Remote Protests are visually impressive, but not as effective as public comments

On January 1, 2016, the Southern Fried Science central server began uploading blog posts apparently circa 2041. Due to a related corruption of the contemporary database, we are, at this time, unable to remove these Field Notes from the Future or prevent the uploading of additional posts. Please enjoy this glimpse into the ocean future while we attempt to rectify the situation.

Yesterday, tens of thousands of people’s avatars teleported into the lobby of the National Marine Fisheries Service headquarters in Plaza. Most avatars wore a temporary skin that made them appear to be fish, marine mammals, sea turtles, or sharks. Almost all of them of them carried signs protesting the newly-announced shark fishing quota , which greatly increases total allowable catch for scalloped hammerhead sharks. This was the latest remote protest effort organized by the new, but undeniably augemented reality- and media-savvy, Ocean Conservation Solutions , which also designed all of the custom avatar skins.

Last summer, I predicted that this change to the quota would come. There’s no doubt that scalloped hammerhead sharks have greatly increased in population in the decades since they became the first shark species listed on the U.S. Endangered Species Act (as regular readers now, there are now 18 shark species and 43 batoid species on listed under the ESA). Despite concerns raised by conservationists (including myself), it seems that NMFS’ plan to allow a low-level of fisheries exploitation for hammerheads did indeed allow for overfished populations to rebuild. The newly reauthorized Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation Act, just like every previous iteration, requires that NMFS allow fisheries for any species whose populations can support them. Read More

How to make a completely useless online environmental petition in 5 easy steps

Sites like Care2 and Causes, for better or for worse, make it easier than ever to write and distribute petitions

Sites like Care2 and Causes, for better or for worse, make it easier than ever to write petitions

Online petitions have become a popular tool of the conservation movement. A well-written petition can be an important tool for helping to shape policy, particularly when used as part of a larger and well-organized lobbying and advocacy campaign. Many petitions, however, are so badly written as to be ineffective or even counterproductive when it comes to influencing real policy change. Even worse, they falsely perpetuate the idea that an activist has “done something” about the problem, which may prevent them from participating in a process that could result in real change.

In case you want to join the numerous  activists who are filling my Facebook news feed and e-mail inbox with useless petitions, here is an easy 5 step guide for you to to follow, using examples from some real petitions I’ve been asked to sign.

A note on terminology: Petitions typically contain a few basic elements, which I term here “the problem”, “the target”, and “the solution”. The problem briefly describes the undesirable situation that the petition hopes to remedy. The target is who the petition is directed at. The solution is what should be done about the problem.

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