When a floating dock the size of a boxcar washed up on a sandy beach in Oregon, beachcombers got excited because it was the largest piece of debris from last year’s tsunami in Japan to show up on the West Coast.
But scientists worried it represented a whole new way for invasive species of seaweed, crabs and other marine organisms to break the earth’s natural barriers and further muck up the West Coast’s marine environments. And more invasive species could be hitching rides on tsunami debris expected to arrive in the weeks and months to come.
“We know extinctions occur with invasions,” said John Chapman, assistant professor of fisheries and invasive species specialist at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center. “This is like arrows shot into the dark. Some of them could hit a mark.”
Though the global economy has accelerated the process in recent decades by the sheer volume of ships, most from Asia, entering West Coast ports, the marine invasion has been in full swing since 1869, when the transcontinental railroad brought the first shipment of East Coast oysters packed in seaweed and mud to San Francisco, said Andrew Cohen, director of the Center for Research on Aquatic Bioinvasions in Richmond, Calif. For nearly a century before then, ships sailing up the coast carried barnacles and seaweeds.
LIHUE, Hawaii (AP) – Kauai environmentalists and business interests are clashing over whether to renew a federal permit that would allow a shrimp farm to continue discharging effluent into the ocean.
Sunrise Capital, a unit of the Missouri-based Integrated Aquaculture International, wants to renew its Environmental Protection Agency permit for a shrimp farm in Kekaha.
Sunrise currently produces white shrimp at its facility, mainly for local consumption and breeding stock for export. The firm has plans to produce everything from kahala, moi, oysters, clams, seaweed and algae to produce jet fuel.
George Chamberlain, a founder of Integrated Aquaculture International, told about 50 people gathered at a public hearing Wednesday that the effluent discharge ”has no impact,” according to the Kauai Garden Island.
Other supporters, who comprised about half of the audience, were focused on economic concerns.
”We need those jobs again,” said Tony Ricci, a resident. He contended critics are blowing out of proportion potential problems with discharges.
But other residents and representatives of environmental groups criticized the permit renewal.
Rayne Regush of the Kauai branch of the Sierra Club said her organization opposes the company’s application. If it were renewed, she said the frequency of monitoring should be increased, water-quality testing should also look for bacteria, and monitoring data should be made available online to the public.
WAIMEA — Blessed with some of the purest seawater in the world and sunny growing conditions, the owners of the Kekaha shrimp farm have big plans for their small operation.
Currently producing white shrimp mainly for local consumption and broodstock for export around the world, Sunrise Capital, owned by the Mainland-based Integrated Aquaculture International, has plans to eventually produce everything from kahala, moi, oysters, clams, seaweed, even algae to produce jet fuel.
That makes them, as Dr. Carl Berg of Lihu‘e says, a concentrated aquatic animal production facility, something Dr. George Chamberlain agrees with.
Chamberlain is a director of Integrated Aquaculture International and president of the Global Aquaculture Alliance (gaalliance.org), and conducted a two-hour informational meeting about the Kekaha aquaculture farm at the Waimea Theatre, just before a state Department of Health public hearing on the farm’s application for a permit necessary to discharge farm effluent into the ocean.
The DOH will either approve or deny the continuation of the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit, required by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and monitored by DOH.
The leaves resemble brown lasagna noodles when they wash ashore on coasts around the world. Like many other seaweeds, sugar kelp has all sorts of uses. The leaves of Saccharina latissima provide a sweetener, mannitol, as well as thickening and gelling agents that are added to food, textiles and cosmetics.
But some believe its most important potential is largely untapped: as an addition to the American diet.
Seaweed is widely cultivated and consumed in Asia. However, in North America, where it sometimes is rebranded as a “sea vegetable,” it is cultivated rarely and eaten infrequently. To proponents, this is the unfortunate oversight, considering it is a crop that can clean the water in which it grows, needs no arable land, and provide a nutritious food with traditional roots.