Countdown for Cod

Once thought of as a resource without end, fishermen are finally bumping up against limits in the world’s cod stocks (see "A Run on the Banks," feature, March/April 2001). In North America, the catch has declined by 90 percent since the early 1980s, forcing the closing of once-thriving fisheries. Now under threat is the stock in the Barents Sea, which is fished by Russia and Norway.

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), this year’s cod quotas have been set "100,000 tons over what is considered sustainable by scientists." The group adds that a further 100,000 tons of cod is thought to be caught illegally every year.

Scientists are finding that the majority of the cod spawning in the sea are getting younger and younger because mature fish have already been caught. "Eggs and larvae of first-time spawners are less likely to successfully develop into fish," the WWF adds. The Barents Sea is itself under threat from climate change, petroleum exploration, heavy shipping traffic and lightly regulated cod farming (which threatens wild populations through interbreeding with escaped farm fish). "Over-fishing continues because policies are driven by short-term economic and political interests," says WWF’s Helen Davies.
CONTACT: World Wildlife Fund, (202)293-4800,

—Jim Motavalli

Green Restaurants Gain Momentum

Ethnic restaurants in California continue to reap environmental and economic benefits thanks to Ritu Primlani’s Greening Ethnic Restaurants (GER) program (see "Redesigning Restaurants," In Brief, July/August 2003). Primlani is currently overseeing a GER pilot project in Los Angeles, and plans to have 200 more green restaurants in California in the next 20 years. This program could be seen in such cities as New York, Philadelphia and Seattle within the next five years, says Primlani.

Members of GER have saved one million gallons of water and diverted 83 percent of their solid waste into recycling and composting streams each year. Primlani’s efforts have won her the California Governor’s Award for Leadership in Environmental and Economic Partnership. This past June she also received the San Francisco Bay Area Community Hero Award.

Members of Thimmakka’s Resources for Environmental Education, founded by Primlani, receive a 10 percent discount to participating GER restaurants in California. "It’s not only an environmental incentive, but an economic incentive," says Primlani. "The discount helps restaurants bring in new customers."

CONTACT: Thimmakka’s Resources for Environmental Education, (510)655-5566,

—Fred Durso, Jr.

Toxins for Tots

As reported in E’s September 2001 cover story "Childhood at Risk," human beings under 12 are most vulnerable to toxins in the environment, given that relative to their weight and size, they consume more food, water and air than adults and spend more time closer to the ground. A recent analysis by the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirms that children are most at risk from pesticides in America’s land, water and atmosphere.

For example, the average six-to 11-year-old is exposed to the nerve-damaging pesticide chlorpyrifos at four times the level considered "acceptable" for long-term exposure by the EPA. "The data show a failure in how we protect people from toxic pesticides," says PAN’s Kristin Schafer.

San Francisco-based PAN, which advocates for alternatives to pesticides, found that the average person in the study carried 13 of the 23 pesticides evaluated. Many of the pesticides have been linked to infertility, birth defects, cancer and other serious ailments.

CONTACT: Pesticide Action Network (North America), (415)981-1771,

—Roddy Scheer