Pacific Maritime Magazine - Marine Business for the Operations Sector

By Chris Philips
Managing Editor 

All the Fish in the Sea


January 1, 2019

The council of the European Union is taking action to reduce plastic pollution by banning the use of plastic and Styrofoam products such as cutlery, plates, straws and food containers, including many that were made to be biodegradable.

According to Bloomberg News, about 6.3 billion metric tons of plastic waste have been generated in the world so far, and the EU claims that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans. We wonder why they didn’t add plastic day-glow safety vests to that ban- the yellow vests seem to be a bigger problem in Europe right now than sporks.

Back here at home, the source of the whole plastic problem is being addressed by the envirolitigators Earthjustice, who are contesting the Trump administration’s approval of offshore oil development in federal waters in the arctic.

The case is being challenged in the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, a court renowned for its uniformity of judicial philosophy.

The suit claims an artificial drilling island and underwater pipeline for Hilcorp Alaska’s Liberty project present a risk of spills in the Beaufort Sea and threaten polar bears and arctic communities. The Liberty project involves construction of a nine-acre island with a 24-acre footprint in about 20 feet of water, and a 5.6-mile pipeline under arctic waters to transport the oil to pipelines onshore.

Earthjustice claims, “The earth needs a good lawyer” and boasts about having filed 118 lawsuits against the Trump administration to date. Parties to the appeal comprise the usual suspects, including the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, all of which depend on private and corporate donations.

In Washington State, many communities have already outlawed single-use shopping bags and plastic straws, so the fish have a fighting chance. But not for long, because apparently killer whales need a good lawyer, too, and the State’s Commissioner of Public Lands, Hillary Franz is on the case. Franz, a lawyer and the former executive director of envirolitigator Futurewise, has submitted a $90 million funding request to help the local Southern Resident Killer Whale population.

The Orcas have been in the news recently because they enjoy eating Chinook salmon, which are currently in short supply in Puget Sound. The habitat restoration and pollution mitigation, for which the Commissioner claims to need the funding, is intended to help increase the Orca population – good news for them, but bad news for the salmon, who apparently don’t have a lawyer.

The logical conclusion to all this litigation was described by Dr. Todd May, a professor of philosophy at Clemson University. Dr. May wrote last month in the New York Times that the planet would be happiest without the human race, who apparently are “the source of devastation of the lives of conscious animals on a scale that is difficult to comprehend.”

Unlike some back east, we don’t support the elimination of the human race – neither do we support pollution, oil spills or threats to arctic communities or polar bears. We do support continued responsible oil exploration and extraction, and suggest that donors looking for places to make charitable contributions consider helping their fellow man first. Mother Earth has been taking care of herself for millions of years- even without advice of counsel.

Chris can be reached at


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