NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson
June 11 – 30, 2015
Mission: Midwater Assessment Conservation Survey
Geographical area of cruise: Gulf of Alaska
Date: Saturday, June 13, 2015
Weather Data from the Bridge:
Wind speed (knots): 14.16
Sea Temp (deg C): 8.97
Air Temp (deg C): 8.06
Science and Technology Log
During my first several days in Kodiak, I spent as much time as possible exploring the island on foot. I hiked up Pillar Mountain to the wind turbines which now help to make Kodiak virtually 100% renewably powered; 14% comes from these turbines while the bulk of the electricity is generated by Terror Lake hydro-power facility located within the interior of the island. The hydro and wind generation replaced a diesel powered generator and resulted in many benefits to the town and our atmospheric global commons.
The idea of a global commons is one I spend a lot of time discussing in the first days of my environmental science course. The Global Commons includes resources or regions outside the political reach of any one nation state: the Atmosphere, Outer Space, Antarctica, and you guessed it…the High Seas!
June is National Ocean Month – and the theme for this week is marine debris. I recently learned a new doctrine of mare liberum (free sea for everyone), but I’d like to add the latin word for responsibility, officium. Dumping wastes is commonplace with the mantra of “dilution is the solution to pollution” and this practice continues to create challenges in our oceans. Plastics pose a major threat to our marine life and NOAA is taking significant steps toward reducing plastic pollution through a variety of educational campaigns. Plastic marine debris can come from a variety of industrial and domestic products, as well as lost or discarded fishing equipment.
While exploring the lovely little town of Kodiak, I came upon the rare plastic Iqaluk (Iñupiaq word meaning fish):
Another challenge facing our Global Commons includes over fishing in the High Seas. Have you eaten Fish sticks, Filet-o-fish, Imitation-crab….otherwise known as Alaskan Pollock? My mother often told me she craved McDonald’s fish sandwiches while pregnant with me; perhaps those sandwiches somehow led me to this spot 20 miles off the Aleutian Islands? One of the main reasons we are on the Oscar Dyson for the next three weeks is to gather data on the Alaskan Pollock populations so that the fishery can be maintained at a sustainable level. This Alaskan Pollock commercial fishery is one of the most economically valuable and well managed fisheries in the world. Part of this success is due to the implementation of the MSA (Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act) that set up a system governing the EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone – waters three to 200 miles offshore), and also established NMFS (National Marine Fisheries Service) under NOAA (you better know what this means). The UNCLOS (UN Convention on the Law of the Sea) provides international guidelines and law for our oceans. Acronyms…scientists and the military love them. I will learn to love them.
On the topic of marine debris, there are often jokes made on the bridge about the too-fat-to-fly puffins. They furiously flap their little wings in front of our ship.