Archive for the Technology Category

Apr 23 2018

Dr. Ray Hilborn and Team Launch New Sustainable Fisheries Website

The website and education tools make learning and reporting about seafood sustainability easier than ever.


SEATTLE, WA April 23, 2018 – Dr. Ray Hilborn and his network a fisheries scientists launch The website is built around Sustainable Seafood 101, a series of posts meant to explain the science, policy, and social aspects of global fisheries.


“Our goal is that anyone interested – a high school student, PhD candidate, or reporter alike – could read Sustainable Seafood 101 and walk away with a good understanding of the complexities of global fisheries,” said Dr. Hilborn, professor at the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington.


The new website also offers free fact-checking and source-finding for any interested journalist. Sustainable Fisheries UW can quickly put journalists, or other interested parties, in touch with the right expert to answer questions or fulfill interview requests.


The Sustainable Fisheries UW blog will keep readers up-to-date on events and research, as well as management and policy actions from around the world. Sustainable Seafood 101 coupled with up-to-date blogging gives readers access to fisheries science and policy in context, providing more complete information than can be gathered from a typical article. Sustainable Fisheries UW is a resource that explains fisheries news and provides relevant, supporting information quickly and easily.


The site also includes “Fishery Features” where long form posts detail the history and status of compelling fisheries around the world. The “Fact Check” section will highlight controversies in fishery science and stress the correct information.


Finally, will serve as the archive for CFoodUW, our former website meant to give fishery scientists and experts a platform to discuss recent research and fishery policy.


You can find Sustainable Fisheries UW on twitter @SustainFishUW and Facebook. For a more in-depth description of the site and Sustainable Seafood 101, visit the about page, contact us, or see the introductory blog.




Oct 25 2017

Testimony of Ray Hilborn to U.S. Senate subcommittee

Testimony of Ray Hilborn to U.S. Senate subcommittee.



Subcommittee to Continue Hearing Series on Magnuson-Stevens Act

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), chairman of the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, will convene the hearing titled “Reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act: Fisheries Science,” at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 24, 2017. The hearing is the fourth of the series and will focus on the state of our nation’s fisheries and the science that supports sustainable management.


– Mr. Karl Haflinger, Founder and President, Sea State, Inc
– Dr. Ray Hilborn, Professor, University of Washington School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences
– Dr. Michael Jones, Professor, Michigan State University Quantitative Fisheries Center
– Dr. Larry McKinney, Director, Texas A&M University Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies

Hearing Details:

Tuesday, October 24, 2017
2:30 p.m.
Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard

This hearing will take place in Russell Senate Office Building, Room 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on

Jun 9 2015

Fake Orca Flops Instead Of Striking Fear In Astoria’s Sea Lions

412226396Boats guide a fiberglass orca into the Port of Astoria’s East Mooring Basin.

The Port of Astoria attempted to scare hundreds of sea lions off its docks Thursday using a motorized orca made of fiberglass. But after a series of mishaps, the experiment went belly up.

Port leaders had high hopes for the fake orca as it pulled into town on a trailer from Bellingham, Washington. A fake baby orca tagged along, lashed onto the roof of an SUV.

It was designed to look like a killer whale but run like a boat, with a motor and a hole on top for a pilot to look out and steer. Everyone was hoping the sea lions would see it as a predator and swim away from the port docks, where they’ve caused major headaches.

But that’s not how things went. John Andersen of Bend watched as the whale eventually had to be towed back to the docks after multiple failures.

“I have seen its motor die. I’ve seen the tow rope snap. I’ve seen the pilot bail out,” he said. “I have seen what looks to me so far to be a major fiasco.”

The effort drew little if any reaction from the barking sea lions, but Port of Astoria Executive Director Jim Knight said he doesn’t see it as a total failure.

“Actually I feel really good because our expectations were pretty low,” he said. “We had no idea whether it would work. What we were really successful at was bringing attention to the problems we have here in Astoria with our friendly, noisy critters that have come to visit us. So, in that sense I’m really glad to have this opportunity and have the rest of the world know what we’re faced with.”

A record of more than 2,000 sea lions piled into the port’s East Mooring Basin this spring. The 800-pound animals have damaged the docks’ infrastructure and even sunk boats that tried to moor there.

The port has tried flagging, electrified pads and even beach balls to scare them off, but to no avail. Knight said he’d like to see what a real orca could do – or at least one that worked better then the one they launched on Thursday. But he suspects whatever effect an orca would have would be temporary.

“They’d probably come back anyway,” he said. “So, we’ve got to find much, much better measures than bringing in imitation orcas. I’m back to trying to find another way to keep them off the docks.”

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May 23 2015

This Smart, Data-Collecting, Wave-Predicting Surfboard Will Save Our Oceans

It maps waves, predicts conditions, turns surfers into citizen scientists, and could be the data-collecting tool climate scientists need to study our rapidly acidifying oceans.

As the Internet of Things inches its way into every corner of our lives, no one would blame you for rolling your eyes at the suggestion that even a surfboard should be embedded with sensors and smartphone connectivity.

Don’t. That surfboard is real. And it’s helping scientists better understand the impact climate change is having on our oceans.

In 2010, Andrew Stern, a former professor of neurology at the University of Rochester who’s now an environmental filmmaker and advocate, realized that surfers could serve as citizen scientists. Simply based on how much time they spend in the ocean, they could help collect data while on the water.

One of his filmmaker friends had recently met Benjamin Thompson, a surfer pursuing a PhD in structural engineering at the University of California, San Diego. Thompson was studying fluid-structure interactions, research that involved embedding sensors into boards. “It was mostly about tracking the performance of board,” he says. Thompson’s goal: to help the surfboard industry make better boards, and maybe use sensors to help surfers better understand (and improve) how they surf.

But after meeting Stern, Thompson realized he could use sensors as mini data loggers, collecting information about water chemistry as well as wave mechanics. He’d embed the electronics into a surfboard’s fin. Thus the project, named Smartphin, was born.

“My intention with this was to use it as a tool to inform people about the environment and specifically the oceans,” says Stern, who provided a home for Smartphin at the Lost Bird Project, his environmental filmmaking organization. “So I made a map with 17 surf spots around the world and said we’ll deploy to these places as many sensors as the scientists say we’ll need there [to collect] data.”

  Photo: Smartphin

Their original intent was to embed sensors to track water temperature, salinity (conductivity), and acidity, an important metric for climate scientists. Oceans have absorbed about a third of the carbon dioxide we’ve emitted since the dawn of the industrial age, making them around 25 percent more acidic than they were then. That lower pH (higher acidity) impedes the growth of calcium carbonate and is already harming shellfish fisheries and coral reefs. “But pH is hard to track, so we tackled temperature and conductivity first, and then planned on adding a pH sensor later,” Stern explains.

Earlier this year, the team competed in a $2 million competition hosted by the Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE to inspire innovation of accurate, durable, and affordable pH sensors to help scientists better track and study ocean acidification. They suddenly found themselves not only in the running for the top prize but also in the company of a gaggle of climate scientists and technologists who could help Thompson design a pH sensor for the fin. Smartphin even made it all the way to the semi-finals, where it competed against teams of scientists from universities and research centers all over the world, before being eliminated before the final round.

Stern and Thompson are now looking for a way to get the Smartphin into surfers’ quivers.

Though no formal agreements have been made, Intel is interested in joining the project to provide its chip and sensor acumen to the effort. And starting in November, the first Smartphin pilot project will begin, with 50 scientists and researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego screwing Smartphin prototypes into their boards and taking to the waters outside their workplace.

  Photo: Smartphin

The scientists will compare the data—on water temperature, salinity, and acidity—that they collect from the Smartphins with data collected from the same types of sensors affixed to a pier, Stern explains.

Of course, to better understand acidification along coastlines, scientists need to collect as much data in as many places as possible. And that raises the question: How do you get millions of surfers to swap out their fins for Smartphins? And why would they buy a Smartphin if, say, a nonprofit couldn’t cover the costs?

Thompson says he’s built some extra technology into Smartphin that will compel surfers to use it for their own selfish reasons: To know where and when waves are good and to track their own surfing performance.

Motion sensors integrated into the fin will generate high-resolution tracking data that a smartphone app, which the fin communicates with via Bluetooth, will turn into reports similar to those surfers get from using the Trace sensor, Thompson asserts. Here’s the real kicker: the fins will also collect wave characterization data, or what he calls wave signatures.

“In Southern California, from Point Conception to Tijuana, there are probably a dozen buoys in the water that characterize waves,” says Thompson. These basically size the wave potential, based on the swells, and project that all the way to the shore. “And then Surfline says, ‘This is what we think the waves are doing,'” he says.

But by culling data from sensors that are actually inside the waves and all around a break, Smartphin can generate a more accurate signature for the waves at any given time that people are surfing, says Thompson.

“A lot happens between the deep water and the break zone. You can use models to predict it but you don’t have the best [granularity],” he says, “We’ll remove that by recording what is actually happening.”

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Apr 15 2015

Can squid help make soldiers invisible?


Click to view video(s) —

Atlanta (CNN) — One of the world’s oldest organism groups, cephalopods, like squid, octopus and cuttlefish, have survived in Earth’s oceans for millions of years.

They key to their survival: mastering the art of camouflage.

Now, scientists say, these ancient invertebrates may hold the key to developing a combat technology that will allow soldiers to avoid infrared detection.

Researchers at the University of California, Irvine say they have discovered a way to use proteins in the cells of pencil squid to develop “invisibility stickers” that can be worn by ground troops.

“Soldiers wear uniforms with the familiar green and brown camouflage patterns to blend into foliage during the day, but under low light and at night, they’re still vulnerable to infrared detection,” said Alon Gorodetsky, assistant professor of chemical engineering and material sciences.

“You can draw inspiration from natural systems that have been perfected over millions of years, giving us ideas we might never have been able to come up with otherwise,” he said.

Gorodetsky and his team have focused on specialized squid cells known as iridocytes, which contain a unique light-reflecting protein called reflectin. They were able to engineer E. coli bacteria to synthesize reflectin and coat the protein onto a packing tape-like surface to create the “invisibility stickers.”

Researchers say these reflectin-coated stickers can be changed into virtually any color with a chemical or mechanical stimulus.

“There is a lot of flexibility in how one can deploy this material, essentially, by taking the stickers and putting them all over yourself, you could look one way under optical visualization and another way under active infrared visualization,” Gorodetsky said.

The lab technology is not ready to be used in combat zones as researchers work to develop an adaptive camouflage system, in which multiple stickers are able to work in sync and respond to varying infrared wavelengths.

“We’ve developed stickers for use as a thin, flexible layer of camo with the potential to take on a pattern that will better match the soldiers’ infrared reflectance to their background and hide them from active infrared visualization,” Gorodetsky said.

The researchers’ work was recently presented at the 2015 American Chemical Society national meeting.

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Jan 26 2015

Monterey Bay Aquarium testing the waters with open source camera

Mercury News | By Samantha Clark, Santa Cruz Sentinel

20150126_090912_mrbriRockfish researchers recover a frame carrying a small SeeStar system and a larger, older camera system after a deployment in Monterey Bay. (Francois Cazanave — MBARI)

MOSS LANDING — Ocean research can be a costly voyage. Scientists often need expensive, high-tech, complex equipment, which some research institutions might lack the funds to build or buy.

So engineers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute designed a simple underwater camera and lighting system that is made mostly of hardware store materials. And all for $3,000.

Most oceanographic camera systems cost $5,000 to $20,000 and require ships and cranes to carry the heavy equipment.

Any researcher can find the directions online to build the camera system themselves. It takes stills and video and operates as deep as 1,000 feet for months at a time.

“There is a movement to have open source oceanographic equipment,” said Chad Kecy, lead designer and MBARI engineer. “Anyone could take our designs and modify them for specific needs they have. It’s just a less expensive and easier way of getting cameras in the water.”

The project began in 2012 when MBARI marine biologist Steve Haddock wanted a cheap and easily deployable camera for researchers around the world to document jellyfish blooms. He also wanted versatility. A lightweight system needed to attach to a pier, be mounted on the seafloor and carried by a robotic submarine.

The SeeStar’s relatively simple design met Haddock’s criteria. It’s a GoPro camera with longer battery life and controllable lights all housed inside standard PVC pipe with commercially available electrical cables.

“We chose materials intentionally that people would be able to purchase at a local hardware store,” Kecy said. “The mechanical parts, we tried to get them off the shelf. We were thinking about cost at every step of the way.”

Researchers have begun testing the waters with the SeeStar system. Instead of using their bulky and expensive cameras, scientists with the Nature Conservancy and Moss Landing Marine Laboratories opted for multiple SeeStar cameras to capture video in Rockfish Conservation Areas along the west coast and seafloor animals under the ice in Antarctica.

The California Wetfish Producers Association used SeeStar to photograph the eggs and larvae of market squid. While the squid make up a large and economically important fishery in California, scientists don’t know much about what they do when they’re not spawning or the best conditions for spawning.

“If you were to charter at ROV (remotely operated vehicle), I’ve heard it’s like $10,000 a day, which is outrageous and beyond our budgeting,” said Diane Pleschner-Steele, executive director of the nonprofit. “Putting together our own SeeStar camera is going to give us a lot of opportunity to understand what’s going on within their life cycle. Just by looking at a photograph, we were able to tell which eggs were about to hatch.”

However, the designers want camera to be even more accessible. The circuit board that controls the system is still complex enough leave non-engineers scratching their heads, so Kecy is looking to replace it with the popular Arduino microcontrollers this year.

“The camera system could have uses beyond marine research and could be used for monitoring anything long term,” Kecy said. “Because it’s open source, inexpensive and really easy, it just presents an opportunity for more researchers to cameras out in the water.”

—— (c)2015 the Santa Cruz Sentinel (Scotts Valley, Calif.) Visit the Santa Cruz Sentinel (Scotts Valley, Calif.) at

Dec 2 2014

Monterey historic boat could get new purpose

gp1Built by Sicilian born boatbuilder Angelo Siinno in Monterey around 1927-1930, the General Pershing may be repurposed into a classroom on the bay.
David Royal — Monterey Herald

The Siino family has contributed a lot to the history of Monterey and their latest idea could give back even more.

They said this week they are aiming to turn the largest boat Sicilian-born Angelo Siino, one of Monterey’s most famous shipbuilders, ever crafted into an educational tool.

The General Pershing boat is roughly 60 feet long, 15 feet wide and was built around 1927 at Monterey Boatworks and used to film “Captains Courageous” in 1937 and other films. It is still seaworthy.

“Our goal is to make it back to being useful for the heritage of Monterey. We’re calling it Classroom on the Bay. We want it to be a teaching vessel,” said Siino’s granddaughter, Janet Martinez, 68, of Aromas.

Martinez said they need help restoring the lampara boat, which she estimates could reach up to $150,000. They have been repainting it for the last three weeks.

She said they hope to partner with a nonprofit or get grants to accomplish their vision.

In the meantime, she has written a book called “Master Boat Builders of Italy.” Revenue from sales will be used for the project.

Given the boat was built during the heyday of the sardine industry, she said students could be taught the history of Monterey aboard, as well as modern classes about the ecology of the Bay.

Angelo Siino moved to the United States from Sicily in 1903 and to Monterey in 1914. He died in 1956.

He built 15 boats from scratch and did it without blueprints, Martinez said.

“To this day, I don’t know how they did it,” she said.

He taught his craft to sons, Raymond and Frank, who became celebrated ship builders.

The General’s original owner was Neno DiMaggio, cousin to baseball legend Joe DiMaggio, who named it after Gen. John J. “Black Jack” Pershing, the World War I figure under whom Neno DiMaggio served.

It eventually ended up in San Francisco under the ownership of fisherman Frank Watada. He gave it back to the Siino family in 2003.

The General hit the news in 2008 when a colony of seabirds called Brand’s cormorant took up residence on it and required U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologists to get them out.

Martinez can be found at Boatworks most days painting the boat but can also be reached at


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Aug 1 2014

Farming The Bluefin Tuna, Tiger Of The Ocean, Is Not Without A Price

Dan Charles  |  July 30, 2014


Yonathan Zohar, Jorge Gomezjurado and Odi Zmora check on bluefin tuna larvae in tanks at the University of Maryland Baltimore County’s Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology. (Courtesy of Yonathan Zohar)


In a windowless laboratory in downtown Baltimore, some tiny, translucent fish larvae are swimming about in glass-walled tanks.

They are infant bluefin tuna. Scientists in this laboratory are trying to grasp what they call the holy grail of aquaculture: raising this powerful fish, so prized by sushi lovers, entirely in captivity. But the effort is fraught with challenges.

When I visited, I couldn’t see the larvae at first. They look incredibly fragile and helpless, just drifting in the tanks’ water currents. But they’re already gobbling up microscopic marine animals, which in turn are living on algae.

“It’s amazing. We cannot stop looking at them! We are here around the clock and we are looking at them, because it is so beautiful,” says Yonathan Zohar, the scientist in charge of this project.

It’s beautiful to Zohar because it’s so rare. Scientists are trying to raise bluefin tuna completely in captivity in only a few places around the world. Laboratories in Japan have led the effort. This experiment, at the University of Maryland Baltimore County’s Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology, is the first successful attempt in North America.

Scientists still have a long way to go to succeed. Most of the larvae have died, but hundreds have now survived for 10 days, “and we are counting every day,” says Zohar. “We want to be at 25 to 30 days. This is the bottleneck. The bottleneck is the first three to four weeks.”

If they make it that far, they’ll be juvenile fish and much more sturdy. Then, they’ll mainly need lots to eat.

Fully grown, the bluefin tuna is a tiger of the ocean: powerful and voracious, its flesh in high demand for sushi all around the world.

Journalist Paul Greenberg wrote about bluefin tuna in his book Four Fish. If you’re an angler, he says, catching one is an experience you don’t forget.

“When they come onboard, it’s like raw energy coming onto the boat. Their tail will [beat] like an outboard motor, just blazing with power and energy,” he says.

The fish can grow to 1,000 pounds. They can swim up to 45 miles per hour and cross entire oceans.

They’re also valuable. Demand for tuna has grown, especially in Japan, where people sometimes pay fantastic prices for the fish.

That demand has led to overfishing, and wild populations of tuna now are declining.

That’s why scientists like Zohar are trying to invent a new way to supply the world’s demand. They’re trying to invent bluefin tuna farming.

“The vision is to have huge tanks, land-based, in a facility like what you see here, having bluefin tuna that are spawning year-round, on demand, producing millions of eggs,” he says.

Those eggs would hatch and grow into a plentiful supply of tuna.

That brings us back to these precious larvae. Before there can be aquaculture, large quantities of these larvae have to survive. Here in the laboratory, the scientists are tinkering with lots of things — the lights above the tanks, the concentration of algae and water currents — to keep the fragile larvae from sinking toward the bottom of the tank.

“They tend to go down,” explains Zohar. “They have a heavy head. They go head down and tail up. If they hit their head on the bottom they are gone. They are not going to survive.”

Enough are surviving, at the moment, that Zohar thinks they’re getting close to overcoming this obstacle, too.

But that still leaves a final hurdle. The scientists will need to figure out how to satisfy the tuna’s amazing appetite without causing even more damage to the environment.

A tuna’s natural diet consists of other fish. Lots of other fish. Right now, there are tuna “ranches” that capture young tuna in the ocean and then fatten them up in big net-pens. According to Greenberg, those ranches feed their tuna about 15 pounds of fish such as sardines or mackerel for each additional pound of tuna that can be sold to consumers. That kind of tuna production is environmentally costly.

Zohar thinks that it will be possible to reduce this ratio or even create tuna feed that doesn’t rely heavily on other fish as an ingredient.

But Greenberg says the basic fact that they eat so much makes him wonder whether tuna farming is really the right way to go. It increases the population of a predator species that demands lots of food itself.

“Why would you domesticate a tiger when you could domesticate a cow,” he asks — or, even better, a chicken, which converts just 2 pounds of vegetarian feed into a pound of meat.

If farmed tuna really can reduce the demand for tuna caught in the wild, it would be worth doing. But it might do more good, he says, to eat a little lower on the marine food chain. We could eat more mussels or sardines. It would let more tuna roam free.


Read the original story here.

Apr 22 2014

Swim to Sea? These Salmon Are Catching a Lift


Salmon were put into the hold of the trawler Merva W this month for a trip to San Francisco Bay. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times

RIO VISTA, Calif. — As the Merva W puttered down the Sacramento River, it looked like any other dowdy fishing vessel headed toward the Golden Gate Bridge. But no other boat had as surprising a cargo or as unusual a mission: The Merva W was giving 100,000 young salmon a lift to the Pacific in the hope of keeping them alive…

Read the entire story here. []

Apr 19 2014

Forming Partnerships – Spotlight: US West Coast Fisheries

This video highlights a couple west coast fisheries and their positive efforts to fish responsibly. A gillnet fishery, faced with closure in the mid 90’s, redesigned the “pinger” to ward off marine mammals from being caught (now mandatory gear); An entrepreneur fisherman who has created a direct from boat fish market, attracting thousands of visitors from all over southern California and opening new income avenues not only for himself but for the harbor and the area. There are interviews with scientists who discuss the sustainable fishing issues as well as issues of buying imported fish vs. buying US caught fish. Written, produced, directed, edited, narrated by John Dutton.