Dec 15 2016

NOAA: ‘Arctic Is Warming at Least Twice as Fast as the Rest of the Planet’

The Arctic broke multiple climate records and saw its highest temperatures ever recorded this year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) annual Arctic Report Card released Tuesday.

Map: Temperatures across the Arctic from October 2015-September 2016 compared to the 1981-2010 average. Graph: Yearly temperatures since 1900 compared to the 1981-2010 average for the Arctic (orange line) and the globe (gray).NOAA

The report shows surface air temperature in September at the highest level since 1900 “by far” and the region set new monthly record highs in January, February, October and November. “The Arctic as a whole is warming at least twice as fast as the rest of the planet,” report author and NOAA climate scientist Jeremy Mathis told NPR.

Watch the video from NOAA on the annual Arctic Report Card below:

Report Card Highlights

  • The average surface air temperature for the year ending September 2016 is by far the highest since 1900 and new monthly record highs were recorded for January, February, October and November 2016.
  • After only modest changes from 2013-2015, minimum sea ice extent at the end of summer 2016 tied with 2007 for the second lowest in the satellite record, which started in 1979.
  • Spring snow cover extent in the North American Arctic was the lowest in the satellite record, which started in 1967.
  • In 37 years of Greenland ice sheet observations, only one year had earlier onset of spring melting than 2016.
  • The Arctic Ocean is especially prone to ocean acidification, due to water temperatures that are colder than those further south. The short Arctic food chain leaves Arctic marine ecosystems vulnerable to ocean acidification events.
  • Thawing permafrost releases carbon into the atmosphere, whereas greening tundra absorbs atmospheric carbon. Overall, tundra is presently releasing net carbon into the atmosphere.
  • Small Arctic mammals, such as shrews, and their parasites, serve as indicators for present and historical environmental variability. Newly acquired parasites indicate northward sifts of sub-Arctic species and increases in Arctic biodiversity.

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Dec 5 2016

D.B. Pleschner: Extremists manufacture anchovy ‘crisis’ where none exists

By D.B. Pleschner

Guest commentary

When the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) recently reapproved the 2017 annual catch limit for the central stock of anchovy at 25,000 metric tons (mt), environmental extremists immediately cried foul.

Press releases with doomsday headlines claimed that the anchovy catch limit is now higher than the total population of fish in the sea. Environmentalists claim the anchovy resource has “collapsed” and the current catch limit is dangerously high.

But is the anchovy population really decimated, or are these alarmists simply manufacturing another anti-fishing crisis?

Their claims are based on a paper by Alec MacCall, pegging the central anchovy stock at about 18,000 mt. However, the paper analyzed egg and larval data collected over time in California Cooperative Fishery Investigations (CalCOFI) surveys, conducted in the Southern California Bight — and the conclusion is fundamentally flawed. Other scientists now acknowledge that the CalCOFI cruises do not cover the full range of anchovy, missing both Mexico and areas north of the CalCOFI survey track, as well as the nearshore, where a super-abundance of anchovy now reside, say fishermen.

The CalCOFI survey was designed to track sardine, not anchovy. It misses the nearshore biomass where age 0-1 anchovy live and huge schools of anchovy have been observed since 2013. But the MacCall analysis deliberately omitted nearshore egg-larval data. In addition, peak spawning for anchovy is February-March, but CalCOFI surveys run in January and April, as did the MacCall analysis, thus both captured only the tails of spawning.

Clearly, current data are inadequate to develop an accurate anchovy population estimate. At the November 2016 Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting, scientists, the management team and most council members agreed.

In reality, anchovies are now amazingly abundant from San Diego to Northern California. Scientific data as well as fishermen’s observation bear this out:

• Recent NOAA field surveys documented increased anchovy recruitment and multiple year classes, although data from the 2016 summer survey are still undergoing analysis.

• A 2015 NOAA juvenile rockfish cruise report found evidence of record numbers of anchovy larvae and pelagic juveniles, and saw an abundance of anchovy again in 2016.

And consider reports from fishermen like Neil Guglielmo, who fished anchovy from Half Moon Bay to Monterey in the summer of 2016. He saw thousands of tons of anchovy — school after school running from San Francisco to the Farallon Islands, and down the coast to Monterey and beyond. Similar comments come from many fishermen who fish nearshore waters the length of the California coast.

The big increase in anchovy abundance in nearshore waters in recent years has precipitated a record whale-watching spectacle, recounted in media reports from San Francisco to San Diego. And while doomsday press releases and news stories regurgitate environmentalist claims that the anchovy resource has “collapsed,” Monterey Bay Whale Watch posted a video on Facebook of dozens of sea lions and a humpback whale feasting on thousands of anchovies — only two miles from Monterey Harbor!

The bottom line is that anchovy management employs an extremely precautionary approach, capping the allowed harvest at 25 percent of the average overfishing limit estimated to be harvested sustainably over the long term.

So why are ENGOs lobbying to cut the harvest limit to 7,000 mt, drastically lower than the federal limit, even though the draconian reduction would inflict serious harm to California’s historic fishing industry, especially in Monterey?

Scientists acknowledge that anchovy abundance is highly variable, and that variability occurs even without a fishery. Given multiple lines of evidence of anchovy recruitment, clearly there is no biological crisis, but there could be a serious socioeconomic problem if the small anchovy harvest limit is further restricted.

As the Pacific Fishery Management Council deliberates anchovy management, we hope a credible and thorough scientific assessment process and best available common sense will prevail. Evidence of recent anchovy recruitment must be factored into future management decisions; politics should not drive the outcome.

D.B. Pleschner is executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association, a nonprofit dedicated to research and to promote sustainable wetfish resources.

Originally published:

Dec 5 2016

Local harbor seal population appears down, but should rebound

Harbor seals haul out of the water at the beach at Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove on Wednesday. (David Royal - Monterey Herald)

Harbor seals haul out of the water at the beach at Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove on Wednesday. (David Royal – Monterey Herald)

Pacific Grove >> The stretch of coastline from Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey along the rocky shores of Pacific Grove to Pebble Beach is home to a shrinking population of Pacific harbor seals, local experts said.

According to a population census taken on Nov. 25 by husband and wife Thom and Kim Akeman, volunteers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s shoreline program Bay Net, the Pacific Grove Harbor seal population has declined by one-third. Numbers have plunged from about 700 individuals, based on preliminary counts taken by Monterey Bay Aquarium researcher Teri Nicholson in the 1990s, to fewer than 500 in the last couple of years, the Akemans reported. Uncharacteristically warm waters, which depleted the marine environment of oxygen and food, are to blame, they added.

But the bad news may not be as critical as it seems, said Dr. Andrew DeVogelaere, research director at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

“A lot of ocean species have evolved to have a few bad years,” he said. “The population will dip down, and then with more food, go up again.”

The normally cool water off the Central Coast is an oxygen-filled, nutrient-rich haven for all local marine life, from tiny anchovies to magnanimous humpback whales. But 2014’s mild winter made for uncharacteristically warm waters. Because of El Niño, the sea is still above its normal temperature today. The National Marine Fisheries Service, whose scientists have 35 years of oceanic climate data from California, have never seen years like the last few, DeVogelaere said.

The Monterey Bay’s lack of resources can be hard to take note of. Whale-watching companies are celebrating a heyday. Last year, naturalists and tourists watched cetaceans swarm like never before. But whales form large congregations because of the scarcity of food, DeVogelaere said, and they’re forced to converge in the few nutrient-rich locations where they can find a meal.

The changing conditions offshore undoubtedly affect harbor seals, he added.

The harbor seal may be a distant cousin to the adventurous California sea lion and elephant seal, but it’s an entirely different animal. Harbor seals are incredibly loyal to their rocky homes, straying a mere mile or two to swim and feed. If warming coastal waters kill off their food supply, they’ll likely starve.

Mother harbor seals are taking an additional hit. During the pupping season last spring, “lots of the moms didn’t have enough milk and had to abandon pups on the beach,” said Thom Akeman, who has been watching his flippered neighbors sleep and romp along the Pacific Grove shores for 13 years.

Two years ago, female seals weaned 90 healthy pups at Hopkins Marine Station, the largest harbor seal rookery in Pacific Grove. This year, the colony had only 30 pups, many of which were born to mothers too malnourished to rear them.

During Bay Net’s Pacific Grove harbor seal census on Nov. 25, Akeman saw only nine baby seals at Hopkins. He suspects these are the last remaining pups in the colony.

The Pacific Grove harbor seal population is expected to recover, but scientists are unsure how long it will take. Their comeback depends on ocean temperatures cooling, and staying cool for a prolonged time, allowing the food web to prosper once again. But no one can say when, or if, the temperatures will stay low enough for this to happen, said Akeman and DeVogelaere.

The unpredictable effects of global climate change make it a guessing game.

“We’re in an uncontrolled experiment. We’re changing the atmosphere of the world and the chemistry of the oceans. No one has done this experiment before, so we’re really rolling the dice,” DeVogelaere said.

Fortunately for Pacific harbor seals, the local population decline is an isolated oddity. Throughout California, Oregon and Washington, the population is steadily rising. California is home to about 31,000 harbor seals, and many colonies in the Monterey Bay are stable or thriving.

The next Pacific Grove harbor seal count, conducted by the Akemans, is scheduled for late March, when the pupping season begins. The couple, who just began tallying the seals this year, now plan to count them three times a year — in the early spring, summer and fall. They’ll report their findings to NOAA and fellow Bay Net docents through emails and the general public with Facebook.

Teaching others about the environment and the ways to respect wildlife, which Bay Net docents aim to do, is important, DeVogelaere said. And environmental issues and awareness should be given the prominence and attention they deserve, he added.

“I wish people would care about them more,” DeVogelaere said. “They might be affecting the world for their children and their children’s children … But I think in general, people want to do the right thing, if they know what the right thing is. Education is the way to go.”

People look at a harbor seal haul at the beach at Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove on Wednesday. (David Royal - Monterey Herald)People look at a harbor seal haul at the beach at Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove on Wednesday. (David Royal – Monterey Herald)

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Dec 1 2016

Millions of Sardines Cloud San Diego Coast

A large sardine shoal showed up off the coast of California.

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Dec 1 2016

In California, Squid Is Big Business. But Good Luck Eating Local Calamari

A squid salad in Los Angeles. In California, squid is an economic driver of the seafood industry. Bit most of this squid is frozen and exported overseas to China to be processed and distributed across the globe.

A squid salad in Los Angeles. In California, squid is an economic driver of the seafood industry. Bit most of this squid is frozen and exported overseas to China to be processed and distributed across the globe. (Rick Loomis/LA Times via Getty Images)

More than 80 percent of U.S. squid landings are exported — most of it to China. The rare percentage of that catch that stays domestically goes to Asian fresh fish markets or is used as bait.

Ironically, the lion’s share of the squid consumed in the United States is imported.

“Squid is a labor-intensive product,” says Emily Tripp, founder of Marine Science Today, a website on the latest ocean-based research. “It’s cheaper in some situations to ship it to China to be processed and ship it back.”

Tripp, who recently graduated with a masters from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, did her thesis project on California market squid, which, during non-El Niño years, is California’s most valuable fishery.

In California, squid is an economic driver of the seafood industry – it’s the fifth-largest fishery in the United States by weight. Yet most of this squid is frozen and exported overseas to China to be processed and distributed to over 42 countries across the globe. It’s an export market that, according to 2011 figures, is valued at $107 million. Only 1.4 percent of it, on average, makes it back to the U.S. In 2015, that figure was 0.46 percent.

“It has to do with the American desire for a larger squid,” explains Diane Pleschner-Steele, executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association. “A lot of squid that is shipped overseas stays overseas because they prefer it. They eat it over there. Our consumers typically prefer a larger squid, and so there’s just a ton of squid imported into this country that comes in at a far lower price.”

In the U.S., the squid that ends up on our dinner table is typically Patagonian squid from the Falkland Islands or Humboldt squid — a jumbo cephalopod fished predominantly in Mexico and Peru.

California market squid isn’t usually desired because of its smaller size.

“Our squid is a learning curve,” Pleschner-Steele says. “If you overcook it, it can taste like a rubber band. But in my opinion, if you do it right, it tastes more like abalone than any other squid. It’s nutty, sweet and delicate.”

The cost of labor is another, perhaps more significant, factor. Squid cleaning and processing is an extremely time-consuming practice. The eyes, cartilage, skin and guts need to be removed ahead of time, and it’s cheaper to have this done overseas than domestically.

A round-trip freight cost to China is $0.10 per pound and labor is just $7 a day there. By contrast, California wages — with tax and health insurance — amount to $12 an hour, according to Pleschner-Steele.

Also, supply chains and markets are incredibly opaque. Pleschner-Steele suspects that as the Chinese middle-class economy has blossomed, a lot of the squid processing facilities are now based in Thailand.

Tripp says during her research, it was nearly impossible to track down where exactly the squid was being processed abroad.

“The biggest challenge was trying to find out where the squid goes when it leaves to the United States,” she says. “No one wants to say where they partner. It’s a bit of a challenge. In the United States we keep such good records of all of our fish and seafood. There’s no comparable system in China. I couldn’t follow the chain backwards.”

Regardless, the narrative is the same: Californians aren’t eating Californian squid. And if they are, it likely wasn’t processed in California.

At Mitch’s Seafood, a restaurant in San Diego committed to local fish, the owners spent three years looking for a California-based squid processor for their calamari. They eventually found a company in San Pedro called Tri-Marine.

“We have to pay twice as much for it, but it’s worth it so that we can say we offer California-caught and processed squid,” owner Mitch Conniff says. “Squid that’s caught two to three miles away takes a 10,000-mile round-trip journey before I can get it back into my restaurant.”

All Californian fish processors are capable of dealing with squid, Pleschner-Steele says. However, it’s not a money-making operation because people aren’t willing to pay for it.

“It has to be on request,” she says. “We simply can’t compete with the cost of other imported squid. ”

Supporting the local squid industry is much more than just helping the local economy – it’s helpful from a sustainability angle as well.

Even with squid being sent on a round-trip journey across the world, the California market squid fishery has one of the lowest carbon footprints in the industry.

“California squid fishing fleets are one of the most energy efficient in the world because [they’re] so close to port,” Pleschner-Steele says. “Our boats can produce a ton of proteins for about six gallons of diesel fuel. … Efficiency is key.”

Further efficiency, she says, could be achieved if consumers would be keen to fork over $1.50 a pound more for California-caught and processed squid.

But the “truth is that Americans aren’t willing to pay for it,” she says. “If people were willing to pay the price, we can definitely feed the demand.”

Clarissa Wei is a freelance journalist based in Los Angeles and Taipei. She writes about sustainability and food.

Copyright 2016 NPR.

Dec 1 2016

NOAA research links human-caused CO2 emissions to dissolving sea snail shells off U.S. West Coast

November 22, 2016 – For the first time, NOAA and partner scientists have connected the concentration of human-caused carbon dioxide in waters off the U.S. Pacific coast to the dissolving of shells of microscopic marine sea snails called pteropods.

Commercially valuable fish such as salmon, sablefish and rock sole make the pteropod a major part of their diet.

“This is the first time we’ve been able to tease out the percentage of human-caused carbon dioxide from natural carbon dioxide along a large portion of the West Coast and link it directly to pteropod shell dissolution,” said Richard Feely, a NOAA senior scientist who led the research appearing in Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. “Our research shows that humans are increasing the acidification of U.S. West Coast coastal waters, making it more difficult for marine species to build strong shells.”

The global ocean has soaked up one-third of human-caused CO2 emissions since the start of the Industrial Era. While this reduces the amount of this greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, it comes at a cost to the ocean. CO2 absorbed by seawater increases its acidity, reducing carbonate ions, which are building blocks used by shellfish to grow their shells.

fairweather (NOAA)

The pteropod, a sea snail the size of the head of a pin, is found in the Pacific Ocean. It has been the focus of research in recent years because its shell is affected by how much CO2 is in seawater and it may be an indicator of ocean acidification affecting the larger marine ecosystem.

A key piece of the new research was determining how much human CO2  emissions have added to naturally occurring CO2 in seawater off the U.S. West Coast. Using several decades of measurements from the Pacific Ocean taken through the U.S. Global Ocean Carbon and Repeat Hydrography Programoffsite link and new data from four NOAA West Coast research cruises conducted between 2007 and 2013, the research team developed a method to estimate additional CO2 from human-caused emissions since the start of the Industrial Era as compared to CO2 from natural sources.

The analysis shows that concentrations of human-caused CO2 are greatest in shallow waters where the atmosphere gives up large amounts of its CO2 to the sea. The researchers also estimated that CO2 concentrations from fossil fuel emissions make up as much as 60 percent of the CO2 that enriches most West Coast nearshore surface waters. But the concentrations dropped as they measured deeper. It drops to 21 percent in deeper waters of 328 feet or 100 meters, and falls even lower to about 18 percent in waters below 656 feet or 200 meters. Concentrations vary depending on location and seasons as well.

Once researchers created a detailed map of the human-generated CO2 concentrations, they  looked at how pteropod shells fared in areas with varying seawater CO2 concentrations. They found more than 50 percent of pteropod shells collected from coastal waters with the high CO2 concentrations were severely dissolved. An estimated 10 to 35 percent of pteropods taken from offshore waters showed shell damage when examined under a scanning electron microscope.

“We estimate that since pre-industrial times, pteropod shell dissolution has increased 20 to 25 percent on average in waters along the U.S. West Coast,” said Nina Bednaršek of the University of Washington. Earlier research by Bednaršek and others has shown that shell dissolution affects pteropod swimming ability and may hamper their ability to protect themselves from predators.

“This new research suggests we need a better understanding of how changes in pteropods may be affecting other species in the food chain, especially commercially valuable species such as salmon, sablefish, and rock sole that feed on pteropods,” Bednaršek added.

Media Contact:

Monica Allen, 301-734-1123

Nov 9 2016

Sea Snails on Acid

Twice a day the rocky Pacific coast traps seawater in pools as the tide rolls in and out. Compared to the ocean, the puddles are so small and innocuous that it seems nothing momentous could possibly be happening there, but there is. It turns out tiny black turban snails may be getting a buzz from the changing levels of acidity caused by ocean acidification. The scientists at Bodega Marine Lab looked closely at sea stars and snails to find out.

The underside of the purple sea star is covered in tiny delicate suction cups that make one wonder how it moves fast enough to be a voracious hunter, but it is. It’s the bully on the playground, a merciless predator. It can pry open mussel shells, turn its stomach inside out and wrap it around large prey, and digest its meal before even swallowing. It’s no wonder that when black turban snails sense the purple star’s arrival, they all flee to safety, crawling quickly up the side of a tide pool until the enemy leaves the water. Quickly for snails, that is.

Black turban snail, upper right, with its nemesis the purple sea star in the foreground. Credit: Gabriel Ng


Snails have always been good at running away from their primary predator – the purple sea star – until now. Brittany Jellison, a graduate student at University of California Davis, has found in a recent study that the snail’s dramatic response might be slowing down because of ocean acidification. Jellison modified tide pools to mimic ocean acidification conditions. Then she observed the snail’s response by measuring the path they took to safety. What she found when watching the snail was a trippy set of behaviors.

“Elevated carbon dioxide is a foreign substance in seawater, and snails are taking that foreign substance into their body, so yes, they in essence are on drugs,” said Brian Gaylord, a professor at UC Davis Bodega Marine Lab, where Jellison discovered that under ocean acidification conditions, snails didn’t immediately flee the pool to safety.

Ocean acidification occurs when the ocean absorbs excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.  While most scientists studying the phenomenon are trying to understand how it effects a single species in a lab, Jellison’s work explores how ocean acidification effects multiple species interactions.

Brittany Jellison collecting black turban snails for lab studies. Credit: Gabriel Ng


“I think what’s really important here is that she is moving beyond thinking about an individual species, and instead thinking about how the direct effects on individuals scale up when they are in nature and interacting with other species. That is the important part of it,” said Kristy Kroeker, Assistant Professor at the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at University of California Santa Cruz.

Professor Philip Munday of James Cook University agrees. He studies how ocean acidification effects reef fish and their ability to adapt to a changing environment.

“Ecosystems are a whole combination of interactive species,” said Munday. “If we want to understand how ocean acidification is going to impact marine ecosystems we need to understand how it will impact with the really critical ecological interactions, such as predatory-prey interactions. That’s one of the really exciting things about Jellison’s work.”

Tide pools on the Pacific coast have natural fluctuations in acidity, and the black turban snail and other animals that live there have adapted to that. Jellison wondered if the snails would be tolerant to ocean acidification conditions as well, or if they would reach their tipping point, and no longer able to tolerate the changes.

To find out, Jellison made model tide pools in aquariums. So that the snails would feel most at home, she simulated the conditions of natural tide pools, with one exception. Jellison changed the levels of acidification in some of the pools to mimic the levels that are expected for rock pools under ocean acidification by the year 2100. Having some tide pools with normal conditions and some with future acidic conditions allowed her to compare the behavior of sober snails with snails on acid.

With the arena built, let the show begin. Clutching her camera, Jellison carefully lowered black turban snails into the tank. One by one the snails reacted to a chemical cue produced by the predator sea star. Jellison took photos every two minutes for a half hour, then analyzed them for the distance the snails traveled, where they moved, and most importantly, if they left the water and escaped to safety. In total, Jellison did two 5-day trials, created 32 aquariums, tested 32 snails, and took photos every two minutes for 28 minutes per snail.

Under normal conditions, the snails will run away and exit the water, a flight response that keeps them safe. Jellison found that in water with higher acidity the snails started to run away, but instead of moving to dry ground, they seemed to get confused, haphazardly meandering around the pool.

Ocean acidification’s ability to change the interactions between predators and prey can have far reaching consequences. Jellison and her team aren’t yet sure exactly why the snails act confused. They think it’s related to changes in the brain as the animal tries to maintain balanced brain chemistry, which is something they would like to understand further.

“I really love research and I especially love working with marine animals,” said Jellison, “but when I think about what my work is saying about the future it can be a little bit hard to take in. Most of the things we are finding is that the world is going to look very different form what we see today.”

In the meantime, Jellison continues this research out in the field, in a creative study that has her waking up at all hours to hike to the tide pools and observe snails – all to understand the cascading effects of ocean acidification on the ecosystem. “I have a lot of hope that we will move forward as a society and try to come up with solutions and actually make changes. It is having hope that is important,” said Jellison.

Ocean acidification may cross national boundaries, and reach all corners of the earth, but a glimpse into a puddle of seawater reveals an elaborate community, a tiny snail, and a big message.

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Nov 7 2016

West Coast CSF Launches “Boat-to-School” Program to Teach California Students About Seafood

— Posted with permission of SEAFOODNEWS.COM. Please do not republish without their permission. —

Copyright © 2016

Seafood News


SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Civil Eats] By  Anna Guth – November 7, 2016

New programs in three states support local seafood markets while educating children.

A few years ago, Alan Lovewell had a vision. He wanted to replace the bland, deep-fried anonymous “fish” served in school cafeterias with flavorful, locally caught seafood—as a way to bring nutrition to the kids in his area, and help them understand where their food comes from.

Lovewell had created a community supported fishery (CSF) subscription service called Real Good Fish, which provides local seafood direct to consumers, in much the same way that community supported-agriculture (CSA) works for produce. The program enjoyed quick success after it launched out of Monterey Bay in 2012 (it now supplies more than 1,000 members with weekly shares). But Lovewell wasn’t satisfied. In his mind, he had a long way to go to build a regional food system.

The young entrepreneur shifted his focus toward supplying seafood to public K-12 schools, particularly in districts where the majority of students receive free or subsidized meals. In 2014, Real Good Fish partnered with the nonprofit Center for Ecoliteracy to pilot the “Bay2Tray” program in California’s Monterey Unified School District. After a significant number of students reportedly chose the fish tacos over pizza, the team at Real Good Fish knew they had some traction. Bay2Tray quickly spread to three more school districts in the state.

“Looking at the maps [in California], the irony is that most of the areas that produce the nation’s food are in fact food deserts,” says Lovewell, who was recently named a White House “Champion of Change for Sustainable Seafood.” “I realized that the missing piece was schools and children: they have the lowest income and lowest access, and obviously, they are the ones with the vested interest in the future of our oceans.”

The Bay2Tray program is not alone. Across the country in seaside states including Oregon and Massachusetts, schools are piloting a range of models of “boat-to-school” programs. Most of these programs feature an educational component as well as an edible one; organizers provide ethically caught seafood, and an understanding of where and how that seafood was harvested.

In 2015, Real Good Fish received a $6,000 grant from the outdoor clothing company Patagonia to bring the fishermen into the classroom. Fisherman Ernie Koepf, who has a lifetime of experience catching herring in the San Francisco Bay, contributes his spare time. After answering the typical, urgent questions about whether he’s seen a whale—or a shark!—Koepf focuses on making the basic connection between local fish and the food on the kids’ plates.

“When I come into the classroom, I speak to them about seafood [from] the perspective of the food chain—how fish end up on their plates, and how we catch them,” says Koepf. “And they find this very fascinating. It’s a very rewarding experience.”

Building Local Seafood Markets
Consumer awareness and interest in local, sustainably caught seafood has grown in the years since the first CSF, Port Clyde Fresh Catch, took off in Maine in 2008. The fishermen in that community mobilized in response to the decimated stocks of signature New England species like cod and flounder and the resulting tightening of federal fishing restrictions; to save their livelihoods, they abandoned their wholesale markets and sold other, less popular species directly to their community.

CSFs are the first “building blocks for a community to take more control over the [seafood] supply chain,” says Brett Tolley, who comes from a four-generation commercial fishing family and is now a community organizer for the advocacy organization, the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA).
Falling into step, schools and other institutions have a huge role yet to play, notes Tolley. He says he’s starting to see a shift “toward institutions paying fair price and committing to buying a large volume collectively from many smaller, independent businesses.” It’s a change that “stands to make an enormous, game-changing difference to family fishermen and fishing communities, who are right now struggling to survive.”

For fishermen often unable to find a domestic market for their product, the benefits of the local support from boat-to-school programs cannot be overstated. Koepf says he’s looked for outlets for his herring for years—without success—and so he had been selling it exclusively to Japan until Alan Lovewell approached him about Real Good Fish.

Koepf’s story echoes big picture statistics. The U.S. imports 91 percent of its seafood and selling a third of its domestic catch abroad. This global conundrum arises not from a lack of domestic fish—the U.S. successfully adopted stronger fishing regulations in recent years, with healthier fisheries as a result—but rather from our domestic market’s taste for a select few species. Remarkably, shrimp, canned tuna and salmon accounted for 55 percent of all seafood consumed in the U.S.

Companies like Real Good Fish have their work cut out for them, therefore, to introduce new species to students and their members. “We really want children to engage and make that connection between their lunch and the natural world,” says Maria Finn, Real Good Fish’s marketing director. “And we really want our members to be aware that there are seasons in seafood,” she continues. “There are things that have an impact. For instance, if it’s stormy out, they’re probably going to get oysters, clams, or abalone because fishermen can’t go out in the ocean.”

Boat-to-School Programs in Oregon and Massachusetts 

Organizations in other states have followed in Real Good Fish’s footsteps. In Oregon, the Seaside School District is piloting a yearlong boat-to-school program run by the Oregon Albacore Commission (OAC) and funded by a $15,000 farm-to-school education program grant from the Oregon Department of Education.

The curriculum kicked off this October, themed “salmon month,” and includes fieldtrips to a local hatchery, presentations from fishermen, taste tests, and even ingredients for a take-home dinner for families. Students will also explore crab, tuna, pink shrimp, and groundfish such as cod, flounder, halibut, and sole, based on the season

“This is an outlet for us as an industry to tell our story, to talk about the changes that we’ve made, the things that we’re doing right, and to allow children to try something that’s very close to home,” says the OAC’s Vice Chair Christa Swensson, who helped spearhead the grant and who also does marketing for Bornstein Seafood, another supplier and program funder.

In another state where fish is close to home, Deborah Jeffers, the director of Salem, Massachusetts’ Food and Nutrition Services, is sourcing local seafood by using federal funding. Once a week, Jeffers serves Salem high school students with local fish from the nearby Cape Ann Fresh Catch Fishery, which was one of the first CSFs started by the Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association back in 2008.

Jeffers plans to extend the program to the elementary school and provide local fish to all 3,800 students across the 12 schools in her district.

The Benefits and Challenges

For schools, supporting fishermen to catch otherwise unmarketable species can have unexpected cost-cutting benefits. For example, Lovewell convinced black cod fishermen to sell Real Good Fish grenadier, a fish they mostly throw back because, as Finn says, it “has zero markets—it’s really ugly.” For $5 per pound however, the mild, flaky white fish is perfect for fish tacos in schools.

“This is a lesson farm-to-school advocates learned in the apple industry: People started selling cider apples, the really small ones, to schools because they were perfect for little kids,” says Simca Horwitz, the Eastern Massachusetts director for the Massachusetts Farm to School project, reflecting on similar uses of underutilized, abundant fish in east coast schools. “In a lot of ways, schools turning to local seafood today is where we were with land-based agriculture about 10 years ago.”

While all three boat-to-school programs have received strong enthusiasm from students, cost and distribution issues often stress the programs. On the supply side, Real Good Fish now uses a third-party distributor so schools don’t have to coordinate with multiple vendors. But this makes the program almost cost-prohibitive for the company. To help fund the effort, Real Good Fish’s CSF members now have the option to add $1.25 per week to support a school lunch.

Food Services Director Deborah Jeffers in Salem also confirms her costs per portion are higher when she serves fish, but she uses the commodities provided by four U.S. Department of Agriculture lunch programs to supplement the effort.

In a similar strategy, the Oakland Unified School District’s farm-to-school supervisor Alexandra Emmott supplements some of the meal’s protein requirement—a standard of the National School Lunch Program—with a side of rice and beans—in order to serve small portions of fish.

Both Jeffers and Emmott have had to train cooks and cope with the under-resourced kitchens in their districts as well. The entire district serves over 30,000 lunches per day, and many of the kitchens aren’t equipped to prepare food from scratch, let alone de-bone hundreds of pounds of fish.

The question of location is another big one. “I’m lucky, right down the road, we have Gloucester fishermen!” explains Jeffers. “But anyone who is in the center of the state, maybe they have it easier for farms, but where are they going to get their fish? It’s going to have to be delivered to them and maybe frozen.”

Brett Tolley of NAMA has a more optimistic viewpoint. It makes sense boat-to-school programs are piloted near the coast because it’s such a new model, he says. But there’s also a tremendous opportunity to match institutions’ need for healthy proteins with domestically caught fish.

NAMA collaborates with organizations like the Real Food Challenge, Sea to Table, and Health Care Without Harm, which are pioneering the way for institutions to buy large amounts of seafood while still holding suppliers accountable for ecologically sustainable practices.

“Institutions that are more inland and landlocked have been, in many ways, the most vulnerable to being exploited by the industrial seafood system,” Tolley adds. “They only get the fish that has been frozen three times over and traveled thousands and thousands of miles. It’s especially important that we can focus on those institutions.”

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Nov 1 2016

Omega 3 Health Benefits, Nutrition Facts And Sources

October 31st, 2016 — According to a lot of research, omega 3 benefits each of the body’s systems in its own way. The greatest benefits can be found in the heart and the brain.

In places where other fats clog the arteries and contribute to heart disease, the omega 3 fatty acids helps to fight off the heart disease in many ways.

Here I have contributed a list of the things that omega 3 can do for your heart:

  • Anti-Coagulant Activity – helps prevent the formation of clots in the blood
  • Antioxidant Activity – they help to prevent oxidation of the fats that are found in the bloodstream. When the fats become oxidized, they can stick to the artery walls and harden atherosclerosis
  • Relax Smooth Muscles – the help reduce the blood pressure, which can reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack
  • Improves The Levels Of Cholesterol – Cholesterol isn’t all bad. Most individuals who have problems with cholesterol have high levels of LDL and low levels of HDL. The particles of LDL are most
  • likely to stick to the walls of the arteries and create clots. HDL is what helps remove the particles of LDL from the blood. Omega 3 supplements have been known to increase the amount of HDL.
  • Lowers The Amount of Blood Triglycerides – triglycerides are the fats found in the blood. The more fats that are found in your blood, the more likely you are to develop blood clots, have a stroke, or develop heart disease. The prescription medication LOVAX used for high levels of triglycerides is really nothing but omega 3 fish oil
  • Anti-Inflammatory Activity – when the oxidized fats get stuck to the artery walls, they create swelling or inflammation, which makes the arteries even narrower


Read the full report at Cooking Detective 

Read the original post:

Nov 1 2016

Biased Tide Gauges Mean We’ve Been Systematically Underestimating Sea Level Rise

An early 20th-century tide gauge in Venice, Italy. Photo by Stock Italia/Alamy Stock Photo

Most historical tide gauges were installed in the northern hemisphere, a legacy that has been skewing scientists’ modern interpretations of sea level rise. 


In harbors and ports around the world, tide gauges bob up and down with the sea, recording its height over time. In some places, these instruments—through various iterations—have been recording continuously since 1700. Originally installed to help fishing and merchant vessels plan when to enter and leave harbors, the data produced by these old-school gauges has been co-opted by scientists, and now forms the basis of climatologists’ understanding of long-term sea level rise. But as a new study shows, because the majority of these tide gauges were located in North Atlantic port cities, scientists have been systematically underestimating the rate of global sea level rise.

“The gauges are concentrated in the northern hemisphere, in Europe and North America, where traditionally we’ve had a lot of shipping and commerce,” says Phil Thompson, an oceanographer at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa. “That’s contributing to why we don’t get really good spatial coverage over the globe.”

Sea level rise is not occurring evenly across the planet. Tides, currents, and weather systems constantly alter sea levels, while tectonic forces move the land. Changes in Earth’s gravity and rotation also affect sea level, and melting ice caps cause a host of complex effects.

The northern hemispheric concentration of historical tide gauges caused researchers to misrepresent the effects of melting glaciers on global sea level rise. Photo by EyeEm/Alamy Stock Photo

The result of this northern hemispheric concentration in tide gauges, then, is that long-term records have provided data that has led scientists to underestimate the rate of 20th-century sea level rise by as much as 0.2 millimeters per year, says Thompson. This is a fairly large amount, as the average rate of sea level rise over the past century is thought to be around 1.7 millimeters per year.

People have measured the rise and fall of the tides for millennia. In the 3rd-century BCE, Greek explorer Pytheas of Massalia reportedly took note of the tides of Great Britain, and he was the first to notice a correlation between tides and the Moon. But the oldest tide gauge records still in existence date from the 18th century, and are centered in the port cities of Europe and North America. The oldest tide gauges were simple structures, consisting of a long metal tube with an opening under the water which minimized the effects of waves or passing ships. At regular intervals, an observer would record the water level relative to a fixed point on the land.

In the United States, the government started surveying coastlines in 1807, at the behest of Thomas Jefferson, who saw the measurements as valuable for exploration, commerce, and safety. According to the US Congress, accurate charts of the coastline and tides would help naval forces and merchants alike.

In 1851, the US Coast and National Geodetic Survey installed the first self-recording gauge in San Francisco. It contained a pen resting on a scroll that rotated at a constant rate, and when the pen moved up and down with the tides, it traced a graph of water levels.

Over time more tide gauges were installed, and these long-running records became vital to science in a way Jefferson would never have anticipated, says John Fasullo, a sea level rise expert at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.

“You have this problem a lot in climate science,” Fasullo says. “You have some record that exists that was installed with a different intent, and then it’s the only data you have for understanding climate, so you use it any way you can.

“The kind of work [Thompson] is doing is very important for understanding the biases in this data set, which was never designed originally to monitor global mean sea level.”

Specifically, the main source of bias that Thompson found stems from how ice sheets affect regional sea level.

Ice is heavy, so enormous sheets create a subtle gravitational pull, and affect the Earth’s rotation. The result is that ice sheets attract water toward themselves. As these ice sheets melt into the sea, this gravitational pull relaxes. Water slowly moves away from them, and is redistributed toward areas with stronger gravitational pulls, explains Fasullo. Initially, cities near the site of melting ice might see localized sea level rise, but over time they will experience less.

This redistribution of water means tide gauge records of average sea levels in northern hemisphere cities are artificially low, because the northern hemisphere’s ice sheets are thought to be the largest sources of melt. Since tide gauges were predominantly installed in northern hemisphere cities, this is the source of the systemic bias.

The result adds to a growing body of research that suggests the sea level can change dramatically over shorter time periods than expected, says geoscientist Ben Horton of Rutgers University, who measures past sea levels using core samples. He says the result suggests climate models might not be calibrated correctly, which raises questions about their predictions for future sea level rise.

“This is not a feel-good moment. Showing that it is rising faster is not a good answer,” he says. “That indicates that our oceans are even more sensitive to climate change than we previously thought.”

The good news is, now that scientists are aware of this source of bias, they can take it into account in future climate models, Thompson says. The bad news is sea level rise may be happening more quickly than scientists thought.

Read the original article: Rebecca Boyle, “Biased Tide Gauges Mean We’ve Been Systematically Underestimating Sea Level Rise,” Hakai Magazine, November 1, 2016, accessed November 1, 2016,