Archive for March, 2013

Mar 21 2013

Pacific species migrating through warmer Northwest Passage to the Atlantic

Seafood News




SEAFOOD.COM NEWS [National Post] By Tristin Hopper – March 20, 2013 –


Set loose by an ice-free Northwest Passage, an invasion force of Pacific sea creatures is moving east to Atlantic waters.


Researchers at the U.K.- based Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science have called the discovery of a microscopic west coast plant on the east coast a “harbinger of an inundation of the North Atlantic with foreign organisms.”


“The Arctic is getting easier to navigate … organisms that don’t even swim are getting through,” says Eric Solomon, director of conservation strategy at the Vancouver Aquarium.


This week, British researchers announced that the plant, extinct along the East Coast for more than 800,000 years, has begun to reappear there after migrating through the Arctic Ocean. It marks the first time an organism has completed a trans-Arctic crossing in modern times without a set of fins.


Last summer, European scientists were baffled when a grey whale appeared appeared off Israel – the first time a grey whale had been spotted in Mediterranean waters since it was hunted to extinction in the 1700s. At the time, researchers speculated that the Pacific Ocean whale had made its way east through the ice-free Northwest Passage and “was now wondering where the hell it is.”


Killer whales have been capitalizing on the melting Arctic since at least 2007. Faster and smarter than the North’s large, lumbering sea creatures, killer whales have been enjoying free reign over Arctic populations of narwhals, belugas and seals. Packs of killer whales have also been seen taking down bowhead whales twice their size. Wary of the ferocious newcomers, bowhead whales, narwhal and beluga have all been spotted staying near shore and swimming in unnaturally tight formations.


The Humboldt squid, a creature once seen only off the South American coast, has gradually worked its way north into ice-filled waters off Alaska. Soon, researchers suspect, the 45 kilogram squid could begin charting its own cross-Arctic trip.


“It used to be that the primary consideration for staying alive in the Arctic was being able to breathe through a hole in the ice, and that’s not going to be true anymore,” says Ron O’Dor, global scientific director with the Halifaxbased Ocean Tracking Network.


The Ocean Tracking Network, headquartered at Dalhousie University, is deploying millions of dollars of equipment to the High Arctic to track the west-east migrations. “There’s going to be some reshuffling of the ecosystems,” says Mr. O’Dor. “Whether that’s good for humans or bad for humans is yet to be determined.”


The invasion is already bad news for Newfoundland’s Atlantic cod. They are “facing a potentially mutating ecosystem with the arrival of these different species,” says Julian Dodson, a marine biologist at the University of Laval. He notes Arctic char are already facing tough competition for food by schools of east-moving capelin, a small forage fish.


As Arctic shipping traffic ramps up, the migration of sea life will only increase as crustaceans and plankton hitch rides east on Europe-bound freighters. Following the construction of the Suez Canal, says Mr. D’Or, the Mediterranean Sea became overcome with invasive species swimming over from the Red Sea. “The Arctic is going to turn into a giant Suez Canal,” he says. Species used to move freely between the Atlantic and Pacific, but they were isolated by the introduction of polar ice. Pacific and Atlantic counterparts are now poised for their first meeting in several million years. Pacific salmon have begun cropping up off the Arctic coast of Alaska, and Atlantic salmon are appearing near Iqaluit. It is “inevitable” the two species will eventually collide, says Mr. O’Dor.


Coincidentally, many of these east-west encounters will occur in the waters surrounding Newfoundland and Labrador. One thousand years ago, the area hosted a different kind of east-west reunion when European explorers first encountered North American aboriginals in L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland.


Ken Coons News 1-781-861-1441

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Copyright © 2013

Source: News

Mar 21 2013

Pacific coast forage fish protection strongest in the world (Opinion)


Seafood News





SEAFOOD.COM NEWS [] By D.B. Pleschner – March 20, 2013 – (Opinion)

(D.B. Pleschner is Executive Director of the California Wetfish Producers Association, a nonprofit designed to

promote sustainable wetfish resources.)


Recent stories, in newspapers, and reported on Seafood News, (Pacific Fishery Management Council proposes comprehensive ecosystem plan Feb 20th) unfortunately may have left some readers with the wrong impression regarding the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s upcoming decision – on April 9 – to adopt the Pacific Coast Fishery Ecosystem Plan (FEP).


These stories have implied rampant overfishing of forage species – like sardines – that the FEP supposedly will address by reducing catch limits on these fish in order to maintain a food source for bigger species like salmon and albacore.


However, this simply isn’t true.


The Council authorized development of the FEP to “enhance the Council’s species-specific management programs with more ecosystem science, broader ecosystem considerations and management policies that coordinate Council management across its Fishery Management Plans (FMPs) and the California Current Ecosystem (CCE).”


The FEP’s first initiative proposes to protect unmanaged lower trophic level forage species such as Pacific sandlance and saury, which are currently not fished, by “prohibiting the development of new directed fisheries on forage species that are not currently managed by the Council, or the States, until the Council has had an adequate opportunity to assess the science relating to any proposed fishery and any potential impacts to our existing fisheries and communities.”


In contrast, anchovy, sardines and market squid, officially known as coastal pelagic species (CPS), are already well managed under both federal and state fishery management plans, which prescribe precautionary harvest limits. Consider the visionary management of Pacific sardines, the poster fish for ecosystem-based management. A riskaverse formula is in place that ensures when population numbers go down, the harvest also goes down. Conversely, when more sardines are available, more harvest is allowed, but the maximum cap is set far below the

maximum sustainable harvest level.


In 2011, the U.S. West Coast sardine fisheries harvested only 5.11 percent of a very conservative stock estimate, leaving nearly 95 percent of the species for predators and ecosystem needs. Does that sound like overfishing to you? Of course not, and scientists agree.

A 2012 study by a panel of 13 scientists from around the world – known as the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force – concluded that while overfishing of forage species is problematic on a global scale, the West Coast is not being overfished.


Indeed they noted that the Pacific Coast is, “ahead of other parts of the world in how it manages some forage fish.” The region has “stricter monitoring and more conservative limits that could serve as a buffer against future crashes.”


Knowledgeable people know that this is no accident. Fishing families have historically worked with regulators to protect our wetfish fisheries. In fact, more than a decade ago, the Pacific Fishery Management Council adopted a management strategy for CPS harvested in California and on the West Coast, maintaining at least 75 percent of the fish in the ocean to ensure a

resilient core biomass. The sardine protection rate is even higher.


California also implemented a network of no-take marine reserves throughout our state’s waters. Reserves established at specific bird rookery and marine mammal haul-out sites – for example near the Farallon Islands, Año Nuevo, and Southern California’s Channel Islands – were enacted to protect forage fish. More than 30 percent of traditional squid harvest grounds are now closed in reserve.


Hopefully these facts will prevail and dispel the hype. California has been recognized by internationally respected scientists as having one of the lowest fishery harvest rates in the world. It’s one of only a few areas deemed ‘sustainable’. (Rebuilding Global Fisheries, Science 2009).


Ken Coons News 1-781-861-1441

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Copyright © 2013

Source: News

Mar 14 2013

Catch shares leave fishermen reeling


SAN FRANCISCO – For centuries, men like Larry Collins, a garrulous crab and sole fisherman, were free to harvest the seas.

But sweeping across the globe is a system that slowly and steadily hands over a $400 billion ocean fishing industry to corporations. The system, called catch shares, in most cases favors large fishing fleets, a review of the systems operating across the United States shows.

“We’ve been frozen out,” said Collins, who docks near the Golden Gate Bridge. “This system has given it all to the big guys.”

More and more wild-caught fish species and fishing territories in the United States are managed under catch shares, which work by providing harvesting or access rights to fishermen. These rights – worth tens of billions of dollars in the United States alone – are translated into a percentage, or share, that can then be divided, traded, sold, bought or leveraged for financing, just like any asset.

Catch shares have been backed by an alliance of conservative, free-market advocates and environmental groups, some of which have financed scientific studies promoting the merits of the system, the Center for Investigative Reporting has found.

Read the full story here.



Mar 8 2013

Study Finds Climate Change To Open Arctic Sea Routes By 2050


Climate change will make commercial shipping possible from North America to Russia or Asia over the North Pole by the middle of the century, a new study says.

Two researchers at the University of California ran seven different climate models simulating two classes of vessels to see if they could make a relatively ice-free passage through the Arctic Ocean. In each case, the sea routes are sufficiently clear after 2049, they say.

The study, published Monday in the journal PNAS by Laurence C. Smith and Scott R. Stephenson, found that the sea ice will become thin enough that a “corridor directly over the north pole” will open up. “The shortest great circle route thus becomes feasible, for ships with moderate ice-breaking capability.”

Read the full story here


For information about Chasing Ice 



Mar 8 2013

Wild Fisheries Are Sustainable by Law

If your seafood is coming from a United States fishery, it is, by law, coming from a sustainable fishery.

Wild fisheries in U.S. territorial waters are governed by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. This act contains strict requirements for conservation and sustainability that essentially mandate no fish stock be subjected to overfishing. The overfishing limit is strictly defined. It is not only precautionary, but is a level that allows fish stocks to rebuild to the maximum sustainable yield level over time.

In 1996, federal lawmakers adopted the Sustainable Fisheries Act as a substantial amendment to Magnuson-Stevens. It is perhaps the most aggressive conservation law currently in place in the world. Essentially, it requires that all fish stocks be evaluated for their status relative to what is believed to be their fully rebuilt potential. If a stock is believed to be below 50 percent of the rebuilt goal, fishery managers are required to initiate a rebuilding plan that reduces fish mortality to a level that will allow the stock to be fully rebuilt in 10 years or less.

The read the full New York Times article here

Mar 2 2013

Oceana Overstates Mislabeled Fish Problem


By now, we all know that the fish we buy has about a one in three chance of being something other than what’s on the label.

Just how much should we care?

We can all agree that, in a perfect world, fish would be labeled accurately, but Oceana, an advocacy organization devoted to “protecting the world’s oceans,” and the latest to test fish samples, would have us believe the mislabeling problem is dire, dire, dire:

“As our results demonstrate, a high level of mislabeling nationwide indicates that seafood fraud harms not only the consumer’s pocket book, but also every honest vendor or fisherman along the supply chain. These fraudulent practices also carry potentially serious concerns for the health of consumers, and for the health of our oceans and vulnerable fish populations.”

But dig into the report, and it’s hard to find evidence for most of those claims.

Read the complete story from Huffington Post here.



Mar 1 2013

Does catch reflect abundance?

Researchers are divided over the wisdom of using estimates of the amount of
fish hauled in each year to assess the health of fisheries.

Read the full story here.