Archive for May, 2018

Stone Brewing Drops NOFX & Punk In Drublic After Offensive Joke

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San Diego craft brewery Stone Brewing has severed all ties with punk band NOFX after members of the band shared a joke Sunday night about the Las Vegas shooting in October that left 58 dead.

At The Punk Rock Bowling and Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada Sunday night, NOFX members Eric Melvin and Fat Mike Burkett had the following exchange on stage:

Melvin: “I guess you only get shot in Vegas if you’re in a country band,” to which Burkett replied: “At least they were country fans and not punk rock fans.”


The incident they were referring to was from October 1st, 2017 when a gunman opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest music festival on the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada, leaving 58 people dead and 851 injured. We’re just barely 8 months removed from that incident where Burkett’s remarks were said in the very location where the incident occurred.

Stone Brewing brewed the NOFX-themed beer “Punk in Drublic,” which was marketed to fans and beer drinkers alike as a hoppy lager. They were also a main sponsor of the “Punk In Drublic” festival tour that has already completed 5 of its 6 dates. Camp Punk In Drublic, set to take place this weekend in Ohio, is still scheduled to run as planned, just without the sponsorship of Stone Brewing. In addition, NOFX along with Me First and the Gimmie Gimmes, in which Mike plays bass, will no longer perform at Camp Punk in Drublic. The bands will be replaced by The Descendants and The Vandals, respectively.

Stone Brewing released this statement in response to the incident:
“We at Stone Brewing are aware of NOFX’s insensitive and indefensible statements this past weekend. As a result, we are severing all our ties with NOFX, including festival sponsorship and the production of our collaboration beer. We respect punk rock, and the DIY ethos for which it stands. To us, it means standing up for things you believe in, and fearlessly committing to what’s right. And it is for that reason that Stone Brewing is immediately disassociating ourselves from the band NOFX. Stone had a sponsorship deal for this summer’s Punk In Drublic festivals. Emphasis “had.” That sponsorship is now canceled. At this moment, there is Stone NOFX Punk In Drublic Hoppy Lager in the marketplace that was brewed by Stone Brewing. It’s done already. Know that NOFX does not earn any money from the sale of the beer. Nevertheless, to try our best to make some good come out of these awful comments, we have decided that we will donate all profits of the beer to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Foundation, which provides post Route 91 trauma counseling for officers and other first responders alongside other safety programs, training and funding. We have cancelled any future rebrews of this beer. We apologize to the fans of the beer itself, but know that we make this decision out of respect to all. Punk rock is cool. These callous comments were the furthest thing from it.”
NOFX posted this caption to their Instagram, attached to a simple band logo that read: “I can’t sleep, no one in my band can. What we said in Vegas was shitty and insensitive and we are all embarrassed by our remarks. So we decided we will all get together to discuss and write an in-depth, sincere, and honest apology because that’s what the people we offended and hurt deserve.”

Mark Stern and Shawn Stern, founders of Punk Rock Bowling, issued the following the statement via their Instagram: “In light of NOFX’s comments during their performance at the Punk Rock Bowling and Music Festival, we would like to offer a formal apology to those in attendance, the City of Las Vegas, the victims, and the families of 10/1.

Las Vegas is home to the Punk Rock Bowling Music Festival, and we do not condone the statements made from our stage on Sunday night. We take the safety of our festival goers seriously and want to relay that, there is nothing funny about people being shot and murdered, ever.”

With NOFX Fat Mike recusing themselves from the upcoming Punk In Drublic events, in addition to the loss of their signature Punk In Drublic beer and sponsor in Stone Brew, it’s uncertain where the band will go from here with their Punk In Drublic themed initiatives. We’ll update this writing as the group issues a more formal statement addressing their comments and future.

Related Links:
NOFX Website
NOFX Facebook

Article By: Aidan Leddy
Photos By: David Norris

Listen: NOFX – “There’s No ‘Too Soon’ If Time is Relative”

This entry was posted on Thursday, May 31st, 2018 at 1:21 pm and is filed under Daily News.
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Keeping Up with Nemo

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This blog post was written by Anna Smith, an Ocean Conservancy intern working with the Ocean Acidification program for the month of May 2018. Anna is a senior in high school and is looking forward to studying Environmental Sciences in college.     

Believe it or not, fifteen years ago today, everyone’s favorite clownfish had his big debut—our lovely friend Nemo! While the spotlight was on Nemo once again a couple years ago with his role in Disney-Pixar’s Finding Dory, we’re checking in with Nemo today to see how he’s doing, fifteen years after his first Hollywood appearance.

Sadly, Nemo and his friends are facing a reality not quite as uplifting as it may appear on-screen. Many of the difficulties that clownfish and anemonefish are experiencing have to do with the environmental threats affecting their homes, their host anemones. In recent years, large-scale coral bleaching events have resulted in detrimental impacts on coral reef communities and anemones around the world. Stressors including rising sea temperatures, ocean acidification and pollution have driven this coral bleaching, a process that involves anemones expelling the zooxanthellae that provide them with food and their beautiful coloration. And since clownfish depend on anemones for housing and protection, that’s a big problem for both corals and clownfish alike.

Research has shown that fish associated with bleached anemones suffer chronic stress, and high levels of cortisol—a stress hormone—have been detected in their blood. At the same time, this stress response has been linked to a drop in reproductive hormones in male and female clownfish; one study showed a 73% decrease in fertility among clownfish reacting to bleached anemones.  In addition, clownfish reproduce in only a small temperature range and warming waters can have fatal effects on their eggs. Not only does coral bleaching stress our little friends out and deter reproduction, but the mere loss of habitat that follows makes it difficult for them to survive.

Jason MarksJason Marks
© Jason Marks

Weirdly enough, coral bleaching and ocean acidification both severely affect the clownfish senses. Sounds are key cues that help clownfish navigate, detect mates and find food. Although it’s tough for us to sing underwater, sound actually travels very well underwater! Healthy coral reefs are cosmopolitan centers of aquatic life and are bustling, noisy places full of fish buzzing and chirping. These noises help clownfish navigate when trying to find a suitable habitat or seek shelter and assist in distinguishing between places settled by friends and those filled with predators. With coral reefs in rapid decline, these cues are becoming less ubiquitous and intense.

And that’s not all. Scientific studies have proven that increased levels of CO2 in the ocean actually make it difficult for clownfish to hear at all! In experiments on juvenile clownfish raised in water with CO2 levels of today, CO2 levels predicted and simulated for 2050, or for and 2100, researchers found that the clownfish raised in today’s conditions knew well to avoid the sounds of predator-rich reefs. Those raised in higher levels of CO2, however, didn’t seem bothered by the noise at all—they just kept swimming as if they couldn’t hear it! Without proper hearing, clownfish become much more susceptible to predation. Once they spend too much time away from their host anemones, they must rebuild their immunity to their anemone’s stinging nematocysts, which is quite an arduous task and again leaves them vulnerable to predators.

Acidification also challenges clownfish sense of smell. When larvae reach a certain age, they begin looking for an appropriate shallow and tropical coral reef habitat, ideally close to a vegetated island and away from their spawning point. In order to identify such a dwelling place, clownfish move towards the smell of tropical tree leaves and away from the odor of tea tree plants from swamps at the water’s edge, and their parents (an evolutionary adaptation to avoid inbreeding). In experiments resembling those conducted to test hearing, the majority of clownfish larvae raised in more acidic conditions were no longer repelled by the smell of predators, tea tree leaves or their parents. This means it will become more difficult for clownfish to find reefs offering the conditions that will ensure their survival and the health of their offspring.

Given all of these concerns, we are left wondering if Nemo, and the rest of his species, will truly be able to acclimate and survive these challenging times. Since many of these changes are happening so quickly and our oceans are acidifying at such a rapid rate, there might not be enough time for clownfish to properly adapt by evolving. If clownfish moved towards the poles to seek cooler waters, that would take them into increasingly acidified waters, and away from the tropical coral zone they need for habitat. Unfortunately, tropical corals are also struggling to keep up with temperature changes. Nevertheless, Mother Nature never fails to amaze us with her power and ability to work wonders. Although it may seem unlikely, only time will tell if Nemo will be able to adapt to his ever-changing home.

We’re sad that clownfish aren’t doing better on Finding Nemo’s 15th anniversary. We don’t want this movie to serve as a reminder of an extinct fish species to future generations. It is incredible, however, how much we have learned about clownfish due to prior research investments and how science allows us to so closely keep up with Nemo. This also gives us reason to be optimistic. With further scientific funding and research, we can continue to investigate clownfish and find ways to support Nemo on his journey.

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The Family Who Saved the Pacific Northwest Oyster Industry

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Everything started when Masahide Yamashita arrived in Seattle in 1902.

At 19-years-old, Masahide tried his hand at various import-export endeavors ranging from lumber to pearls. But as the relationship between Japan and America waxed and waned, so did his business prospects. Yet he persevered.

Parallel to Masahide’s struggle, the Pacific Northwest oyster industry was in dire straits. Overharvesting and pollution were causing significant die-offs in the region, plummeting oyster population numbers. Shellfish growers floated the idea of importing baby oysters from Japan, but mortality rates were high due to the stress of transportation.

Luckily, Masahide had accumulated experience from his other business ventures and he was able to formulate an efficient shipping method that preserved the baby oysters during their long journey from Japan.

Today, 98% of all oysters sold in Washington are Pacific Oysters (formerly “Japanese Oysters”)

© Patrick Yamashita

Without Masahide, the Pacific Northwest Oyster industry would never have survived.

Not long after Masahide had settled into the booming oyster business, World War II broke out. Anti-Japanese sentiment rose with startling intensity, fueled by the underlying fear of the “Yellow Peril.”

“Before evacuation, a man came down the hill to our tidelands,” Eiichi, Masahide’s son, tells me, “I was only around 17 or so just before the war broke out. I told him he couldn’t go out there and take our oysters. But the man said, ‘well, you’re not going to be here long anyway.’”

In February 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, forcing nearly 110,000 Japanese-Americans living on the West Coast to leave behind their businesses, possessions and homes. Ushered into euphemistically-named “relocation centers,” they found themselves in new and unfamiliar territory, surrounded by barbed wire and guard towers.

Masahide was taken to Fort Missoula in Montana, while the rest of the family, including young Eiichi, was sent to Tule Lake in California. They were incarcerated for three and a half years before finally being reunited.

© Patrick Yamashita

“It was hard,” Eiichi tells me, “Readjusting was hard. But the fortunate thing was that when we came back, the oysters were waiting for us. It was fortunate for us that we had enough oysters to get us started. It saved us.”

“So many people lost everything when they had to go to the camps,” Patrick adds, “They could only have two suitcases or something like that. And many people had businesses that they just had to close up…They lost all of that. They had to start over all over again.”

The interplay between struggle and hard work is a constant theme in the Yamashita story. Since stepping out into the tidelands at age thirteen, Eiichi has been a life-long oyster farmer and a tireless water quality champion after experiencing frequent tideland closures due to pollution.

The first closure happened when Patrick was a junior in high school. Perplexed, he watched his dad continue to work and relay the oysters from the polluted water to clean water, increasing his handling costs and losing his profit margin. He couldn’t understand why his dad would go to such great lengths to continue his work.

“But I know better now,” he says, smiling. “It’s evidence of how Dad perseveres in spite of adversity. I think seeing him and mom struggle through that for years and years really taught us kids something about life and working hard…When you look at immigrant stories in the U.S., there are common themes like working hard for the sake of the whole family. That’s something that kind of evolves as the generations go on.”

Yet despite the hardship and the struggle and the suffering, Eiichi retains an incredible propensity for compassion.

© Patrick Yamashita

“My dad works so hard and throughout much of his life he really struggled financially because of water quality issues,” says Patrick. “Yet, whatever he had, he would share with other people, especially his own knowledge. There are young people just starting out as oyster farmers that turn to Dad for guidance. That’s another lesson I’ve learned—not just thinking about yourself but helping people to grow.”

Eiichi is such a pillar in the shellfish community that last year Leaping Frog Films made a documentary about his life, entitled Ebb Flow. It’s a testament to the resiliency of families like the Yamashitas and a potent example of how the values and legacies we pass down bind the generations through time.

The film, which touches on themes of family, the internment, the environment and the origin of the Pacific Oyster, has a message for every viewer. For Eiichi and Patrick, the film is an opportunity to promote understanding across diverse communities.

“I think one thing that I hope that people take from the documentary is that a lot of people in America would say [internment] could never happen again—We know better now. But I’m not so sure,” warns Patrick.

“It really does scare me at times because people do tend to have their own biases. As do I,” he admits. “We usually don’t realize that these biases can pass on to our future generations. But we really need to be mindful that those things can happen again unless we all stand up for everybody.”

Screen Shot 2018-05-30 at 7.41.17 PMScreen Shot 2018-05-30 at 7.41.17 PM
© Patrick Yamashita

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‘Escape to Margaritaville’ closing on Broadway July 1st

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From Broadway World: “Escape to Margaritaville to Close July 1 on Broadway

Escape to Margaritaville, the new musical featuring the songs of singer-songwriter-author Jimmy Buffett, will play its final Broadway performance at the Marquis Theatre on Sunday, July 1, 2018, after 29 preview and 124 regular performances.

The first stop after Broadway will be Washington, D.C., where Jimmy Buffett and the cast of Escape to Margaritaville will perform on PBS’ “A Capitol Fourth,” celebrating America’s 242nd birthday, on Wednesday, July 4th from 8:00-9:30pm ET.

The Escape to Margaritaville National Tour will officially set sail in October 2019 at the Providence Performing Arts Center in Providence, Rhode Island, before traveling to additional cities throughout the country. The full tour schedule and other information will be announced shortly.

Escape to Margaritaville had its world premiere at La Jolla Playhouse in Spring 2017 where it broke all records, and embarked on a pre-Broadway tour playing New Orleans’ Saenger Theatre, Houston’s Hobby Center, and Chicago’s Oriental Theatre.


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Buffett performs at the Lincoln Center’s American Songbook Gala in NYC

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Jimmy Buffett performed onstage during the Lincoln Center’s American Songbook Gala at Alice Tully Hall on May 29, 2018 in New York City. Others attending the gala include Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban, Diane Sawyer, Bradley Cooper, Tony Bennett, Michael Bloomberg, Emilia Clarke, Lena Dunham, Andy Cohen, Chelsea Clinton, and Kelly Ripa.

Jimmy Buffett with his wife Jane


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Jimmy Buffett talks about the Margaritaville Brand and Footwear

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From Footwear News: “How to Build a Multibillion-Dollar Brand, According to Jimmy Buffett

You won’t find Margaritaville on any map, but it is taking over the globe.

A little over 40 years ago, singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett released his hit album “Changes in Attitudes, Changes in Latitudes,” featuring a catchy tune about wasting away in a tropical locale. In the ensuing decades, the pop song has been transformed into a roughly $2.5 billion licensing and hospitality operation.

Margaritaville Holdings encompasses everything from restaurants and hotels to apparel and shoes. Here in New York, it debuted a Broadway musical in January — “Escape to Margaritaville” — and a Times Square hotel is in the works for 2020.

Buffett is deeply invested in all these endeavors. When FN visited him in the green room at the show in April, Buffett was peering out the window watching the lines outside. And he made a point of mentioning that the cast wears his Margaritaville footwear onstage.

For fall ’18, the company is further boosting its shoe selection with a new label called Island Reserve. It will be a higher-end complement to the Margaritaville collection, which is stocked at major chains such as Famous Footwear and DSW, and sells for under $60.

How would you describe the Jimmy Buffett brand?
“It’s authentic because I lived this way for a long time. I went where it was cold to work when I had
to, but I would prefer to stay where it’s warm. And when I found Key West, I had a job singing in bars and working on fishing boats. And at that time, I thought it was pretty cool to do that.”

Have you enjoyed being in the theater business?
“It’s been a wonderful experience with a joyous cast. When I first started my band, we wanted to take people to a place where they could forget about stuff, and it’s the same thing with ‘Escape to Margaritaville.’ But there are some fun-police in New York that think we don’t belong there, but we’re doing just fine. People love the show. They go there and have a great time, and so to hell with The New York Times.”

What do you hope your legacy will be?
“I like to think I’ve made the world a little happier than it was before I got here. I’m not looking for awards and personal gain more than what I’ve already got. There’s an old French saying, ‘noblesse oblige,’ which means if you’re lucky enough to have this, then you help other people get there. I want to teach and I want to help kids who need financial aid getting into school – education is the thing that gets you places.


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Pepper Releases Signature Wine: The Kona Town Red Blend

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Thomas Booth, a wine maker from Paso Robles, CA, crafted his way into pitching, creating and now offering Pepper‘s newest release, The Kona Town Red Blend.

We hear all the time how bands will release their own signature beer or perhaps a strain of marijuana, but seldom do we see bands releasing their own brand of wine. I imagine that takes a special pairing for things to come together for the branding of a wine.

How did it come together for a Pepper wine? Here’s what Kaleo told The Pier: “Last year we had a show at Vina Robles amphitheater. That night, after the show was finished, there was a bottle of wine on the bus with a Kona Town sticker on it. I looked at it not knowing where it came from or how it got there, but remember it looking so cool and I was really confused on who did this… But one thing was for sure, it looked like something I wanted.”
[Related: Pepper Releases Marijuana Strain: Hawaiian Pepper]

Enter Thomas Booth, who has been making wine all over California since graduating from the Viticulture program at Cal Poly, SLO in 2011. Thomas lives near the Vina Robles Amphitheater and decided to go to the show that night with an agenda, pitch them a Pepper labeled wine!

Thomas tells The Pier: “I always wanted to do a private wine label for Pepper! So I customized the original Kona Town art, made a trip to Staples, slapped a label on a clear bottle of Petit Verdot, and made my way to the concert with friends. I wasn’t allowed into the venue with the bottle so I stashed it in the staff parking lot with a glimmer of hope I could catch the band after their set.”

Turns out that Thomas was able to reach Yesod Bret on Instagram during the show and they actually asked Thomas to leave the prototype with their merch guy. After Pepper’s set, Thomas went back to the parking lot, grabbed the prototype and thanks to the kind understanding of event security, he was able to get it to Pepper’s merch guy. After a couple of days, Thomas followed up with the band and received a call that afternoon from Kaleo expressing interest.

“I took a few of my best barrels samples down to Kaleo’s and we started coming up with some really great blends. A few meetings and a blending trial later, we officially had our product. It was a tough choice but we all agreed that the 50/50 blend was the epitome Kona Town Red Blend.”

The Kona Town Red Blend is a 2016 50/50 blend of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon mixed appellation of Paso Robles and Clarksburg. The Clarkburg fruit is certified Green California Rules which can only be obtained through sustainable environmental friendly practices. The wine was produced through Wine Boss in conjunction with Harmata Family Wines Pepper. Thomas used three different types of oak: American, French, and American – aged for nearly 18 months in barrel.

The next question we had was how does it taste? Thomas tells The Pier: “It’s rich, earthy complex. The onset grabs you with these red fruity characters bridged by an imparting of oaky vanilla flavors. It then finishes with this sort of smooth, savory goodness that leaves you wanting more. It’s delectable and energizing. It’s the end of the day fulfillment and aperitif for what the night has in store.”PepperWine2

Kaleo adds: “No matter how much you know or don’t about wine, The Kona Town Red Blend is pure enjoyment. The way I want everyday to taste when that day is done!”

Within three weeks they sold through 25+ cases of wine with folks already requesting a white and rose. “With all the album art Pepper has, along with my inventory, we have the means to do all kinds of labels and wines,” Thomas explains.

With a retail price of $40.00, the wine is exclusively sold through Wine Boss in Paso Robles, CA or via their online store at — As of this writing they are able to ship to 39 states. There’s talks with many of the venues on Pepper’s upcoming summer tour with Slightly Stoopid Stick Figure in showcasing the wine with VIP tastings so the band and fans can enjoy a glass. Beer X on June 23rd in San Diego is already confirmed.

You can find tour dates below and grab your bottle of The Kona Town Red Blend by clicking HERE!

Related Links:
Pepper Website
Pepper Facebook
Wine Boss Website

Article By: Mike Patti

Watch: Pepper – “Good Thing Going” (ft. Slightly Stoopid)

This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 29th, 2018 at 11:20 am and is filed under Daily News, Law Records.
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Good News About Our Nation’s Ocean Fisheries

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The numbers are in—and we have great news for America’s ocean fisheries! NOAA recently released its annual report to Congress summarizing how the United States is doing in managing its ocean fisheries. The Status of Stocks report for 2017 showed good improvement and is a testament to the impressive progress that we’ve made under our nation’s landmark fishery law, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA).

There is a lot to celebrate in the new report. The percentage of stocks that were overfished in 2017 was at an all-time low—just 15% of stocks. This means that the majority of the fish stocks tracked have large enough population sizes to provide sustained catch. In addition, only nine percent of stocks were experiencing overfishing, which is when the rate of fishing is too high. This remained the same as the previous two years and suggests that fisheries are in larger part successfully staying within science-based catch limits.

With three fish stocks rebuilt just last year, there have been a total of 44 stocks brought back to healthy levels since 2000. The stocks rebuilt in 2017 were three rockfishes from the Pacific coast. These populations were successfully rebuilt ahead of schedule, bringing the stocks back to sustainable populations before estimates deemed possible. This is no small feat, and it speaks to the strength of our management system. The trend in rebuilding is positive, but there are still many stocks in the process of being rebuilt and others where rebuilding plans are just now being developed.

Overall, the report shows just how far our fishery management has come. The situation today is a far cry from that of two decades ago, when more than a quarter of fish stocks were experiencing overfishing, almost 40% were overfished and none had been rebuilt. This turnaround was only possible because of the MSA and important revisions to the law that required managers to set science-based catch limits, take concrete steps to overfishing and make deadlines for rebuilding stocks.

Positive changes like these are part of what makes our fishery management a model for the rest of the world. But now isn’t the time to rest on our laurels—the work doesn’t end because many of our fish stocks are now doing well. Some of our iconic fish, such as the Atlantic cod, continue to be overfished and experiencing overfishing. Climate change poses growing challenges for managing our fish stocks sustainably.

The stakes are high. Healthy fish stocks are critical for a strong economy and environment. Fortunately, we are on the right path. Thanks to the MSA and the managers and fishermen who are working together to rebuild and sustain our fisheries, we can continue this progress and make sure that there are plenty of fish to catch today, tomorrow, and for years to come.

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Buffett performs at the Blossom Music Center

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Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band continued their Son Of A Son Of A Sailor Tour last night at the Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls OH.

The set list from the show is now available. There was one change to the set list the addition of the song “School Boy Heart”.

From The Plain Dealer: “Jimmy Buffett hosts the season-opening party at sold-out Blossom Music Center

Sailor and licensed pilot Jimmy Buffett clearly prefers the open ocean, vast beaches or empty skies … and the fans who had to navigate horrendous traffic for his Son of a Son of a Sailor tour stop at Blossom Music Center Sunday night probably can understand why.

A few changes in latitude and altitude could help with the frayed attitudes caused by battling surprising road closures – why was Northampton Road, the access to the Valley Gate entry, shuttered with no notice? – and lengthy lines to oversold parking lots that moved so slowly that snails were saying, “Eat my dust!”

At least the music made it worthwhile. For two solid hours, Buffett and the crackerjack Coral Reefer Band, aided by 10-time Country Music Association musician of the year Mac MacAnally, kept 20,000 sets of fins moving left and right in the sold-out venue.


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A Safer Bering Strait

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As climate change ushers in rapid changes in the Arctic Ocean, northern nations and communities are scrambling to adapt at multiple scales.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO), a UN body with authority to govern global shipping, made an important step at the international level last week when 174 member states approved a set of measures proposed jointly by the U.S. and Russia to make shipping safer in the Bering Strait.

This narrow passage of water between Alaska and Russia is the marine gateway between the Pacific Ocean and the Arctic Ocean. This region teems with wildlife. It is a critical pathway for thousands of marine mammals like bowhead, beluga and gray whales and millions of seabirds that migrate north each spring to take advantage of the incredible abundance of Arctic summers. It’s also home to indigenous peoples in Alaska and Russia with dozens of communities built on the shores of the ocean to take advantage of the region’s natural bounty. A clean, healthy ocean is critical to food security and their way of life.

The strait, only 53 miles wide at its narrowest point, is also a bottleneck for increasing ship traffic in the Arctic. All ships that travel the Northwest Passage through Canada—or the Northern Sea Route along Russia’s coast—must transit through the strait. This year, the Bering Sea experienced the lowest wintertime sea ice year since at least 1815. More and more ships are expected to travel these waters as sea ice continues to recede.

With increasing ship traffic comes more noise and water pollution, a higher risk of ship strikes on whales, increased conflicts with subsistence activities and the possibility of oil spills. Risks are compounded in the Bering Strait by the presence of sea ice, poor charting and harsh weather conditions.

The remoteness of the region—thousands of miles from response capabilities—means that the impacts of a serious vessel accident, especially an oil spill, would be devastating to the marine environment and the people whose lives and livelihoods depend on it.

The best way to avoid such accidents is to prevent it from happening in the first place. That’s why Ocean Conservancy has been working to get Arctic shipping safety measures in place before a disaster happens. In the years leading up to this decision, we’ve provided expert advice to the U.S. Coast Guard on the legal, policy and environmental grounds for taking precautionary action, contributed data to the mapping showing how the proposals would work in the water, met with Russian experts to discuss the need for a joint approach, and worked directly at the IMO as part of an observer team.

The IMO action approved establishment of designated shipping routes, as proposed by the U.S. and Russia. The routes encourage ships to travel in known, well-charted regions significantly offshore, with a goal of reducing vessel incidents which may endanger lives, lead to devastating oil spills, or impact the subsistence way of life of local communities.

The IMO also approved a U.S. proposal to designate three “areas to be avoided,” which warn vessels to steer clear of three islands in the region (St. Lawrence, Nunavik and King Island). This will help ensure that ships keep their distance from dangerous shoal waters off the coasts of these islands, which are environmentally sensitive and important to Alaska Native subsistence activities.

The IMO has given us another positive example of how international cooperation can help tackle climate change and chart a sustainable future for people and our ocean.

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