GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

September 28, 2013

Research trip sparks big-picture ocean talks

Research trip sparks big-picture debate

By Sean Horgan
Staff Writer

---- — The ideas, he says, had been germinating for a while — big-picture ruminations on alternative and sustainable energy sources, with the future of the oceans and their fisheries serving as a backdrop to the more tightly focused attention on Gloucester and its harborfront and fishing issues.

But it wasn’t until this summer, when Camron Adibi took part in a research trip by the Gloucester-based Ocean Alliance to the Gulf of Mexico to study the toxicity of sperm whales after the BP Oil disaster, that it finally crystalized in his mind.

“The thing that nobody wanted to talk about were the dispersants that were used to clean up the oil spill,” Adibi said. “Those were possibly more toxic than the oil itself.

“I got to see it. I got to see the ocean pollution that no one seems to want to talk about, how it’s affecting our groundfish.”

Upon returning to Gloucester, Adibi, an enviromental engineer with particular interest in developing sustainable communities, started raising the issue with friends and colleagues.

“Why isn’t this being talked about more?” Adibi said, citing examples such as the March 2011 nuclear disaster in Japan and the proliferation of other ocean-going pollutants, such as the gigantic floating dumps of discarded plastics now seen in the waters off Asia.

The product of those discussions is Sea Commons, a newly formed Gloucester-based citizen-action group that hopes to raise the level of debate not only on ocean pollution, but the ways that discussion dovetails with many of the waterfront and fishing issues currently being debated in Gloucester.

Included in that, he said, is the growing debate on the concept of ocean management, particularly on the escalating influence and benefits being reaped by corporate interests while the interests of the fishing community generally are ignored.

“The fishermen are being completely excluded from this equation right now,” Adibi said. “The big lobbyists are having a much larger say in what’s happening with the ocean plan.”

The group’s first public event will be Tuesday night, when it sponsors a screening of the documentary “Ocean Frontiers: The Dawn of a New Era in Ocean Stewardship” at the Cape Ann Community Cinema.

“We’d like to use this film as a way to begin this dialogue on how it relates to ocean management, how it relates to the fishermen and how it relates to the harbor-front development which is related to the downtown development,” Adibi said.

The film, produced by Green Fire Productions, is supported by many environmental groups, such as the Conservation Law Foundation, and being screened nationally. It makes the case for “marine spatial planning” and multiple ocean uses.

It was largely underwritten by three foundations, including the National Marine Sanctuary, which lists as one of its partners, The Friends of NOAA. The other two underwriting partners are the Lazar Foundation and the Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment.

“There’s a lot of people coming out and supporting this film,” Adibi said. “To me, there are a lot more questions that need to be asked.

“There’s a lot of things missing in this film,” Adibi said. “People need to come see it and make up their own minds.”

The film is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. and run for about an hour, to be followed by a 45-minute panel discussion. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased in advance and at the door.

Sean Horgan may be contacted at 978-283-7000 x3464, or shorgan@gloucestertimes.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT