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September 28, 2013

Research trip sparks big-picture ocean talks

Research trip sparks big-picture debate

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.

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