Archive for November, 2013

Nov 24 2013

Time to Take Ocean Acidification Seriously?

Saving Seafood     The Economist Logo
November 22, 2013 — HUMANS, being a terrestrial species, are pleased to call their home “Earth”. A more honest name might be “Sea”, as more than seven-tenths of the planet’s surface is covered with salt water. Moreover, this water houses algae, bacteria (known as cyanobacteria) and plants that generate about half the oxygen in the atmosphere. And it also provides seafood—at least 15% of the protein eaten by 60% of the planet’s human population, an industry worth $218 billion a year. Its well-being is therefore of direct concern even to landlubbers.

That well-being, some fear, is under threat from the increasing amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a consequence of industrialisation. This concern is separate from anything caused by the role of CO2 as a climate-changing greenhouse gas. It is a result of the fact that CO2, when dissolved in water, creates an acid.

That matters, because many creatures which live in the ocean have shells or skeletons made of stuff that dissolves in acid. The more acidic the sea, the harder they have to work to keep their shells and skeletons intact. On the other hand, oceanic plants, cyanobacteria and algae, which use CO2 for photosynthesis, might rather like a world where more of that gas is dissolved in the water they live in—a gain, rather than a loss, to ocean productivity.

Read story from Saving Seafood here.
Read story from The Economist here.

Nov 20 2013

State, squid industry getting together

Capitol Weekly
Recently, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) closed the commercial fishery for market squid Loligo (Doryteuthis) opalescens. The closure came a month earlier than the year before.

This was the fourth straight year that the squid fishery closed early; the season typically extends all year, from April 1 to March 31. The difference this year – unlike the past – was that the Department collaborated with the squid industry on day-to-day management, including the closure date.

Squid fishermen and seafood processors, working with the Department, tracked catches daily from season start in April. They determined that the season’s harvest limit of 118,000 short tons of market squid would be reached early because squid began spawning far earlier than normal  in Southern California in 2013, a fact documented by industry-sponsored squid research.

Read the full article here.

Nov 16 2013

Ocean acidification progressing at an alarming rate

Seafood News

SEAFOOD.COM NEWS [BBC] By Matt McGrath – November 15, 2013 -The world’s oceans are becoming acidic at an “unprecedented rate” and may be souring more rapidly than at any time in the past 300 million years.

In their strongest statement yet on this issue, scientists say acidification could increase by 170% by 2100. They say that some 30% of ocean species are unlikely to survive in these conditions.

The researchers conclude that human emissions of CO2 are clearly to blame.

The study will be presented at global climate talks in Poland next week.

In 2012, over 500 of the world’s leading experts on ocean acidification gathered in California.

Led by the International Biosphere-Geosphere Programme, a review of the state of the science has now been published.

This Summary for Policymakers states with “very high confidence” that increasing acidification is caused by human activities which are adding 24 million tonnes of CO2 to oceans every day.

Read the full article here.

Nov 14 2013

State-of-the-art fishery research vessel Reuben Lasker completed for NOAA to commission in 2014

Seafood News
SEAFOOD.COM NEWS [seafoodnews.com] November 13, 2013 – NOAA has taken delivery of Reuben Lasker, the agency’s newest high-tech fisheries survey vessel from Marinette Marine Corporation, a Fincantieri company. The 208-ft. ship will primarily support fish, marine mammals and turtle surveys off the U.S. West Coast and in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.

“Reuben Lasker represents a significant milestone in the agency’s efforts to provide world-class marine science platforms,” said Rear Adm. Michael S. Devany, director of the NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations and the NOAA Corps. “This state-of-the-art ship will play a key role in supporting NOAA’s mission and serving the nation.”

Built at MMC’s shipyard in Marinette, Wisc., and funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Reuben Lasker is the fifth in a series of Oscar Dyson-class ships built for the agency. The ship is equipped with the latest technology for fisheries and oceanographic research, including advanced navigation systems, acoustic sensors, and scientific sampling gear.

“MMC has a long, established history of delivering exceptionally crafted and complex vessels,” said Chuck Goddard, MMC’s president and CEO. “The talented and skilled workers of MMC are proud to deliver this high quality vessel to NOAA in support of its important mission.”

The ship is also engineered to produce much less noise than other survey vessels, allowing scientists to study fish populations and collect oceanographic data with fewer effects on fish and marine mammal behavior. The ship’s comprehensive environmental sampling capabilities will enable researchers to gather a broad suite of marine life data with unprecedented accuracy.

Read the full article here.

Nov 12 2013

The fish we don’t eat

blackfish - SalonIt’s hard to imagine just how many edible fish there are until you see them arrayed in their multicolored, multi-finned glory. Lobster Place, a bustling seafood shop in the center of New York’s Chelsea Market, is a good place to start. The store’s open display cases hold live sea urchins that respond to the touch; fat, juicy chunks of Hawaiian Wahoo; gigantic, whole tilefish that stare, glassy-eyed at the curious consumer; and other offerings that, were they not labeled, you’d need a degree in marine biology to recognize.

Some, like baby squid and octopi, razor clams, and fillets of specialty catch that retail for upward of $25 per pound, might intimidate the standard home chef in search of something to serve for dinner. This is intentional. Chelsea market draws tourists, upper-class gourmands and Food Network fans in search of weird fish that’s hard to find anywhere else.

Other offerings, though, are just … different. There’s no reason to believe most of the fillets priced by the pound are less tasty or harder to cook than typical supermarket fare. Yet Davis Herron, Lobster Place’s director, says standard fillets of salmon, tuna, cod and halibut are still the specialty market’s biggest sellers.

It’s no coincidence that the most endangered fish are also staples of the American diet. When we talk about overfishing, we’re referring to individual species that consumers — and the market – latch on to, often to the exclusion of other options. As much as we extoll the virtue of seafood, our enthusiasm for those select few suggests, we’re really not all that comfortable with it.

“There’s a fear of seafood,” said Rick Moonen, a renowned seafood chef who was one of the first to advocate sustainable fishing. “For some reason, people get nervous.” Fish are complicated, expensive and easy to overcook. They’re laced with small, sharp bones ready to choke the incautious diner. They smell. The limited number of species we stick to aren’t exceptions, but at least they’re familiar. Yet by refusing to broaden our options, we’re threatening to eat them out of existence.

Read the full article here.

Nov 12 2013

Helicopter ride reveals enormous mass of anchovies, herded by dolphins and whales

When small fish are threatened by large fish or much larger marine mammals in the open ocean, instinct demands that the small fish group together to try to appear larger as a group.

But it’s not often that one of these swirling bait balls contains perhaps millions of anchovies and is large enough to dwarf, by many times, some of the largest predators to roam the ocean.

Nor is it often that a photographer and videographer just happen to be flying overhead when one of these remarkable spectacles plays out.

The accompanying image was captured this week off Ventura, California, by Liz Vernand, who was a passenger with Channel Islands Helicopters.

Read the full article here.

Nov 3 2013

Wetfish industry, state work together to manage squid fishery

Times Standard

Recently, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) closed the commercial fishery for market squid Loligo (Doryteuthis) opalescens. The closure came a month earlier than the year before.

This was the fourth straight year that the squid fishery closed early; the season typically extends all year, from April 1 to March 31. The difference this year — unlike the past — was that the Department collaborated with the squid industry on day-to-day management, including the closure date.

Squid fishermen and seafood processors, working with the Department, tracked catches daily from season start in April. They determined that the season’s harvest limit of 118,000 short tons of market squid would be reached early because squid began spawning far earlier than normal in Southern California in 2013, a fact documented by industry-sponsored squid research.

This uncommon industry initiative — a precedent-setting voluntary effort to cooperatively manage the squid fishery — represents a big step forward for conservation and responsible fishing.

Beginning in 2010, the superabundance of squid available to California fishermen was the product of a decadal resource “boom” the likes of which had not been experienced since 1999. Strong La Niña conditions produced a perfect storm of enhanced ocean productivity and market squid took advantage.

The fishery responded in kind, and markets increased their packing capacity to process the abundance. The squid fishery exceeded the seasonal catch limit in both 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons.

In 2012-13, in lieu of proposed “slow down” restrictions that the industry opposed, the California Wetfish Producers Association (CWPA), a nonprofit organization representing the wetfish industry — including squid — volunteered to help track landings at the end of season. CWPA received full cooperation from participating markets, which helped to validate the Department’s preliminary totals.

Department representatives attended the CWPA annual meeting in March 2013 and discussed ways to improve in-season tracking of squid landings to achieve the goal of attaining the total allowable catch as closely as possible without exceeding the catch limit.

CWPA members volunteered to submit landing receipts daily in order to help track landings virtually in real time from the season start in 2013, and the collaboration between industry and agency began.

All major squid processors signed the CWPA agreement. The Department established a single email address to accept daily landing receipts so markets could voluntarily scan and submit via email.

In addition, it provided a website where markets could voluntarily upload scanned landing receipts, if they preferred. Additionally, the Department agreed to create and post landing updates on CDFW’s market squid page for individual processors and fishermen to monitor fishery progress.

Read the full opinion here.