FERN’s Friday Feed: Monsanto of the sea?

Welcome to FERN’s Friday Feed (#FFF), where we share the stories from this week that made us stop and think.

Big money and thorny questions surround seaweed farming

FERN and National Geographic

“To play a significant role in stabilizing the climate … seaweed farming would need to scale to a level larger than anything North America has ever seen,” writes Bridget Huber. “Much of that expansion would likely be offshore, since the amount of suitable coastline is limited, and potential conflicts with inshore industries like fishing and shipping abound. This nascent transformation, from small-scale, coastal operations to a large, increasingly offshore industry — is raising a host of scientific and ethical questions as well as worries about the environmental and social effects of growing vast amounts of seaweed.”

Hawaii’s feral chickens are out of control

The Atlantic

“On the island of Kauai, wherever humans go, chickens go too. Hens and chicks kick around in grocery-store parking lots and parks. They’re visitors to cookouts and picnics … The birds kick up newly planted condo landscaping and community gardens. Restaurants hand-paint signs asking patrons not to feed the fowl. These are not your average chickens. Descended from birds brought to the island in centuries past, they are now feral, surviving on their own, which suits them just fine,” writes Tove Danovich. “Local lawmakers have attempted to keep the population under control, because although some chickens are a local curiosity, too many are a nuisance … But so far nothing has worked. In the fight between humans and chickens, the chickens are winning.”

Immigrant spaghetti

The Bitter Southerner

Farhan Mustafa writes, “Allow me a Bubba Gump-ish list of spaghettis that I have personally eaten in the U.S.: Jamaican jerk, rasta pasta; Dominican spaghetti called empaguetadas; Nigerian jollof spaghetti; Ethiopian, Eritrean, Somali suugo suqaar; Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and Nepali spaghetti with tomato sauce, and Chinese-influenced versions based on ketchup; Filipino spaghetti with hot dogs; Egyptian spaghetti with shorter-than-normal vermicelli; Lebanese hashweh spaghetti; Southern AF baked spaghetti; Black spaghetti with lots of ground beef; meatless spaghetti with fried catfish; Korean spaghetti with a healthy kick of garlic and gochujang and cheese; yakamein (it often uses spaghetti, so I’m counting it); Creole spaghetti; Greek spaghetti; Memphis barbecue spaghetti; and Mexican spaghetti as interpreted by Southern white moms in community cookbooks.”

Using gaps in boats’ transponder data to track illegal fishing

The Washington Post

“Commercial fishermen regularly disable their location transponders, sometimes for innocent reasons, but often to hide illegal activity,” writes Harry Stevens. “A stark reality confronts anyone who seeks to rein in bad behavior on the ocean: it is very, very big. To pinpoint where in the haystack to search for needles, a team of data scientists and machine learning engineers called Global Fishing Watch collects data from fishing boats’ … transponders, whose signals are picked up by satellites and land-based receivers. Recently, the team at Global Fishing Watch had a novel idea: instead of looking for where fishing boats broadcast their positions, what if they looked for where they hid them?”

Climate change is making insects run for the hills

The Guardian

“In the Alps and Apennines of southern Europe, nearly all the longhorn beetles are moving uphill, and way up at the peaks, the isolation of a brown butterfly with orange-tipped wings is pushing it towards extinction,” writes Gary Hartley. “This is a snapshot of a global trend. With temperatures rising and pressure on biodiversity growing, insects vital to our ecosystems are not only moving north and south, but up. Research shows many animals are making similar moves, but insects’ high levels of mobility and short generation times allow them to respond quickly to change, meaning the uphill momentum can be rapid.”