Archive for May, 2011

May 31 2011

Obama Commerce pick sets up showdown on trade with Senate GOP

President Obama introduces commerce nominee John Bryson (Charles Dharapak / AP)

By Daniel Strauss and Sam Youngman

President Obama’s nomination Tuesday of John Bryson as secretary of the Department of Commerce immediately triggered battles with congressional Republicans on trade and the environment.

By nominating a former CEO who has extensive ties to corporate America as secretary of Commerce, Obama continued his aggressive courtship of the business community, which began almost immediately after Democrats lost their House majority last year.

Yet Senate Republicans quickly warned that Bryson’s nomination would be stuck until the administration sends Congress legislation implementing three trade deals, with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.

Other Republican lawmakers took Bryson to task for his work with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which he co-founded at the beginning of his career. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) called him a “green evangelist,” while Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) warned he might place a hold on the nomination.

Read the rest at The Hill.

May 31 2011

Anchovy, sardine populations not at risk

The Santa Cruz Sentinel recently ran a column by D.B. Pleschner, executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association.  It’s reproduced in its entirety below:

By D.B. Pleschner

“In Monterey Bay, and around the world, little fish are in big trouble,” wrote Sascha Zubryd in her May 13 Sentinel article.

The article reported on a new study by Stanford researchers, who expressed surprise that small coastal pelagic fish, such as sardine and anchovy, were as subject to collapse as large predator fish.

But this isn’t news to scientists well-versed in the cycles of these coastal pelagic species. In fact, the first academic research paper that said essentially the same thing appeared in the 1880s, more than 100 years ago.

What’s more, in California, these species are not in trouble.

When asked about the Stanford study, Dr. Richard Parrish, a former member of the West Coast Coastal Pelagic Species Management Team and recently retired from the National Marine Fisheries Service, said, “I am always amazed when academic scientists publish papers on fisheries and are surprised by things that were well-known and published decades ago in fisheries journals.

“The brief answer is yes, small fishes can be and often are overfished,” he added. “The problem is confounded with environmental fluctuations that occur with a periodicity which suggests that you can believe what your grandfather tells you, but you cannot believe what your father tells you.”

Sardines are a classic example.

The storied Pacific sardine collapse in the 1940s was widely blamed on overfishing, but decades later scientific studies of core samples taken from the deep anaerobic trench in the ocean off Southern California revealed layers of sardine scales and layers of anchovy scales corresponding with oceanic cycles. Warm-water cycles favored sardines and cold-water cycles favored anchovies. The bottom line: the sardine population would have declined even without fishing pressure.

Such findings led Dr. Parrish and other members of the management team to design a new, ultra precautionary harvest strategy for sardines when the population was declared fully recovered in 1999.

And the same precautionary principles apply to other coastal pelagic stocks as well, in light of their known cycles of abundance and importance in the ecosystem as forage for other marine life.

Today’s fishery management of coastal pelagic species in California and along the West Coast portion of the California Current Ecosystem is acknowledged as the most precautionary in the world, one of only a few areas deemed to be “sustainable” by internationally recognized scientists Rebuilding Global Fisheries, Science 2009.

The basic management strategy adopted a decade ago for coastal pelagic species harvested in California and on the West Coast maintains at least 75 percent of the fish in the ocean to ensure a resilient core biomass. And the protection rate for sardines is even higher — about 90 percent.

In addition, the state of California is implementing a network of no-take marine reserves throughout state waters. Reserves established at specific bird rookery and marine mammal haul-out sites, for example near Año Nuevo, the Farallon Islands, and the Channel Islands in Southern California, are explicitly intended to protect species such as anchovy, sardines and market squid as forage for other marine life.

Recently, concern over increased utilization of small fishes worldwide has grown in response to a perceived increase in demand for fishmeal for an expanding aquaculture industry.

But again, this risk does not apply to California, as reduction fisheries and fishmeal plants no longer exist in the Golden State.

In Monterey and California overall, people can rest assured that the little fish are not in trouble here; rather these coastal pelagic species are harvested sustainably, and they still contribute enormous benefits to the socio-economic and cultural well-being of our harbor communities.



May 30 2011

Endangered species listing for Atlantic bluefin tuna not warranted

After an extensive scientific review, the NOAA announced last week that Atlantic bluefin tuna do not currently warrant species protection under the Endangered Species Act. 

The entire NOAA press release follows below:

After an extensive scientific review, NOAA announced today that Atlantic bluefin tuna currently do not warrant species protection under the Endangered Species Act.

NOAA has committed to revisit this decision by early 2013, when more information will be available about the effects of the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill, as well as a new stock assessment from the scientific arm of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, the international body charged with the fish’s management and conservation.

NOAA is formally designating both the western Atlantic and eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean stocks of bluefin tuna as “species of concern” under the Endangered Species Act. This places the species on a watchlist for concerns about its status and threats to the species.

“NOAA is concerned about the status of bluefin tuna, including the potential effects of the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill on the western stock of Atlantic bluefin, which spawns in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “We will revisit the status of the species in early 2013 when we will have a new stock assessment and information from the Natural Resource Damage Assessment of the oil spill. We will also take action in the interim if new information indicates the need for greater protection.”

NOAA’s status review, released with today’s decision and peer-reviewed by The Center for Independent Experts, indicates that based on the best available information and assuming  countries comply with the bluefin tuna fishing quotas established by ICCAT, both the western and eastern Atlantic stocks are not likely to become extinct.

The status review team also looked at the best available information on the potential effects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill on the future abundance of the western stock of bluefin tuna and found that it did not substantially alter the results of the extinction risk analysis.  While the NOAA team found that the presently available information did not favor listing, it also recognized the need to continue to monitor the potential long-term effects of the spill on bluefin tuna and the overall ecosystem. New scientific information is expected in a 2012 bluefin tuna stock assessment and as part of the Natural Resources Damage Assessment of the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill.

“Based on careful scientific review, we have decided the best way to ensure the long-term sustainability of bluefin tuna is through international cooperation and strong domestic fishery management,” said Eric Schwaab, assistant NOAA administrator for NOAA’s Fisheries Service. “The United States will continue to be a leader in advocating science-based quotas at ICCAT, full compliance with these quotas and other management measures to ensure the long-term viability of this and other important fish stocks.”

NOAA conducted the status review of Atlantic bluefin after determining on Sept. 21, 2010, that a petition for listing under the ESA from a national environmental organization warranted a scientific status review.

To read the status review report on Atlantic bluefin tuna, the federal register notice and other information on bluefin tuna, please go to:

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Find us onFacebook.


May 28 2011

Fishery Landings by West Coast County, 2006-2010

Maps were created (view pdf) that present rankings by west coast counties according to the major “management groups” (grouping individual species codes) used in the PacFIN database in terms of ex-vessel revenue for the recent 5-year period, 2006-2010.

These management groups accord with the four Pacific Council fishery management plans (coastal pelagic species, groundfish, highly migratory species, and salmon) and four additional categories (crab, other, salmon, shellfish, and shrimp).

The data were obtained by a query grouping landings by county codes in the database. The PacFIN county codes were then matched to FIPS county codes for use in ArcGIS. (The PacFIN county table includes several codes that are not counties, e.g., “Columbia River below Bonneville Dam.”

In data preparation revenue for all these codes were grouped into a single record, which is not displayed in the figures or the table below.)

Counties were used as the geographic units for two reasons. First, counties are a useful geographic unit for producing choropleth maps. Second, grouping by county makes it easier to compare landings data to demographic data (available from the census or other sources) in future analyses.

Read the post at the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s site.

May 28 2011

Open Season on California Market Squid

By Danna Staaf

Last year, the market squid off California were so abundant that the fishery actuallyreached its quota for the first time in history. Normally, squid fishing season is April 1st to March 31st–yep, that’s all year. But when they hit the quota back in December 2010, the fishery closed.

However, when April 1st, 2011, rolled around and government officials opened the fishery again, no squid boats sallied out into Monterey Bay. According to the Monterey Weekly,

When the squid season began April 1, local fishermen held back in hopes of pressuring processors to bump the price of calamari from $500 to $600 per ton, according to David Haworth, vice president of the California Wetfish Producers Association.

Read the rest at Squid A Day.


May 27 2011

Fishermen end strike, net bountiful harvests of market squid

Local Flavor: About half of the dozen boats fishing squid in Monterey Bay this spring are residents of the Monterey and Moss Landing harbors, according to Monterey Harbormaster Steve Scheiblauer. Above, fresh catch at Monterey Fish Company.

Glowing boats bob in the night off Pacific Grove’s coast, their lights luring lusty Loligo opalescens from the depths.

The romantic sight marks the return of Monterey Bay’s 150-year-old market squid fishery after an unofficial fishermen’s strike threatened to delay this year’s harvest.

When the squid season began April 1, local fishermen held back in hopes of pressuring processors to bump the price of calamari from $500 to $600 per ton, according to David Haworth, vice president of the California Wetfish Producers Association.

Blame it on gas prices: Boat captains, who aren’t unionized, negotiated with the four local squid processors in hopes of recovering some of their increased fuel costs. But the processors, who ship squid to Europe and China, are feeling the squeeze too.

“Our costs are up because of ocean freight being higher,” says Sal Tringali of the Salinas-based Monterey Fish Company. “The fuel’s killing us.”

Fishermen and processors were still at an impasse in early May. But some of the captains couldn’t pass up a good squid year, even at $500 per ton. Once they’d broken the liquid picket line, Haworth says, the other boats resumed fishing too.

The catch has been good: Royal Seafood founder Joe Pennisi says his son, Gino, recently unloaded 200 tons in a single evening.

“When there’s quantity,” he says, “you don’t worry about the price so much.”

Read the rest in the Monterey County Weekly.


May 27 2011

Anybody With a Boat Want To Visit 130 West, 44 North?

By Danna Staaf

While last year’s market squid bounty continues into the 2011 fishing season, the market squid’s larger cousin is playing hard to get. The Humboldt or jumbo squid–you remember, our hungry friends that grow up to five feet long and eat everything they can wrap their arms around–makes a habit out of making headlines, whether it’s invading or invisible. This year, it’s the latter.

“Catches of jumbo squid in 2009-2010 seemed limitless,” reports Frank Hartzell of the Mendocino Beacon. But they’ve been conspicuously absent in 2011.

Read the rest here.

May 20 2011

Can squid ink pasta really stop cancer & tumor cells from growing?

Check out the various black foods at Sacramento’s Whole Foods Market. New studies reveal that foods containing black squid ink fight cancer and tumor cells by preventing the growth of new blood vessels which causes tumor and cancer cells to grow.

Sacramento’s new food trend is to eat black foods, especially squid ink pasta with black beans one day and black rice with blueberries the next. If you look at Sacramento’s various natural food markets, stores are carrying more black foods such as black rice (also known as ‘forbidden’ rice) and squid ink pasta. See, Squid Ink Pasta: Cooking Terms:

Read the rest of the post here.

May 17 2011

The Sardine’s Big Comeback

Why This Lowly Little Fish Should Be at the Top of Your Shopping List

Wild seafood is wrought with environmental, ethical, economic, and health implications. But the sardine poses a solution to each of these problems.

A seafood meal is the one opportunity most Americans will ever have to eat a wild animal. Given the illegality of selling wild game, only hunters and their lucky friends get to munch the many tasty beasts that roam the boondocks. Eating a wild thing is like walking around on your bare feet. It’s exposure to an ecosystem, and a direct connection with the planet. Eating wild fish is like a swim in the ocean, except in this case the ocean swims inside of you.

Unfortunately, wild seafood is wrought with environmental, ethical, economic, and health implications. Many fish stocks are dwindling. And prices, not surprisingly, are climbing. Certain fishing methods are damaging underwater ecosystems and creating bycatch, whereby the wrong fish are caught, and all too often killed. Big carnivorous fish like tuna and swordfish are known to accumulate dangerous levels of heavy metals from the many fish, great and small, in their diets.

Read the rest of the story here.


May 17 2011

Squid with roasted tomatoes and black olives

By Skye Gyngell

The combination of sweet tomatoes and salty black olives is a favourite of mine, and is a lovely match with squid.

20 small, ripe tomatoes

6 sprigs of oregano, leaves only

tbsp good-quality red-wine vinegar

A little olive oil for drizzling

800g/1 lb of the freshest squid

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

I handful of wild garlic, well rinsed

A handful of black olives, preferably niçoise,

Get the rest of the recipe here.