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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Marseilles Day 2 - Life and Lunch

By Kim Wright

Marseille is a historic fishing town and fishing continues to be important
to the community to this day 

Sylvia Earle said, "the most important thing we extract from the ocean is our existence," and thus began Day Two of IMPAC III - and my foray into the science of ecosystem valuation. There are three things about the day that really stand out:
  1. The lunch of sautéed squid was really fantastic
  2.  I almost fell asleep during the afternoon session
  3. Both of these experiences described above are absolutely related to ecosystem services.
In the first case, the link is direct. Marseille is a port town with a history of fishing and lively fish markets. It is one of the many communities on the Mediterranean whose economy and food is derived from the ocean. But our oceans are over-fished and its ability to provide fish to our ever growing populations cannot be taken for granted.

I heard today that no-take MPAs show a 30 percent increase in biodiversity when compared to similarly situated unprotected sites, and that there are 1.5 to 2 times more fish in them. Those fish spill out making the fishing better in proximity to MPAs.

My second experience (although you might think it is related to jetlag or the wonderful wine that was served with lunch) is indirectly linked to ocean ecosystem services. My sleepiness was actually due to attending a very popular seminar in a small room with windows did not open.  The room's oxygen was running out (at least for the purpose of this blog is what I am telling myself).

Which brings us to one of the most powerful contributions of the ocean to our planet: the phytoplankton that produces half of Earth’s oxygen. Anything that impacts the phytoplankton—such as ocean acidification—also impacts our oxygen supply.  A short walk outside helped my drowsiness enormously.

What I learned is that valuing our ocean ecosystem is not always about attaching a monetary value to the ocean's contributions (although for some things this can be done), but rather, valuation is a communication tool that allows us to better understand the contribution of oceans to our lunch and lives!

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