Yet today, Massachusetts seems to have forgotten about conservation, and its waters have becomes a black hole for striped bass that spells the death of a million pounds of bass a year, all for short-term profit. Market hunting for striped bass is an anachronism from the days of the market gunner blasting ducks with a giant punt gun and leg-hold traps.
I read Director of the Division of Marine Fisheries Paul Diodoti’s comments with disbelief. I defy him to stand up in front of an assembly of responsible marine biologists and repeat his fairy tale about a vast untapped reservoir of striped bass on Stellwagen Bank. His comments are eerily reminiscent of the band-played-on comments by other state fisheries managers before the striped bass fishery collapsed in the 1980s. Mr. Diodoti’s suggestion that heavy precipitation, agricultural runoff, and acid rain are causing a decline in striped bass is almost exactly the same mantra rolled out 20 years ago to protect the commercial striped bass fishery, but this comfortable illusion was dramatically proved wrong. When protected from harvest for three years in the early 1990s, striped bass made an incredible comeback.
Pesticides, ocean pollution, PCB, breeding ground destruction, etc. had nothing to do with the crash of striped bass in the 1980s; it was all due to fishing pressure.
As long as striped bass has a price on its head, commercial interests will dominate its management decisions. Mr. Diodoti’s comments are a case in point.
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
Nestlé Waters North America believes that everyone deserves access to a safe, reliable and affordable supply of drinking water, and we applaud the efforts of Irena Salina to highlight this important and complex societal issue in the film Flow. However, the film’s attacks on bottled water, and Mr. Seccombe’s subsequent opinion piece (Festival Film Calls Water the New Oil, As Profits Bottle Up a Public Resource, Gazette, Sept. 12), are misguided. If bottled water disappeared tomorrow, none of the issues identified in the film would be solved.
Most public water is safe to drink, especially in developed countries such as the U.S. But that’s not always the case, as the film points out. On occasion, the quality of public water can be impacted by a spike in pathogens or by pharmaceutical residues. Our spring water brands come from groundwater sources that are more isolated from such risks. And when we bottle public water, we put it through extra filtration steps that most public systems cannot afford, since only one per cent of their supply is used for drinking.
Because of these extra steps to promote quality and safety, it’s not surprising that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend bottled water to people with weakened immune systems. And by law, U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations for bottled water must be as strong and protective of public health as the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations for tap water.
Bottled water is a small, albeit visible, user of water, representing just four one thousandths of one per cent of the total fresh water withdrawal worldwide. And Nestlé Waters North America uses only a small fraction of that. The truth is that the vast majority of water in today’s world gets used for agriculture and industrial manufacturing.
Furthermore, the implication that Nestlé Waters North America privatizes water is untrue. Sometimes we buy water from public suppliers just as other businesses and residents do. Other times we buy or lease land and its associated water rights — like most farmers or industries that use water to produce products. But unlike them, we leave most of the land undeveloped to promote water quality, which provides a good habitat for plant and animal life.
Like most manufactured goods, bottled water does have an environmental impact. However, it’s also one of the most environmentally-conscious packaged beverage options. It uses less water and plastic to produce than other products such as soda, tea or juice. More specifically, Nestlé Waters North America has a long track record of environmental stewardship. Over the past decade, we’ve reduced the amount of PET plastic in our bottles by 40 per cent. Our Eco-Shape® half-liter bottle, introduced in 2007, is the lightest branded beverage bottle and has helped us reduce our overall carbon emissions by 8 per cent.
The world’s water crisis will not be solved by eradicating bottled water, which serves a valuable function especially in times of emergency or during natural disasters like Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. Rather, bottled water is an important consumer choice.
Jane Lazgin is director of corporate communications for Nestle Waters North America.
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
I have seen firsthand the ravages of health issues that a child can suffer when they react to vaccines. It can take many thousands of out-of-pocket dollars per year to help these children recover from metal toxicities. I believe vaccines are a contributing factor. Also, these children often require many additional therapies — occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech and language therapies to help them reintegrate their bodies. There are safe vaccine schedules in Dr. Kenneth Bock’s book Healing the New Childhood Epidemics — Autism, ADHD, Asthma and Allergies. Also, there are many complementary medicine doctors to speak with in order to help your child’s neurological system develop with the best support it can have. Parents need better information to make sure their children are good candidates for vaccines. Not all children react to vaccines. Some do. There is family neurological history involved in this decision. Help the parents to be the best educated so they can make the right decision for their family.
FARM TO SCHOOL
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
Please join us for the first Island Grown Schools community meeting of the 2008-2009 school year on Tuesday, Oct. 7 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Island Co-Housing in West Tisbury (off Chicama Vineyards Road).
Thanks to the hard work and dedication of countless people across the Island, our first year of Island Grown Schools has been incredible. We have installed new school gardens at the West Tisbury, Oak Bluffs and Charter schools, with others in the works at the high school and Edgartown School. This means that in less than a calendar year we will have brought active school garden programs to five of the seven schools on the Island.
The gardens are already being used as teaching tools, for YMCA summer and after-school programs, and in the cafeteria. I went to the Oak Bluffs school last week and everything on the menu had garden-grown ingredients, from pizza with garden tomatoes, basil and eggplant to gazpacho with garden bell peppers to fajitas with garden jalapenos. Delicious! Food service directors are developing and strengthening relationships with local farmers to bring even more fresh, locally grown foods into school meals.
On August 20 Vineyard teachers came to our Island Grown Schools summer institute and each of them developed creative garden and farm-based lesson plans to teach their students this school year. Farm field trips are being planned, worm bins are being built for classrooms, winter growing projects are being developed, and teachers from a wide range of grade levels and subject areas are finding that they can teach what they need through agriculture-based learning.
There is much to do in the year ahead, and we look forward to seeing you at our first community meeting of this school year to chart next steps together.
Please be in touch with questions or ideas, and I hope to see you on October 7.