Archive for September, 2014

Sep 27 2014

A bigger chance of El Niño returning in 2014, but with little rain


An image from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory shows a pair of warmer Kelvin waves heading towards the South American coast. NASA/JPL


El Niño can’t seem to make up its mind. After climatologists had previously stated that the chances of the warming weather phenomenon occurring this winter were becoming ever slimmer, it seems that there may now be a “glimmer of hope for a very modest comeback,” according to a press release from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Ocean temperatures in equatorial Pacific had been rising earlier this year — indicating El Niño conditions. But they fell over the summer — dashing hopes for much needed rain.

Satellite images now show that warmer eastward “Kelvin waves” are headed towards the South American coast in the next two months, indicating a resurgent El Niño weather pattern. However, if El Niño triggers a wetter winter, it probably won’t mean drought-busting rain.

“If I was to compare where we are at with El Niño with where we were in ‘97-‘98, which was the Godzilla El Niño, I would call this one the gecko El Niño,” JPL climatologist Bill Patzert tells KPCC. He says El Niños can be small and modest and have little to no impact whatsoever on our rainfall.

NASA scientists will continue to monitor the Pacific for any changes.

Watch NASA video of El Niño forming earlier this year.

View original post:

Sep 19 2014

California Seafood labeling Bill could mean mass consumer confusion, say retailers and NFI

Reposted by permission: © SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Wall St. Journal ] By BEN DIPIETRO | Sept. 19, 2014



A coalition of grocers and retailers and the seafood industry’s main trade association say a proposed law in California that would change the names under which seafood is sold in an effort to combat fraud is misguided and won’t achieve its objective.

The bill, which was approved by the California State Legislature and only needs the signature of Gov. Jerry Brown to become law, would mandate all seafood sold in the state be listed by its common name as well as its market name. Seafood in the state currently is sold using its market name.

Some examples of how the bill would affect labeling include herring being listed as Ilisha, Chilean seabass being listed as Patagonian toothfish and shrimp having to be called by names such as roshna prawn, jack knife prawn or caramote prawn.

Supporters of the measure, including the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the environmental activist group Oceana, say the change will address the problem of seafood mislabeling, which has been found to be widespread throughout the country. Oceana has conducted DNA tests on seafood purchased around the country between 2010 and 2012, and found 33% of its samples were mislabeled, with the number rising to 38% from stores and restaurants in Northern California and 52% in Southern California.

The bill also would provide more detailed information to consumers who need to know the specific species to avoid allergies or to avoid fish with excessive levels of mercury, or because they want to avoid fish from areas they consider overfished or environmentally vulnerable, said Ashley Blacow, Pacific policy and communications manager at Oceana.

“The market name refers to many species and actually obscures the identity of seafood, ” Ms. Blacow said. “But if provided the common name, consumers are able to make more informed purchasing decisions for their personal health…It means some allergen-sensitive consumers could enjoy some species of seafood while avoiding other species that could cause them problems. ”

As long as the common name is used, nothing in the bill prevents seafood sellers from using the market name to help people who are familiar with those terms, Ms. Blacow said. “Some people are more familiar with the market name but there are consumers who are trying to make very conscientious decisions for their own health or ocean sustainability reasons, so it’s critical those consumers who are looking for that information can find it. ”

Opponents say the measure will only cause confusion as it will put California at odds with the laws of the federal government and the other 49 states. As an example, mahi mahi would also have to be labeled as dolphinfish, its common name. “Our customers, who know and are accustomed to seeing ‘mahi mahi’ would think that they are buying dolphin meat, which will most certainly result in confusion, ” said a letter sent to the governor by the California Grocers Association, California Retailers Association, National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association.

The retailers say federal law already prohibits mislabeling of seafood, and mandates seafood labels be accurate and truthful. They say the U. S. Food and Drug Administration has created the Seafood List, which says the industry can call a fish by its market name or its common name. The law would also create additional regulatory burdens and likely lead to an increase in the price of seafood, they said.

The retailer groups say they supported a labeling bill in Washington state signed into law in May 2013 that said the common name could be either the acceptable market name or common name as provided in the FDA’s Seafood List. They say they must oppose the California measure because it “runs afoul of this state and industry supported approach. ”

The main U. S. seafood industry trade association, the National Fisheries Institute, said if approved the bill will add nearly 1,850 new common names to the vernacular and to menus. “Is California cracking down on seafood fraud or muddying the water further? We would support efforts to ensure stronger enforcement but this bill does no such thing, ” an NFI spokesman said in an email.

Gov. Brown hasn’t given any indication of whether he will sign the bill, Ms. Blacow said.


Photo Credit: Lobster Place

John Sackton, Editor And Publisher 1-781-861-1441
Email comments to

Copyright © 2014

Sep 17 2014

Bluefin Tuna Are Showing Up in the Arctic—and That’s Not Good News

When you throw a net into the ocean, you never know what you’ll pull out.

That was the case for researchers cruising the freezing Arctic waters off Greenland in August 2012 in search of mackerel to see if there were enough of the fish to support a commercial fishery. In one haul, three endangered bluefin tuna, each weighing roughly 220 pounds, were pulled onto the ship’s deck amid six metric tons of mackerel.

“It was a bit surprising,” said Brian MacKenzie, a marine ecologist at the National Institute for Aquatic Resources at the Technical University of Denmark. The research ship was sailing in the Denmark Strait, between Greenland and Iceland, where water temperatures have historically been too cold for bluefin tuna.

More bluefin tuna have been caught off eastern Greenland since then. From June to the end of August of this year, Greenland fishing vessels caught 21 tuna—in addition to 65,000 metric tons of mackerel, according to Greenland Today.

The ever warmer Arctic waters could have profound impacts on how fisheries and food webs are managed and conserved in the future as tropical and Mediterranean species migrate into what were once colder waters.

With Arctic waters warming and attracting bluefin tuna, Iceland and Norway in 2014 implemented commercial quotas for the prized fish. “It’s small, only 30 [metric] tons each,” said MacKenzie. “But it indicates that the distribution is really changing.”

“Climate change is really challenging political and diplomatic relationships,” said Nick Dulvy, a professor of marine biodiversity and conservation at Simon Fraser University, in Burnaby, British Columbia. “Species names will change, and if your quotas are tied to a species name, that’s a problem for the fishery,”

In 2009, after mackerel had spread to the coastlines of Iceland and the Faroe Islands, Iceland set itself a mackerel quota of 112,000 metric tons. That angered the European Union, and conservationists worried that stocks of the humble fish would suffer.

MacKenzie and his colleagues analyzed the water temperatures east of Greenland using satellite imagery, oceanographic buoys, and measurements from ships. They found warm water had spread from the southeast Atlantic toward eastern Greenland. August temperatures in 2010 and 2012 were warmer than any other time since 1870. They recently published their findings in the journal Global Change Biology.

In fact, between 1985 and 1994 and 2007 and 2012, waters with temperatures greater than 11 degrees Celsius in the Denmark Strait and Irminger Sea has increased by 278,000 square miles—an area larger than Texas. “It’s only in the past two to three years that we can see that the temperatures of the waters east of Greenland have gotten above 10 degrees Celsius in the summer time,” MacKenzie said.

Not only can bluefin tuna tolerate warming Arctic waters more easily, their prey can too.

Mackerel have been increasing their reach since the mid-2000s, according to MacKenzie, moving from the European continental shelf out toward the Faroe Islands and on to Iceland.

The oily fish is a preferred sustenance for tuna, which usually only search for prey in waters where the minimum surface temperature is above 11 degrees Celsius, said MacKenzie. That the tuna were brought in with a load of mackerel in 2012 suggests there was a school of tuna hunting the smaller fish, he said.

Finding bluefin tuna off Greenland is more evidence that climate change is shuffling the species swimming about the world’s oceans. Fish generally found in warmer waters are being spotted in regions formerly filled by cold-tolerant species, or are expanding their range. Mackerel have moved into the waters south of Iceland, and anchovy now swim the North Sea.

“Around Denmark, we’re seeing species that 15 to 20 years ago would have been extremely rare, such as anchovy and red mullet,” said MacKenzie.

Read original post here.

Sep 15 2014

Unusual North Pacific warmth jostles marine food chain

September 2014 | Contributed by Michael Milstein


Scientists across NOAA Fisheries are watching a persistent expanse of exceptionally warm water spanning the Gulf of Alaska that could send reverberations through the marine food web. The warm expanse appeared about a year ago and the longer it lingers, the greater potential it has to affect ocean life from jellyfish to salmon, researchers say.

“Right now it’s super warm all the way across the Pacific to Japan,” said Bill Peterson, an oceanographer with NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Newport, Ore., who has linked certain ocean indicators to salmon returns. “For a scientist it’s a very interesting time because when you see something like this that’s totally new you have opportunities to learn things you were never expecting.”

Not since records began has the region of the North Pacific Ocean been so warm for so long. The warm expanse has been characterized by sea surface temperatures as much as three degrees C (about 5.4 degrees F) higher than average, lasting for months, and appears on large- scale temperature maps as a red-orange mass of warm water many hundreds of miles across. Nick Bond of the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean at the University of Washington earlier this summer nicknamed it “the blob.”

Indeed, there are three warm zones, said Nate Mantua, leader of the landscape ecology team at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center: The big blob dominating the Gulf of Alaska, a more recent expanse of exceptionally warm water in the Bering Sea and one that emerged off Southern California earlier this year. One exception to the warmth is a narrow strip of cold water along the Pacific Northwest Coast fed by upwelling from the deep ocean.

The situation does not match recognized patterns in ocean conditions such as El Niño Southern Oscillation or Pacific Decadal Oscillation, which are known to affect marine food webs. “It’s a strange and mixed bag out there,” Mantua said.

One possibility is that the PDO, a long-lived El Niño-like pattern, is shifting from an extended cold period dating to the late 1990s to a warm phase, said Toby Garfield, director of the Environmental Research Division at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center. Mantua said the PDO may have tipped into a warm state as early as January of this year.

But both scientists noted that the observed warm temperatures are higher and cover more of the northern Pacific than the PDO typically affects. For all but the Gulf of Alaska, the warm waters appear to lie in a relatively shallow layer near the surface. The cold near-shore conditions in the Pacific Northwest also don’t match the typical PDO pattern.

Warm ocean temperatures favor some species but not others. For instance, sardines and albacore tuna often thrive in warmer conditions. Pacific Coast salmon and steelhead rely on cold-water nutrients, which they may have found recently in the narrow margin of cold water along the Northwest coast. But if the warmth continues or expands Pacific Northwest salmon and steelhead could suffer in coming years.

“If the warming persists for the whole summer and fall, some of the critters that do well in a colder, more productive ocean could suffer reduced growth, poor reproductive success and population declines,” Mantua said. “This has happened to marine mammals, sea birds and Pacific salmon in the past. At the same time, species that do well in warmer conditions may experience increased growth, survival and abundance.”

Peterson recently advised the Northwest Power and Conservation Council that juvenile salmon and steelhead migrating from the Columbia River to the ocean this year and next may experience poor survival.

“The signs for salmon aren’t good based on our experience in the past,” Peterson said, “but we won’t really see the signal from this until those fish return in a few years.” The warm expanse in the Gulf of Alaska is a kind of climatic “hangover” from the same persistent atmospheric ridge of high pressure believed to have contributed to California’s extreme drought, Bond and Mantua said. The ridge suppressed storms and winds that commonly stir and cool the sea surface.

Other factors created the patch of warm water hugging the Central California Coast south to Baja California. A low-pressure trough between California and Hawaii weakened the winds that typically drive upwelling of deep, cold water along the California Coast. Without those winds waters off Southern California’s beaches have stayed unusually warm.

NOAA surveys off California in July found jellyfish called “sea nettles” and ocean sunfish, which the warmer waters likely carried closer to shore, Mantua said. Anglers have reported excellent fishing for warm water species including yellowfin tuna, yellowtail and dorado, also known as mahi-mahi.

Research surveys in the Gulf of Alaska this summer came across species such as pomfret, ocean sunfish, blue shark and thresher shark often associated with warmer water, said Joe Orsi of the Alaska Fisheries Science Center Auke Bay Laboratories in Juneau. He said temperatures in the upper 20 meters of water up to 65 kilometers offshore were 0.8 degrees C (about 1.4 degrees F) above normal in both June and July.

The potential arrival of El Niño later this year would likely reinforce the warming and its effects on marine ecosystems, Bond said. NOAA’s National Weather Service estimates a 65 percent chance El Niño will emerge in fall or early winter.

Mantua noted that fall in California generally brings even weaker winds and weaker upwelling, making it likely that the warm waters off Central California will persist and even expand northward regardless of a tropical El Niño.

mapUnusually warm temperatures dominate three areas of the North Pacific: the Bering Sea, Gulf of Alaska and an area off Southern California. The darker the red, the further above average the sea surface temperature. NOAA researchers are tracking the temperatures and their implications for marine life.

MolaNOAA research surveys in the Gulf of Alaska this summer turned up ocean sunfish, also known as mola, which are often associated with warmer waters.

ThresherSharkThresher sharks were among the species associated with warmer waters that turned up in research surveys in the Gulf of Alaska this summer.

Read original post here.

Sep 13 2014

Squid fishing debuts on North Coast

timesstandardlogoPosted:  09/11/2014 11:21 PM

Squid fishing boats docked in Eureka for the first time Thursday, unloading 124,000 pounds of squid at the Fisherman’s Terminal.

Commercial squid fishermen from Southern California were drawn to the North Coast by following squid that were driven out of their typical habitat by a rise in ocean water temperatures, said Jeff Huffman, Eureka dock manager with Wild Planet, who helped to facilitate the docking and unloading of the squid boats.

With few squid left in their typical fishing zones this year, Southern California Sea Food, Inc., has been moving up the coast. On Wednesday, two boats fished in the area between the mouth of the Mad River and the False Cape, south of the Eel River, bringing the first boat into the dock at 2 a.m. Thursday and the second at 7:30 a.m., Huffman said.

“The squid fishery has always been a Southern California fishery, but because of the  warm water down south the squid are all up here,” he said. “There have always been some squid here, but not in these numbers.”

Unusual patterns in the Pacific Ocean have shifted water temperatures, creating unusually warm water both to the north and south of California’s North Coast, said Eric Bjorkstedt, research fishery biologist with NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center and an adjunct professor in Humboldt State University’s fisheries biology department.

The temperatures have not grown warmer off the Northern California coast, which appears on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration maps that track water temperatures as one of the only places along the West Coast that does not appear dark red — the color that indicates warming waters.

While this is not a typical El Nino year, Bjorkstedt said some patterns are consistent with the weather phenomena’s conditions.

“Normally in an El Nino, market squid do very badly — usually the catches go nearly to zero,” he said. “The reproductive success is not high, and the squid industry basically crashes for that year.”

Squid populations could be shifting north because of a change in water temperatures or shifting closer to shore because they are following a shift in nutrients and food supply, said Jeffrey Abell, chairman of HSU’s oceanography department.

Shifts in weather patterns and climate causes water temperatures and ocean nutrients patterns to change, he said.

“It manifests the shifts in ocean circulation, which alters the input of nutrients into the ecosystem, and then the organism responds to that and moves into a range where it is not usually found,” Abell said.

Either way, there is an unprecedented number of squid off the North Coast, Huffman said.

Southern California Sea Food, Inc., hopes to bring in 300 tons of squid every 24 hours, and the squid is then transported in trucks to Monterey, where it is processed at a company plant, he said.

Huffman added the company is limited by the number of squid that they can process, unload and truck, but not by the amount of squid in the bay.

“I think they can definitely catch more than we can actually get through the place and shipped out,” he said.

By Sunday the company will have five boats in the area, and they are hoping to continuing fishing here for two to three weeks, Huffman said.

Having the fishermen in town will be a boost for the local economy, he said, as the crew of more than a dozen people stays in local hotels, eats, shops, buys fuel and pays for moorings at the marina.

“This is a great plus to the whole waterfront and the town,” Huffman said.

The goal of the Fisherman’s Terminal was to bring in this type of business, he said. The dock is typically used for processing crab, salmon and some other fish, but being able to unload squid there adds another avenue for profit.

“It is a unique opportunity for the city to use its loading dock. Normally this isn’t something that we get to do,” said Eureka Councilwoman Marian Brady.

“It is all money that is coming back into our economy,” she said. “We definitely need industry, and this is a form of commerce that uses our bay for its purpose. We built all this infrastructure, and it hasn’t been used optimally.”

The city is working on plans to get a cold storage facility in town to keep even more of the business local, she said. All the squid is currently being taken out of town to be processed.

“But these three to five ships that are in here, that is adding a spurt to our economy,” she said.

This is a positive development for the economy and the city, said Ken Bates of the Humboldt Fishermen’s Marketing Association.

“This activity at Fisherman’s Terminal is exactly the kind of thing we were hoping to see in Eureka when this facility was built,” he said. “It’s exciting.”


Read original post here.

Sep 13 2014

Eating fish could lower your risk of hearing loss: study


All it takes is two or more servings per week, and it doesn’t matter what kind you consume. The omega-3 fats in fish help preserve hearing, it seems.

AFP RELAXNEWS | Thursday, September 11, 2014, 12:46 PM
ElenaGaak / According to recent research, two or more servings of fish per week could reduce women’s chances of hearing loss by as much as 20%.

According to researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, two or more servings of fish per week could lower women’s risk of acquired hearing loss.

“Consumption of any type of fish (tuna, dark fish, light fish, or shellfish) tended to be associated with lower risk,” says corresponding author Dr. Sharon G. Curhan, MD, of BWH Channing Division of Network Medicine. “These findings suggest that diet may be important in the prevention of acquired hearing loss.”

In the massive cohort study, researchers tracked a total 65,215 women from 1991 to 2009.

Overall, participants self-reported 11,606 cases of incident hearing loss, and data analysis indicates that the women who consumed fish at least twice per week showed a 20% lower risk of hearing loss than the women who seldom ate fish.

Case-by-case observation revealed that higher consumption of each of the aforementioned fish types and increased intake of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in the women’s diets showed benefits for hearing preservation.

“Acquired hearing loss is a highly prevalent and often disabling chronic health condition,” says Dr. Curhan. “Although a decline in hearing is often considered an inevitable aspect of aging, the identification of several potentially modifiable risk factors has provided new insight into possibilities for prevention or delay of acquired hearing loss.”

The study was published in the journal American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.


Read the original post here.

Sep 9 2014

UN warns on ocean acidification as GHG levels soar

Carbon dioxide emissions in 2013 were largest on record since 1984, says World Meteorological Organization 

Shellfish are vulnerable to acidification, as acid in waters prevents species developing calcium shells  (Pic: NOAA)

Shellfish are vulnerable to acidification, as acid in waters prevents species developing calcium shells (Pic: NOAA)

By Ed King

Current levels of ocean acidification are “unprecedented” and directly linked to rising emissions of carbon dioxide, according to the UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO). 

In a greenhouse gas analysis of 2013, released on Tuesday, it said concentrations of CO2 in the air had risen more than any other year since 1984. Methane and nitrous oxide levels also rose.

Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are now 142% higher than 1750, before the industrial revolution.

And the WMO said data showed the warming effect on the world’s climate due to greenhouse gases, known as radiative forcing, had risen 34% between 1990 and 2013.

“Carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for many hundreds of years and in the ocean for even longer,” said WMO secretary general Michel Jarraud.

“Past, present and future CO2 emissions will have a cumulative impact on both global warming and ocean acidification. The laws of physics are non-negotiable.”

Jarraud added the latest data should be used as a “scientific base for decision-making”.

World leaders are primed to meet in New York in two weeks for a UN summit to discuss options to reduce emissions of climate warming gases.

This report is the latest evidence of the levels of atmospheric gases burning fossil fuels has released.

A leaked draft of the UN’s IPCC climate science panel syntheses report, due out in November, stressed that “human influence on the climate system is clear”.

Earlier this year the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii recorded for the first time in recorded history that concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere had passed 400 parts per million (ppm).

Report: Alaska fisheries hit by rising acidifiction levels

Equally concerning, WMO scientists said the ability of the biosphere to absorb rising carbon levels had diminished, leaving the oceans to compensate.

“The ocean cushions the increase in CO2 that would otherwise occur in the atmosphere, but with far-reaching impacts,” it said in a press release.

“The current rate of ocean acidification appears unprecedented at least over the last 300 million years, according to an analysis in the report.”

Caused when the oceans suck in CO2, acidification is likely to lead to the decline of corals, algae, molluscs and some plankton, say scientists.

The ocean currently absorbs around a fourth of manmade CO2 emissions. The WMO said if emissions continue to rise, acidification is likely to accelerate until the 2050s.

Earlier this year the IPCC said ocean warming and acidification linked to rising CO2 levels would undermine food production and threaten the world’s poorest people.

Wendy Watson-Wright, executive secretary of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO welcomed the WMO’s focus on oceans in its report.

“The inclusion of a section on ocean acidification in this issue of WMO’s greenhouse gas bulletin is appropriate and needed,” she said.

“It is high time the ocean, as the primary driver of the planet’s climate and attenuator of climate change, becomes a central part of climate change discussions.”

Read the original post at

Sep 9 2014

How Fishing Makes You A Better Person (According To Science)


Fishing is one of the most accessible outdoor sports. Nearly anyone, no matter age, income level or even fitness ability, can easily participate. And the sport is no longer the boys’ club it was once thought of either. Of the 46 million Americans who fish today, over one third of them are women, according to a new report released by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation and the Outdoor Foundation. There’s also growing age and ethnic diversity within the sport.

Whether they grew up heading out onto the lake every Sunday with Grandpa or are one of the millions trying the sport for the first time every year, those who fish have a direct connection to health and well-being. Here’s how fishing can help you lead a happier, healthier life.

Fishing can keep you physically fit.
While fishing itself isn’t necessarily going to get your heart rate up, many of the best fishing spots require a bit of paddling, biking or hiking to reach, all of which have proven cardiovascular benefits. “You can make your fishing excursion as physical as you want,” Janna Superstein, president of fly fishing company Superfly International Inc., tells The Huffington Post. She stresses, however, that you don’t need to be incredibly active to participate. “Even just getting out there, you’ll still get the benefits of the outdoors and maybe that’s the beginning of a new fit, healthy lifestyle,” she says.

Of course, just spending time outside is good for your body and your brain. The outdoors gives us plenty of vitamin D (but don’t forget the SPF!), makes us happier and helps us age gracefully.

Fly fishing — a specific type of fishing that incorporates artificial “flies” and a weighted line — may also help women with breast cancer recover. Groups like Casting for Recovery combine breast cancer education with the sport as a form of support, therapy and exercise. Casting for Recovery’s site says that the gentle motion of fly casting resembles exercises often prescribed after surgery or radiation to promote soft tissue stretching. The group is designed for women of all ages in all stages of treatment and recovery.

Fish are an excellent source of nutrition.
fish dish
While not all who fish keep what they catch, those who do may be in for some bonus benefits. Fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which may decrease blood pressure and lower the risk of stroke and heart failure. They could also reduce irregular heartbeats and improve brain function in children, according to the Mayo Clinic.

In addition to heart and brain health, research shows that eating fish can save your eyesight, decrease the risk of asthma, protect your skin from UV-rays and cut your chances of developing rheumatoid arthritis in half. Some research suggests that eating a fish-heavy diet could even help reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Eating fish could help you live longer.
All of that healthy eating pays off. Some credit the long lifespan of the Japanese to a fish- and veggie-heavy diet. Japanese women have the longest life expectancy in the world, at 87 years, according to the World Health Organization. And while men in Japan aren’t quite as lucky, they do live to an average age of 80.

Fishing may reduce stress.
fishing pole
Many fishermen (and women!) would agree that the gentle lapping of waves and tug on a fishing line is enough to push any stress far from the mind. “Just doing the activity relieves pressure and creates sense of excitement,” Frank Peterson, president and CEO of the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, tells The Huffington Post.

Of the nine percent of Americans currently considering taking up the sport, 38 percent of them are interested in it as a means of relieving stress, according to the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation and the Outdoor Foundation report. In a country where 80 percent of us report feeling even more stressed or equally stressed each year and only 37 percent of us actually think we’re doing a good job at managing it, finding a way to relax is vital to our mental and physical health.

For many, a day of casting line is the answer because research shows that focusing on any one activity at hand can be a fast track to stress reduction. “When you’re fishing, you have to be mindful,” Superstein says. “You have to be present in order to observe what’s happening with the fish and catch them.”

The sport may decrease symptoms of PTSD.
The combination of mental relaxation and an easy form of exercise could also help those who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. A 2009 study shows that fishing can lower PTSD symptoms and increase the mood of those who suffer from the disorder. After three days of fly fishing, participants reported a 32 percent reduction in guilt and a 43 percent decrease in feelings of hostility. The feeling of fear was also reduced by 30 percent, and sadness dropped by 36 percent. A portion of these positive effects remained even a full month after the fishing retreat.

Plus, it helps you unplug.
pool of fish
Some of the mental benefits of fishing may be thanks to the opportunity it offers for us to unplug from our digital lives and enjoy nature. Sure, many love to snap shots of their big catches for various forms of social media or to print off and frame the old-fashioned way — “Before there were selfies, there were ‘fishies’,” says Peterson. And 50 percent of us use technology — whether for music, pictures or GPS — when participating in outdoor activities, according to the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation and the Outdoor Foundation. But overall, fishing offers a way to cut back on screen time. “It gives us a chance to unplug from daily lives and plug into something completely natural,” Superstein says. “We can then recharge our batteries in a natural way.”

Interested in taking up the sport yourself? So you’re ready to feast on a fresh catch. Luckily, it’s easier to start fishing than you may think. We talked to an expert to find the best tips for beginner fly fishers:

  • First, get rid of the misconceptions. Contrary to popular belief, fly fishing isn’t only done for trout in mountain streams. According to Superstein, you can actually do it in saltwater, lakes, ponds and rivers.
  • Invest in a starter kit. If you’re a total newbie, look into buying a starter kit that includes a rod, reel, line and flies. Some even come with the necessary knots already tied. And don’t feel like you have to spend a fortune, Superstein says. “Spending more money on gear doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to catch more fish.”
  • Ask the experts. From weather to season to type of fish, there are so many variables to take into account that Superstein cautions against sticking to any hard and fast rules for catching more. Instead, check with people who know the area. Ask fellow boaters, workers at the bait shop or members of local fishing clubs for the best spots to fish and the best type of bait or fly to use.
  • Explore the waters close to home. There’s no need to venture into the depths of the woods or up a mountain to a small trout stream. Fishing is likely more accessible than you think. You can fish in the heart of downtown Chicago or on the Hudson River in New York City and still get the benefits of nature while living in an urban setting, Superstein says.
  • Go whenever you can. While some only fish in the early morning and others swear by the first thaw of spring, Superstein warns against letting these restrictions hold you back. If you want to fish, go fish. “To quote my father,” she says. “‘The best time to fish is whenever you can,’ because for the most part, it’s not about the fish, it’s about getting out on the water.”

View the original post here.

Sep 7 2014

El Niño forecast is up in the air for Southern California


With the summer winding down, weather officials say the winter forecast is wide open.

While a mild-to-moderate El Niño weather pattern is widely expected to develop in the fall, forecast models have “projected many different outcomes,” said Eric Boldt, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

“The odds of drier than normal winter are just as high as a wetter than normal winter,” he said in a video released Tuesday.

Last month, climatologists downgraded the chance of El Niño forming this fall from 80% to 65%. But the latest three-month outlook for January to March shows a potential for above-normal precipitation in Southwest California, Boldt said.

Forecasters are in El Niño watch mode, noting that sea temperatures along the equatorial Pacific have warmed, a possible signal that the storm-producing weather system is strengthening, Boldt said.

In the last four weeks, sea surface temperatures were also above average along the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean.

El Niño winters in Southwest California have been historically wet, which would be a welcome reprieve for a region parched by a prolonged drought.

Nearly 60% of the state is experiencing “exceptional” drought conditions, the harshest on a five-level scale as measured by U.S. Drought Monitor.

For breaking news in Los Angeles and throughout California, follow @VeronicaRochaLA. She can be reached at

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

View the original post here.

Sep 7 2014

CHUCK DELLA SALA, JOE PENNISI, AND SHEMS JUD: Sustainability Certification Reflects Sea Change in West Coast Fisheries


September 4, 2014 — In essence, what the trawlers of the West Coast have done under this new system is renew the social contract that they have with the public, by providing assurance that they are harvesting a public resource in a sustainable manner.

The following op-ed was submitted to Saving Seafood by Chuck Della Sala, the Mayor of the City of Monterey, California; Joe Pennisi, the owner and skipper of the F/V Pioneer; and Shems Jud, of the Environmental Defense Fund’s Oceans Program:

Most California seafood lovers are familiar with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Consumer Guides – the booklets that recommend which fish to eat and which should be avoided.

Seafood Watch just dramatically increased its list of recommended seafood options from the West Coast. They now rank nearly all bottom trawl-caught groundfish as “good” and “best” alternatives. Those species include lingcod, chilipepper rockfish, Dover sole, and dozens more.

Readers accustomed to grim news about marine resources will find this news a pleasant surprise; but for those who closely follow commercial fisheries of the West Coast it may seem more like a miracle.

Fourteen years ago the West Coast groundfish fishery was declared a disaster by the federal government. Years of overharvesting and science and management failures had resulted in rapidly dwindling stocks as too many boats chased too few fish in a classic example of the “tragedy of the commons.” Eight species were declared overfished, and the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) and the National Marine Fisheries Services were scrambling – along with fishermen – to figure out some way to save a major American fishery, and one of great importance to Monterey and the region.

There’s nothing like disaster to bring unlikely partners together. In the years following the declaration it has been our privilege – fishermen, fishing communities, and conservationists, to sit together at the same table with the Council and the National Marine Fisheries Service to help develop an entirely new approach to managing one of the most complex multispecies fisheries on earth.

The quota-based management system that was eventually implemented in 2011 became known as the West Coast Groundfish Trawl Catch Share Program. It combined practical conservation incentives with a system of full accountability by putting federal observers on fishing vessels.   The program gives fishermen the flexibility to fish when the weather is right and to work with their markets to time landings to meet demand. Fishermen are also able to actively manage their portfolio of species, which has dramatically reduced both bycatch and discards.

Today, fishing businesses are slowly becoming more stable, and several of those overfished species are rebuilding at a surprisingly rapid rate.

In essence, what the trawlers of the West Coast have done under this new system is renew the social contract that they have with the public, by providing assurance that they are harvesting a public resource in a sustainable manner. The recent assessment from the Seafood Watch Program, and the June certification of thirteen species of West Coast groundfish as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council, verifies that.

This is an unfolding success story; West Coast fishermen still face stiff challenges. They have to pay for those observers and bear much of the cost of administering their catch share program. But the announcement by Seafood Watch signifies a remarkable course change in this fishery, a change that California seafood lovers – and that’s everybody reading this, right? – can be proud of.


View original post here.