Archive for October, 2013

Oct 30 2013

Cyclical sardine stock decline sets off efforts by greens to suspend West Coast fishery

Seafood News

GRANTS PASS — Concerned sardine numbers may be starting to collapse, conservation groups are calling on federal fishery managers to halt West Coast commercial sardine fishing to give the species a better chance to rebound.

“If they continue fishing them hard, they will go down a lot faster, and it will take them longer to recover,” said Ben Enticknap, of the conservation group Oceana, that wants a suspension through the first half of 2014.

The fishing industry counters that while there are signs sardines are going into a natural cycle of decline, fishery management has taken precautions to prevent overfishing, which was common in the past.

Stock
“Today’s precautionary management framework cannot be compared to the historic fishery, which harvested as much as 50 percent of the standing stock,” said Diane Pleschner-Steele, executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association, which represents sardine fishermen and processors. She is also vice chairman of a committee that advises the federal Pacific Fishery Management Council on sardines and related species.

Current harvest rates range from 15 percent to 25 percent, depending on the size of stocks.

The council plans to vote Sunday in Costa Mesa, Calif., on an interim harvest quota for the first half of 2014. The council has no specific proposal before it, council staffer Kerry Griffin said.

The latest sardine assessment prepared for the council says that stocks at the start of 2014 are expected to be 28 percent of their peak in 2006, when they hit 1.4 million metric tons. The current management plan for sardines says a decline of another 60 percent, to 150 metric tons, would require halting fishing off the West Coast.

Landings in Oregon, Washington and California have been valued at $9 million to $15 million a year. Most of the fish are exported to Asia, where some are canned and others used for bait for tuna.

Read the full story here.

Oct 26 2013

Boom Times for Squid Fishery

The Santa Barbara Independent

For the fourth year in a row ​— ​and with the fastest time ever since modern regulations began in 2005 ​— ​California’s squid-fishing fleet (pictured) hit its annual limit early, with the more than 100 permitted boats landing about 118,000 tons of the slimy species known as Doryteuthis opalescens by October 18, nearly six months before the season ends on March 31, 2014. Much of that haul came from boats working the Channel Islands and Gaviota Coast with bright lights at night, when it’s easiest to snag the squid as they spawn near the shoreline. From there, the Southern California boats deliver their loads to processing centers in Ventura, Port Hueneme, and San Pedro, which then freeze the squid and ship most of them to China. Together with the squid fishers up north in the Monterey Bay, the industry rakes in about $70 million annually.

“They’re the most valuable fishery in the state of California,” said Diane Pleschner-Steele, the Buellton-based director of the California Wetfish Producers Association, which represents commercial fishermen who catch squid, mackerel, sardine, and anchovy. “This was an unusual year. They were spawning way early and everywhere at the same time,” she explained, noting that her association’s research revealed more young squid in August than they usually see in the peak winter season. “It’s a phenomenon we haven’t seen before.”

Another twist this year was that the fishermen and processing centers were enlisted to help track the catch, filing reports daily so that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife would know how much fish was being harvested and wouldn’t shut the season early, as had been done in years past. “We were able to help the department and also maximize the value of the fishery,” said Pleschner-Steele, whose association spearheaded the unique relationship and one day hopes for electronic tracking. “It’s an uncommon partnership.”

Read the full article here.

Oct 25 2013

Sustainable Seafood – A U.S. Success Story

NOAA   FishWatch

The United States is a recognized global leader in responsibly managed fisheries and sustainable seafood. And you can help too!

This video introduces consumers to FishWatch.gov, which provides easy-to-understand, science-based facts to help users make smart, sustainable seafood choices.

Through this video, you’ll learn more about “sustainability” and what NOAA is doing to ensure that our seafood is caught and farmed responsibly with consideration for the health of a species, the environment, and the livelihoods of the people that depend on them.

Have you ever thought about where that piece of salmon on your plate came from? It could have been caught in a wild fishery or harvested from an aquaculture operation. Maybe it’s from the United States, or maybe it was imported from another country, like Canada or Chile?

Read the full story here.

Oct 24 2013

Eastern Steller sea lions removed from Endangered Species Act list

Seafood News

SEAFOOD.COM NEWS [Cordova Times] By Margarate Bauman – October 24, 2013 – Steller sea lions within the eastern distinct population segment, east of Prince William Sound, will be removed from the Endangered Species Act list, Jim Balsiger, administrator for NOAA Fisheries’ Alaska region said Oct. 23.

This is the first species NOAA has delisted, citing recovery, since the eastern North Pacific gray whale was taken off the list of threatened and endangered species in 1994.

The delisting will take effect 30 days after publication of the final rule in the Federal Register.

Balsiger said the agency is delighted to see the recover of this population segment of Steller sea lions, and that they would work with the states and other partners to monitor the population to ensure its continued health.

NOAA officials said delisting is warranted because the species has met the recovery criteria outlined in its 2008 recovery plan and no longer meets the definition of a threatened or endangered species under the act.

Best available scientific information indicates the eastern Steller sea lion population has increased from an estimated 18.040 animals in 1979 to an estimated 70,174 animals in 2010, the most recent year for which data are available.

Eastern Steller sea lions will continue to be protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. With delisting, federal agencies proposing actions that may affect the eastern Steller sea lions are no longer required to consult with NOAA Fisheries under Section 7 of the ESA. NOAA Fisheries will continue to monitor the effects of proposed projects on the eastern population to ensure existing measures under the Marine Mammals Protection Act provide necessary protection to maintain recovery status, Balsiger said.

NOAA has developed a post-delisting monitoring plan for this population. As a precautionary measure, the plan will be in effect for a decade, twice the required five year time period under the ESA.

Read the full story here.

Oct 22 2013

Squid season closes as fishery reaches harvest limit early

After a banner year, squid season ended at noon Friday.

That’s when the California Department of Fish and Wildlife expected fishermen to reach the seasonal harvest limit of 118,000 tons. The department tracks catches and closes the season when the limit is reached.

This year marked the earliest closure since the harvest limit was imposed in 2005. The fishery has reached the limit for the past several years, but not until November or December. A new season starts each April.

While squid fishing tends to have its busiest months during the fall and winter in Southern California, that changed this year.

“The squid showed up early in the summer months in Southern California,” said Briana Brady, a senior environmental scientist with Fish and Wildlife.

The fishing industry also worked hand-in-hand with the state this year to accurately track the daily catch, said Diane Pleschner-Steele, executive director of the nonprofit California Wetfish Producers Association based in Buellton.

Processors are required by law to report numbers twice a month. But this year, they sent in totals daily to help keep a more accurate count, she said.

Preliminary figures showed market squid landings had hit nearly 109,000 tons on Tuesday.

Read the full article here.

Squid - Juan Carlo, Ventura County Star

Oct 11 2013

‘Deadliest Catch’-22: Shutdown may ground crabbing fleet, spoil industry’s richest month

The pots are stacked and the boats are packed with crews craving fishing season’s most fruitful frenzy – the one-month, multimillion-dollar harvest of red king crabs from the ocean floors near Alaska’s shores.

Now, the dreariest catch: the federal shutdown means no crabbing permits are being granted to the boats’ skippers. Without those licenses, dozens of vessels will remain docked indefinitely, their captains legally barred from dropping baited traps, or “pots,” on the season’s opening day, Oct. 15. That would, in turn, leave the crabbing industry reeling and would financially swamp hundreds of fishermen, who earn half of their annual pay during the four-week king-crabbing spree.

Thanks to Capitol Hill’s political snag, the Super Bowl of fishing seasons may be delayed or canceled, spawning global crustacean frustration, from wholesale markets and restaurants touting their superior shellfish to the world’s most crucial crab consumers – Japanese citizens who mark an annual, pre-winter holiday by giving and devouring the gift of red king crabs.

“Tens of millions of dollars are potentially at risk if we can’t get the product to market in time for the holiday season in Japan,” said Mark Gleason, executive director of Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers, a trade association that represents most of the crab fishermen who work aboard 80 boats, some made famous through the TV show “Deadliest Catch.”

Read the full story here.

The Cornelia Marie and its crew work to catch King Crab on the Bering Sea during King Crab season on Deadliest Catch season six.

Oct 11 2013

Beachgoers in Spain discover 30-foot giant squid

Beachgoers in the Spanish community of Cantabria were astonished Tuesday when they stumbled onto the carcass of a giant squid that had washed ashore almost fully intact.

The deep-sea denizen—the fabled and mysterious Architeuthis Dux—measured 30 feet and weighed nearly 400 pounds.

It was delivered to the Maritime Museum of Cantabria, where it was cleaned and frozen, while a decision is awaited between museum scientists and the government as to what will be done with the colossal cephalopod.

(According to El Diario Montanes, there has been some argument regarding ownership, and it remains unclear whether the squid will be put on display, eventually, or dissected in the name of science. According to some reports it was initially to be simply cremated.)

Regardless, the discovery was remarkable, considering that giant squid, although they’re the largest invertebrates on earth, are extremely elusive and, thus, difficult to study.

They generally reside at depths of between 1,000 and 3,000 feet, and most of what scientists have learned has come from carcasses that have washed ashore, and rarely are entire carcasses found.

However, scientists are persistent in their quest to learn more. In 2004, Japanese researchers captured the first known live images of giant squid. In 2006, a team of Japanese researchers brought to the surface a live female squid measuring 24 feet.

The mysterious creatures, meanwhile, remain steeped in lore.

In the times of ancient mariners, Architeuthis Dux, which resides in the lightless depths of all of the world’s oceans, is believed to have spawned tales of sea monsters, such as the legendary Kraken.

Architeuthis Dux was one of the vicious creatures in Jules Verne’s classic science fiction novel, “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.” (First published in 1870; made into a Disney movie in 1954.)

Read the full story and see additional photos here.

Giant squid images are courtesy of Enrique Talledo. Note the size of the eye

Oct 9 2013

Food Blog: Lemon Grilled Sardines

ForgeToday
Total preparation time: 20 minutes. Total cooking time: 7/8 minutes. Total approximate cost: £1.02.

Autumn is definitely upon us now, but for a flavour of summer that is really cheap and not to mention great for you, give these sardines a go!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Lemon
  • 3 Sardines
  • 2 Cloves of garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  1. Clean and gut your sardines. You may be able to find them already prepared, or you can ask a fishmonger to do it for you. However if braving it yourself rub the fish all over to remove any scales, and then just cut the belly from the gills to about 2 cm away from the beginning of the tail and remove the innards. Rinse out and it’s done. See it wasn’t so bad!
  2. Slice the lemon into thin wedges and scatter about half onto a baking tray. With the other half place in the carcass of the fish to allow the citrus flavour to permeate through.
  3. Similarly slice the garlic and do the same.
  4. Place the sardines on top of the lemon wedges, before seasoning and drizzling with olive oil.
  5. Now grill in a preheated oven at about 250C for about 3-4 minutes each side and serve.
  6. Enjoy! Best served with a green salad and some fresh crusty bread.

Read the original recipe and see a photo here.

Oct 2 2013

British study debunks mercury in fish risk for pregnant women

Seafood News

New research from the Children of the 90s study at the University of Bristol suggests that fish accounts for only seven per cent of mercury levels in the human body.

In an analysis of 103 food and drink items consumed by 4,484 women during pregnancy, researchers found that the 103 items together accounted for less than 17 per cent of total mercury levels in the body.

Concerns about the negative effects of mercury on fetal development have led to official advice warning against eating too much fish during pregnancy. This new finding, published today in Environmental Health Perspectives, suggests that those guidelines may need to be reviewed.

Previous research by Children of the 90s has shown that eating fish during pregnancy has a positive effect on the IQ and eyesight of the developing child, when tested later in life. Exactly what causes this is not proven, but fish contains many beneficial components including iodine and omega-3 fatty acids.

After fish (white fish and oily fish) the foodstuffs associated with the highest mercury blood levels were herbal teas and alcohol, with wine having higher levels than beer. The herbal teas were an unexpected finding and possibly due to the fact that herbal teas can be contaminated with toxins. Another surprise finding was that the women with the highest mercury levels tended to be older, have attended university, to be in professional or managerial jobs, to own their own home, and to be expecting their first child.

Overall, however, fewer than one per cent of women had mercury levels higher than the maximum level recommended by the US National Research Council. There is no official safe level in the UK.

Read the full article here.