Mindil Beach Markets rocked the auditorium at Chatelech Secondary School on May 31 and then delivered an important message to students about the state of the world’s oceans and how they can help fix the problem.
“Did you know that oceans make up 70 per cent of the surface of the planet and 99 per cent of the biosphere, the living space? So that’s the area that living creatures can actually occupy. And they’re in terrible shape,” band member Rod Campbell told students after delivering a fantastic performance with fellow band members Daniel Kingsbury, Cam Ainslie, Patrick Codere and Matt Posnikoff.
The five men are former Chatelech and Elphinstone secondary school grads and their concert-first-environmental-talk-later approach is dubbed the Jellyfish Project.
“You may ask ‘why jellyfish?’” Campbell said. “Well, jellyfish are a great indicator species, so changes in jellyfish populations represent greater changes in the ecosystem. Jellyfish do well in warm waters, polluted waters and in the absence of predators, which are typically large fish, and all over the world we’re noticing that jellyfish blooms are becoming larger and more common. This is because of those conditions.”
One of the biggest problems, students heard, is overfishing: “Right now there are four million boats pulling in 91 million tonnes of fish every year … we’re pulling them out faster than they can reproduce, and that’s a pretty scary thought,” Codere said. “Ninety per cent of our big fish are now gone — swordfish, marlin, sharks and tuna — so we’re now fishing the last 10 per cent of these species and it’s estimated that by 2050 they’ll all be gone.”
Adding to the issue is the method some companies use to catch seafood that results in many unwanted species of fish caught, then discarded to die. The unwanted fish are referred to as “by-catch.”
“For every one pound of shrimp they catch between five and 15 pounds of by-catch, so it’s totally unsustainable,” Kingsbury noted.
There are other issues affecting the ocean, including the large mass of plastic that has accumulated in the Pacific Ocean. The “plastic soup” is estimated to contain 3.5 million tonnes of discarded plastic that in some places reaches 27 metres deep. “Fish and mammals are ingesting it and they’re dying from it,” Codere said.
With the bleak situation of the ocean’s health solidly portrayed for students, Mindil Beach Markets turned to talk solutions.
“All this stuff is pretty depressing, but there is a lot of hope. There is a big movement afoot right now to combat these environmental issues, and it’s really up to our generation to make a change,” Kingsbury said.
“The power is in the consumer. It’s a consumer driven economy. That means if we stop buying things they’ll stop fishing for them and they’ll stop producing them, so you have a lot of power with your dollar and what you spend it on.”
Teens were encouraged to make sustainable seafood choices, only buying seafood with the Oceanwise symbol, and to be mindful of their plastic consumption, recycling whatever they do purchase. They were also encouraged to share their new knowledge and sign online petitions when they become available.
The Jellyfish Project is free to schools, and Campbell said the band would be interested in delivering it to other students on the Coast in the future. To find out more, go to www.mindilbeachmarkets.com.