Archive for September, 2011

Sep 27 2011

Agencies prepare to carve up coastal waters

Unprecedented zoning process will be based on ecosystem approach


State officials decided last week that a hotly contested set of marine protected areas will take effect in the nearshore waters of Southern California on Jan. 1.

That planning process split the region into pro-fishing and no-fishing camps since it started in 2008, but it pales in comparison to the scope of a federal initiative that’s starting to take shape as a priority of the Obama administration.

The coastal and marine spatial planning process, launched by executive order in 2010, seeks to account for the full range of ocean uses, from wave energy and oil extraction to shipping and recreation. It’s supposed to span broad ecosystems instead of relying on the traditional sector-by-sector approach to regulating ocean activities.

The blueprint will extend the debate about marine uses from the three-mile limit of state waters to 200 miles from shore as part of an unprecedented national effort to balance a growing list of competing interests. It’s never been done on the national level in the United States, though a few states and other countries have created similar plans.

Think of them like ocean zoning maps covering nine regions of the country that say what activities are best suited for specific areas. If they work, they could give industries more confidence about investing in certain spots and conservationists clarity about which regions are designated for boosting marine life.

“It’s important to get ahead of the curve as demands for space in the ocean increase, but also to move deliberately to make sure all the relevant information is assembled and everyone is included,” said Karen Garrison, at the Natural Resources Defense Council in San Francisco. “This is about keeping the ocean healthy and making sure it continues producing the benefits we depend on into the future.”

Momentum for ocean-use maps has grown along with concern about the ability of the world’s seas to handle pressures for ocean-based food, energy and other necessities. The California Current Ecosystem, which runs along the West Coast of the continental U.S., is among the most highly productive saltwater areas on Earth. It’s also one of the most difficult to manage because tens of millions of residents live within 50 miles of the shore and use the ocean in countless ways.

Read the rest from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Sep 15 2011

South Coast ocean closures not approved by state’s law office

Written by Ed Zieralski

In what is a blow to environmental groups who seek fishing closures off the coast of California, the marine protected areas called for by theMarine Life Protection Act’s South Coast Region have been disapproved by the state’s Office of Administrative Law (OAL).

The third set of marine protected areas established by the MLPA process will be delayed by months or more, according to a high-ranking Department of Fish and Game official who requested anonymity. The OAL has ordered the Department of Fish and Game and the MLPA Initiative team to correct what it calls deficiencies in the MLPA’s final documents. The flaws must be fixed before the closures are approved, according to a document released Friday by the OAL.

The OAL listed several reasons it did not approve the closures. Included among them is the MLPA staff’s failure to provide reasons for rejecting alternative proposals for closures. Another reason listed is the MLPA’s Initiative team’s failure to adequately respond to all of the public comments regarding the proposed closures.

The ruling came 17 days before the entire process will be on trial in San Diego Superior Court. Bob Fletcher, a former state Fish and Game assistant director and one-time president of the Sportfishing Association of California, and the Partnership for Sustainable Oceans sued the MLPA Initiative team for what the suit calls a mishandling of the process. The trial is set for Sept. 26.

Read the rest on

Sep 12 2011

For Healthy, Sustainable Fish: Buy American

Frank Ragusa, left, distribution manager for Ocean Beauty Seafoods, and former Seattle Mariners MLB baseball player Jay Bunher, center, look on as Robert Spaulding, executive chef at Elliott's Oyster House, cuts a filet of Copper River Salmon from Alaska. (Credit: AP/Ted S. Warren

Fish on Fridays by Michael Conathan

Last night, President Barack Obama delivered an address to Congress laying out his plan for job creation in America. In the most recent version of this column, I did the same, at least for the fishing industry. Though admittedly my work lacked some of the pomp and circumstance of a joint address to Congress, it suggests one key to fishing jobs is greater investment in fisheries science, which would reduce the uncertainty forcing regulators to keep catch limits low, thereby allowing fishermen to catch more fish. That’s a classic supply-side solution. But there’s another side to that equation as well: greater demand.

American consumers are comfortable enough with the concept of supply and demand that Big Oil’s backers can use it as false logic to make a case for increased offshore oil and gas drilling. If we produce more oil, the argument goes, we will increase supply, and prices will come down. Never mind that oil is an internationally traded commodity, the price of which is heavily influenced by financial speculators and an international cartel over which American consumers have exactly zero influence. Also never mind that the nonpartisan Energy Information Association has declared unequivocally that increasing drilling will have no impact on gasoline prices.

Fair play in that it’s tough to know which is harder to understand: macroeconomics or ecosystem-based management and fisheries sustainability. Theories of how to get our country’s financial house in order and how to buy a guilt-free filet may occur on slightly different levels, but at their core, they are equally complex.

Fortunately, when it comes to fish, there’s a simple answer that will help spur the economy and lead to more sustainable dining. It’ll be better for your health, too. Put down your seafood wallet card for a minute and pay attention. Here it comes, in two words. Ready?


The simple fact is, despite the seemingly endless barrage of doom-and-gloom stories about the future of fisheries, the United States leads the world in ending overfishing and managing our resource sustainably. This year, a regulation took effect that will ensure every fish sold by a U.S. commercial fisherman is managed with scientifically justified catch limits. In layman’s terms, this means overfishing is now illegal.

Read the rest of the story here.

Sep 8 2011

NOAA Fisheries Releases 2010 Fisheries of the U.S. Report

Today, NOAA Fisheries released its Fisheries of the United States 2010 report.

Fisheries of the U.S. is an annual snapshot of the landings and value of U.S. fisheries. This year it contains some good news – landings were up and the value of those landings was up. U.S. commercial fishermen landed 8.2 billion pounds of seafood valued at $4.5 billion in 2010, an increase of 200 million pounds over 2009 and an increase in value of more than $600 million from 2009.

Today’s report also highlights the top U.S. ports including our leader for the 22nd consecutive year, the Alaska port of Dutch Harbor-Unalaska.  And, for the 11th consecutive year, New Bedford, Mass., had the highest valued catch, due in large part to the sea scallop fishery.

Another aspect of the report is seafood consumption. In 2010, the average American ate 15.8 pounds of fish and shellfish, a slight decline from the 2009 figure of 16 pounds.  On a global scale, the U.S. continues to be third-ranked for consuming fish and shellfish, behind China and Japan.  Imported seafood continues to increase to help fill consumer demand – about 86 percent of the seafood consumed in the U.S. was imported from overseas.

As Eric Schwaab, NOAA Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, said in our announcement today:

These increases in fish landings and value are good news for our nation’s fishermen and for fishing communities, where jobs depend on healthy fish stocks. We know fishermen are making sacrifices now to rebuild fish populations, and these efforts, combined with good science and management, support sustainable jobs for Americans.

Read the full report online.

Sep 7 2011

Six great Bay Area sardine dishes


Local marinated sardines with salsa verde and cherry tomato at Coco500 on Brannan Street in San Francisco (Credit: Brant Ward / The Chronicle)

Michael Bauer

A few years ago diners rarely saw sardines on a restaurant menu because of their assertive flavor and downscale reputation. However, with the increasing awareness of seafood seasonality and sustainability, this once-overlooked fish has moved into the spotlight.

It’s also been given a boost by the increasing popularity and diversity of cocktails. Sardines make a great snack with a stiff drink, which is why you’ll often find them on bar menus at upscale restaurants.

Many Bay Area chefs have found clever ways not only to showcase the fish but also to enhance its natural flavor. Here are six of the best.


Long before it was fashionable, Loretta Keller served sardines at her Bizou restaurant, which she subsequently turned into Coco500. Now she offers local marinated sardines accompanied by salsa verde.

500 Brannan St. (at Fourth Street), San Francisco; or Lunch Monday-Friday; dinner Monday-Saturday. Full bar. Reservations and credit cards accepted.


The tapas portion of the menu at this popular Castro Street Spanish restaurant includes wood-oven-roasted sardines on avocado toast with pickled onions and smoked salt. A perfect bite for a glass of wine, sherry or beer.

1320 Castro St. (at 24th Street), San Francisco; (415) 285-0250 or Dinner Tuesday-Sunday. Beer and wine. Reservations and credit cards accepted.

Read the rest of the story on the San Francisco Chronicle’s site.

Sep 7 2011

Barbecued squid salad with snake beans and grapefruit

Serves 4

By Bill Granger

While fish can fall apart and be tricky to cook on a grill, prawns, langoustines, squid and other seafood are made for it. The punchy dressing and citrus give this squid salad a real kick.

2 green chillies, finely chopped
1 tsp sea salt
4 coriander root, rinsed well and roughly chopped
1 garlic clove
3 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp caster sugar
3 tbsp lime juice
Large handful picked, fresh mint leaves
Large handful fresh coriander leaves
300g/10oz snake beans or green beans, cut into 5cm lengths
2 pink grapefruit, peeled, cut into segments, pith and membrane removed
800g/1¾lb squid tubes, cleaned, cut into approx 6cm x 3cm pieces and scored on the inside
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Read the full recipe here.

Sep 7 2011

Fishermen face the most dangerous work in US

Want to get into a safe — relatively speaking — line of work? Be a firefighter

By Jacquelyn Smith
updated 9/5/2011 6:24:30 PM ET
If your work day sometimes seems to consist of nothing but boring meetings, coffee spills, and computer glitches, consider yourself lucky.

Each year thousands of U.S. workers die from injuries on the job. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics‘ National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries shows a preliminary total of 4,547 fatal work injuries in 2010, down slightly from the final count of 4,551 in 2009.

The rate of fatal work injury for U.S. workers in 2010 was 3.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, the same as the final rate for 2009 — but that may change. Datareleased in the last two weeks offers a preliminary count. The final 2010 data will be released in the spring of 2012 and shouldn’t be much different. slideshow: America’s most dangerous jobs

The BLS breaks down the numbers to tell us what the most dangerous professions of all in America are. The top spot on the list goes to fishermen and fisherwomen, who lost their lives at a rate of 116 per 100,000 full-time workers. Fishing is a legendarily hazardous occupation, particularly Alaskan shellfishing, and fatalities have been high in recent years. High compensation helps offset the risks and seasonal fluctuations that come with the work.

Loggers and airplane pilots had the second and third deadliest jobs, respectively. Both are menaced by the threat of malfunctioning machinery and falling heavy objects. Fifty-nine loggers and 78 pilots and flight engineers were killed on the job in 2010.

Some occupations that seem dangerous, like firefighting and tractor operation, are actually relatively safe; both of those jobs, for example, are less dangerous than being a car mechanic. The safest jobs of all, with less than 1 death per 100,000 full-time workers, include secretaries, salespersons, and librarians.

Read the rest of the story on





Sep 2 2011

KGO-TV: FDA helps create DNA database for fish

How do you know the fish you buy is really what it’s supposed to be? The answer is often you don’t. So the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is trying to protect consumers using DNA identification. It’s a global project, and the Philippines is believed to have more types of fish than almost any place on Earth, so it’s a great place to collect specimens. ABC7 News was the only TV station to go there with American researchers working to keep our food safe.

Read the rest of the story here.