7 things to know about the world's oceans that could actually help human beings.
True
Waitt Foundation

Sebastian the crab from "The Little Mermaid" was right.

GIF via "The Little Mermaid."


That same human world is taking a big ol' swan dive into the sea and making it a mess, too.

And U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has taken notice.

Here are seven reasons you might wanna take notice too.

1. The oceans don't have just an environmental problem, they have a human problem!

Yes, the sea is acidifying 10 times faster than at any other point in history. And about half of all fish are "fully exploited." But actual humans beings with feelings and families are being hurt because of the lackadaisical way the — ahem — world has been handling crime on our oceans.

Human trafficking, which is a nice way of saying slavery, is a huge problem out there on the high seas.



Image (modified) via Thierry Ehrmann/Flickr.

And it's not just Secretary Kerry who agrees. Indonesia's marine affairs and fisheries minister, Susi Pudjiastuti, has said "In tackling illegal fishing, we are fighting human trafficking."

So, yeah. Let's not have slaves make our tuna salad? I can get behind that.

2. At least $10 billion a year is lost just because of illegal fishing.

That's a lot of billions. According to Kerry, fixing this huge loss isn't about new rules — it's about just making everyone follow the ones that already exist.

Dramatic re-enactment of Kerry's plan. GIF via Funny or Die.

Which means at least $10 billion worth of rules are currently not being followed.

GIF via "Friday Night Lights."

*boggle*


A recent New York Times report stated that, “Globally, illegal fishing costs more than $20 billion annually, and one in every five fish imported to the United States is thought to have been caught illegally."

3. Shady fish = shady humans.


Plain, simple, logical.

4. More than 80% of seafood consumed by Americans is imported. And it's not clear (right now) where it's coming from.

If you don't know where it's from, you don't know that it's not suuuuuper shady.

Kerry has advocated for stronger rules about where the supply chain begins. If he gets his way (and I hope he does!), he aims to establish "an understanding of the fishing chain, but also some sort of sign off or seal of approval as to what the conditions were in which it was fished."

I love it when my fish is signed, sealed, and delivered minus human suffering and ocean sadness! I'm yours.

5. Environmental groups, not governments, are the ones catching the bad guys. Weird, right?

Environmental group Sea Shepherd recently tracked an illegal fishing boat across 10,000 miles for over 100 days. An environmental group. Funded by donations — many from celebrities. Out on the ocean enforcing laws. I'd say that's weird.

On The Outlaw Ocean, "It takes a pirate to catch a pirate." The 4th Installment of The Outlaw Ocean: http://urbina.io/1KuY8Zz
A photo posted by Ian Urbina (@ian_urbina) on

True story!

6. The American government is purchasing seafood items that have some pretty sad (aka slave labor) pasts.

Robert Stumberg, a Georgetown University law professor speaking at a briefing for the Senate Caucus to End Human Trafficking, "analyzed $300 million worth of American government purchases of fishery products, including frozen shrimp, canned tuna and livestock feed, which he said were most likely to be produced by slave labor," according to a recent New York Times report.

$300 million of purchases from the American government (not even the American people!) were most likely produced by slave labor.

As for the American people's purchases, companies known for keeping slaves have been linked to Iams, Meow Mix, and Fancy Feast.

7. The U.S. government can wield its seafood shopping list ... for good!

That $300 million in fishery products is a lot of purchasing power. And we can use it.

I like to hear that America is leading the way in peacefully making a change that could mean less human suffering, less crime, and, well, more happy pets and fewer sad humans, too.

Win, win, meow.

It's hard to talk about, and it's a little overwhelming. But awareness is a step in a really right direction. Awareness is what led Secretary Kerry to speak up and start making steps to get a handle on this.


Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
True

This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.

Keep Reading Show less

The Schmidt family's Halloween photoshoot has become an annual tradition.

Two of Patti Schmidt's three sons were already well into adulthood when her daughter Avery was born, and the third wasn't far behind them. Avery, now 5, has never had the pleasure of close-in-age sibling squabbles or gigglefests, since Larry, Patrick, and Gavin are 28, 26, and 22, respectively—but that doesn't mean they don't bond as a family.

According to People.com, Patti calls her sons home to Point Pleasant, New Jersey, every fall for a special Halloween photoshoot with Avery. And the results are nothing short of epic.

The Schmidt family started the tradition in 2017 with the boys dressing as the tinman, the scarecrow, and the cowardly lion from "The Wizard of Oz." Avery, just a toddler at the time, was dressed as Dorothy, complete with adorable little ruby slippers.

The following year, the boys were Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Chewbacca, and Avery was (of course) Princess Leia.

In 2019, they did a "Game of Thrones" theme. ("My husband and I were binge-watching (Game of Thrones), and I thought the boys as dragons would be so funny," Schmidt told TODAY.)

In 2020, they went as Princess Buttercup, Westley, Inigo Montoya, and Fezzik from "The Princess Bride."

Patti shared a video montage of each year's costume shoot—with accompanying soundtracks—on Instagram and TikTok. Watch:

Keep Reading Show less
True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."