Posts Tagged fish

Oct 1 2014

Celebrating Seafood, Sustainability and Stewardship

Join the Celebration of Seafood, Sustainability and Stewardship – National Seafood Month 2014

“Seafood has become a powerful ambassador for global ocean stewardship–effectively connecting the wellbeing of human populations to the health and productivity of our ocean resources; and more importantly, our collective responsibility for their stewardship.”

Eileen Sobeck, Assistant Administrator for Fisheries
National Seafood Month, 2014

In honor of this year’s National Seafood Month, today NOAA Fisheries launched an online celebration of the science, management and partnerships behind the stewardship of U.S. fisheries and their leadership role in sustainable seafood. Please book mark our web page, see what’s new on FishWatch, and join the conversation.

e_sobeck_leader_messageEileen Sobeck
Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries


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
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Copyright © 2014

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.


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Aug 29 2014

Focusing In: Collaborative Fisheries Research West

Collaborative Fisheries Research West is a program that supports and facilitates research involving fishermen, managers and scientists. Unlike other cases we have examined, this is a program dedicated to supporting one very particular kind of citizen science. In this summary we describe the approach that CFR West has taken to supporting collaborative fisheries research — the principles and practices that they instill through their program — using the same framework that we have applied to citizen science programs in previous blog posts.

The Basics
Collaborative Fisheries Research West is a not-for-profit organization that develops partnerships between fishermen, managers, and scientists for the purpose of contributing to fisheries science and management, for example: bycatch reduction, gear recovery, population structure, or seafood markets. CFR West may fund projects directly, provide project management and oversight or contribute scientific expertise to these efforts. Projects must abide by a set of ten principles (link is external), the first of which is that projects must be relevant to fisheries management. The last round of funding, supported by the California Ocean Protection Council, committed over $1.1 million to 15 projects.

Program Participation
While all of the CFR West projects involve collaborators from the fishing community, participation varies amongst individual projects. Some are instigated by fishermen: for example, conducting aerial sardine surveys to complement acoustic-trawl surveys conducted by the National Marine Fisheries Service. Another project collects life history information on night smelt by beach fishermen in northern California. Others are driven by management needs x for example, an experiment to test the effect of trap hole diameters on the size distribution of hagfish was led by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. All, however, are required to maintain close cooperation and communication amongst all three partner types, from identifying the research questions and determining best methods through data collection to data interpretation. This is one of the highest forms of collaboration and is recognized by scholars of participation to be an effective means to integrate different worldviews towards a common goal.

Fishermen get involved with the program often because they do not see the best available science used to inform management decisions – possibly because there xs not much available science. In these cases, fishermen lend their expertise to help steward the resource in the future. Managers are motivated to work together to improve the data available for developing regulations and policy. Scientists share a similar motivation – a desire to better understand fisheries ecology in order to support the livelihoods, economy, and ecosystems that depend on fisheries, and, of course, an interest in learning how populations and ecosystems respond to recreational and commercial fishing pressure.

Meeting the Mission by Balancing Goals
CFR West has the following mission statement:
CFR West engages commercial and recreational fishermen, resource managers, tribes, nongovernmental organizations, and scientists by facilitating and supporting applied research focused on fisheries and fisheries resources and their human dimensions. Through open and collaborative partnerships, CFR West contributes to the management of sustainable marine resources, and fosters the stewardship of those resources.
Data from CFR West are used for both scientific and management applications, which helps connect science and policy. This connection bolsters the sometimes flagging trust between fishermen and managers, who can have a conversation about the data and how they are interpreted. For the fishermen, participation fosters a sense of stewardship for the resource and participants report that taking on these responsibilities can be rewarding.
The stewardship aspect of this mission, aside from producing management-relevant science, brings together a diverse group of stakeholders in research and fosters a stewardship ethic among these communities. The manner in which CFR West implements its multi-faceted mission is affected heavily by the uncertainty and nature of its funding. As a result, most projects are, by necessity, short term and the means for maintaining continued support for long term monitoring, a requirement for good fishery management, are limited at best.

Data Types Good for a Citizen Science Approach
Collaborative fisheries research is designed to utilize expertise in the fishing industry gained largely through daily experience on the water or practical experience gained on the job. There are many avenues for such integration of expertise, as demonstrated by the wide diversity of projects under the CFR West umbrella. They are mostly unified by research that includes a large amount of fieldwork, as time on the water is the best place to share and demonstrate the experiential knowledge of fishermen.

Data Uses

Scientific Uses
The scientific partners in each of these projects generally make sure that the data contributes to the appropriate body of scientific literature. A number of the projects also enroll graduate students in the work, who use the data as part of their thesis work.

Management Uses

In addition to the data from the research projects, lessons learned from the research process itself can inform management. CFR West projects must be completed or transferred to an agency within three years, and some projects serve as pilots for potentially long-term programs within management agencies.

Scientific Credibility

verification of data quality

The collaborative aspect of CFR West xs approach promotes trust-building among participants in the program, and a degree of data verification happens through reputation-building of the investigators as trustworthy brokers of information. Otherwise, the data is reviewed the same way as most other fisheries research – by undergoing review as part of the process of making management decisions through the Pacific Marine Fishery Council, the Department of Fish and Wildlife or the National Marine Fisheries Service, as well as the peer-review process of publishing in academic journals and presenting at scientific conferences. CFR West also makes an effort to disseminate project results widely to include fishing communities and the interested public in a manner that is generally accessible to the non-scientist. For example, the results of the hagfish trap experiment were presented at meetings held in key port communities from Morro Bay to Eureka. This too functions as a kind of peer review, whereby those not involved in the research process have an opportunity to consider the projects and their results and provide input to CFR West and project collaborators.

raw data transparency and access

Every project must make the data publicly available unless there xs a specific sensitivity, but the logistics of this access can be tricky. Results published in scientific journals (a common product of these projects) often reside behind paywalls, so the fishing partners often do not have access, plus raw data is not always included. In addition, fisherman participants worry about sharing spatially explicit data, which might give away lucrative fishing spots or invite legal battles with DFW enforcement.

clarity of communications

Communicating about the scientific process comes primarily in the form of participation – fishermen, scientists, and managers are all invited to spend time designing the research, collection data, or otherwise observing the research process firsthand. Similarly, post-project community presentations and outreach materials offers everyone an opportunity to learn. One of the major challenges, however, is to design these in such a way that they are accessible to all.

willingness and capability to adapt methods

CFR West is currently beginning a process of evaluating itself. The evaluation will form the basis of plans for future collaborative research as well fundraising strategies. Some of the projects will live on, as they include plans to develop a strategy for future activity. The crab gear recovery project, for example, has developed a long-range plan to convert the effort to a largely industry-funded one, including work with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to address legal issues that would otherwise interfere with the process.

Program Sustainability

Since the CFR West program focuses heavily on creating trusting relationships between fishermen, managers and scientists, it depends especially heavily on equal participation – xtrue collaboration x – through all the intellectual and economic aspects of the project. One of the challenges CFR West faces is that the funding is structured around short-term projects, while maintaining these relationships requires some standing level of base funding. Another challenge is that the nature of a traditional request for proposals, so familiar to scientists, is foreign to fishermen; ways of encouraging these fishermen to come forward with their own ideas that would benefit from collaboration should be developed.
Just like any research, collaborative fisheries research has some resource needs that are critical to success of the program. Many of these needs are specific to the research question at hand – for example, equipment and data analysis software. But there are a couple of additional resources peculiar to collaborative fisheries arrangements:

  • coordinator, especially to connect potential partners.
  • payment for fishing partner xs time (managers and scientists are generally salaried employees; if they are not fishing, fishermen are not earning a living)
  • data management and regulating data access

Looking Toward the Future

Collaborative fisheries research is a subset of the broader citizen science community. It is one that celebrates and values the experiential expertise of fishermen. Yet, to date on the Central Coast, there are no models that blend collaborative fisheries research (with commercial fishermen) and more typical citizen science, which often focuses on long-term monitoring. Such a program might look something like fishermen recording observations while out on the water daily. Collaborative fisheries research is an evolving model, and for the long term, one that needs to collect quality data without huge injections of grant money. This can be done, but the model that demonstrates this goal does not appear to be out there yet.

For existing projects, the future holds a program evaluation. The CFR West director, Peter Nelson, says he is interested in participants x sense of what collaborative research is and if their feelings on the process changed over the course of their project. In addition, CFR West might shift its attention a bit – to be less of a grant-making institution and more of a boundary organization that helps cement relationships between the many partners in the fishing industry, management, and academic science.

kirk_lynn_cfr_westAerial sardine surveys. Photo by Kirk Lynn, CDFW

lyall_bellquist_cfrwestTag and release study of Paralabrax spp. Photo by Lyall Bellquist.

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Aug 10 2014

This Is Your Brain on Fish

Thicker, stronger, and more resilient. Once a week is all it takes, new research says.
James Hamblin | Aug 7 2014


Alex Trautwig/Getty

Have you ever considered undergoing brain-thickening surgery, only to find that such a thing does not exist? And that the guy in the van was probably not actually a surgeon? Well, consider fish.

Dr. Cyrus Raji, a resident radiologist at UCLA, appreciates value beyond the cosmetics of a thick cerebral cortex. He’s the lead researcher in a new study in the current American Journal of Preventive Medicine that found that people who regularly eat fish have more voluminous brains than those who do not—in such a way that stands to protect them from Alzheimer’s disease.

“Understanding the effects of fish consumption on brain structure is critical for the determination of modifiable factors that can decrease the risk of cognitive deficits and dementia,” Raji and colleagues write. The team has previously shown gainful effects of physical activity and obesity on brain structure.

This study found that eating fish—baked or broiled, never fried—is associated with larger gray matter volumes in brain areas responsible for memory and cognition in healthy elderly people.

“There wasn’t one type of fish that was the best,” Raji told me by phone, probably while eating fish. “All that mattered was the method of preparation.” Fried fish had a unique dearth of benefits to the brain.

People who eat fish at least once a week have larger gray matter volumes in the red/yellow areas.


“If you eat fish just once a week, your hippocampus—the big memory and learning center—is 14 percent larger than in  people who don’t eat fish that frequently. 14 percent. That has implications for reducing Alzheimer’s risk,” Raji said. “If you have a stronger hippocampus, your risk of Alzheimer’s is going to go down.”

“In the orbital frontal cortex, which controls executive function, it’s a solid 4 percent,” Raji said. “I don’t know of any drug or supplement that’s been shown to do that.”

Speaking of supplements, the researchers initially looked to omega-3 fatty acids as the driver of these benefits. But when they looked at the levels of omega-3s in people’s blood, they didn’t correlate with better brain volumes.

“These findings suggest additional evidence that it is lifestyle factors—in this case, dietary intake of fish,” the researchers write, “and not necessarily the presumed biological factors that can affect the structural integrity of the brain.”

Omega-3 fatty acids have previously been shown to slow cognitive decline. In one study, higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in people’s blood were associated with lower rates of brain atrophy observable over just a four-year period. We also know that when rats are fed diets low in omega-3 fatty acids, they have increased signs of dementia, possibly mediated by insulin and related buildup of amyloid plaques in their tiny brains.

Eating more omega-3 fatty acids, a lot of fruit, and not much meat, has previously been associated with increased volume throughout the brain’s gray matter. Recent research in the journal Neurology found that elderly people with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood had better cognitive function than those with lower levels. MRIs of their brains showed larger volumes, too. (The associations also held for vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, C, D, and E, and folate.)

Drs. Deborah Barnes and Kristine Yaffe at UCSF recently calculated in Lancet Neurology that up to half of cases of Alzheimer’s disease “are potentially attributable” to seven modifiable risk factors: diabetes, midlife high blood pressure, midlife obesity, smoking, depression, cognitive inactivity or low educational attainment, and physical inactivity. Minimal inroads in those areas, they say, could result in millions fewer cases of Alzheimer’s.
People who ate fish once per week were just as well off as those who ate it more frequently.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine corroborate, “Our research has consistently shown that it is the interactions among these risk factors with the patho-biological cascade of Alzheimer’s disease that determine the likelihood of a clinical expression as dementia or mild cognitive impairment.”

Specific suspects in the fish-brain benefit paradigm are omega-3s docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which seem to increase the size of the amygdala and anterior cingulate gyrus, and possibly overall brain volume. DHA and EPA can also affect the way neural synapses fire.

“Something about fish consumption, whatever it is, is strengthening to the brain,” Raji said. “It’s also possible that we’re capturing a general lifestyle effect—that there’s something else out there we’re not measuring that’s accounting for this.”

For example, people who ate fish might also eat more tartar sauce, and it might actually be that tartar sauce was responsible here. Though that’s unlikely. The researchers did control for obesity, physical activity, education, age, gender, race, and every other variable they could think of, and fish-eating itself remained a strong predictor of gray matter volume.

Even if it is just that people of good birth and cognitive fortune are those eating fish, the number of people with dementia is projected to double every 20 years. Or, as Raji put it to me, “By the time you and I are in our 60s and we start worrying about Alzheimer’s, 80 million people in the United States are going to have it.”

As that tide approaches, it can be nice to adopt a few hard grains of habit that confer a sense of command in sealing it out. Raji and other dementia researchers note that the challenge is to implement prevention strategies in the decades prior to ages when dementia manifests, before there are any signs of brain structural or functional abnormalities. In the case of fish, this doesn’t have to be a foundational life overhaul or even a substantive acquiescence. People who ate fish once per week were just as neurologically fortified as those who ate it daily.

“Nobody wants to eat food like they’re taking medicine,” Raji said. Unless, of course, they do.


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Aug 7 2014

Russian ban hits US exports of hake, surimi, pink salmon and salmon roe; canned products excluded

SEAFOODNEWS.COM  by John Sackton – Aug 7, 2014


Russia’s announcement early today of the food commodity imports it will ban covers most frozen fish and seafood products.  However canned products under custom codes 1604 and 1605 will not be included.


The list of banned products covers all fresh and frozen fish, molluscs, and crustaceans.


The most immediate impacts for US producers will be felt on the West Coast, with hake, surimi, frozen pink salmon and salmon roe all significant export products to Russia.  All are now subject to the import ban.


For whiting/hake, US exports to Russia through June were worth about $4 million, and for all of 2013, the total export value was nearly $8 million.


For pollock surimi, shipments through June to Russia were worth $3.5 million, and for all of 2013 $8.2 million.


Salmon roe is where the most direct market impact might be felt because Russian imports of salmon roe represent a larger share of total production than they do for hake or surimi.  In 2013, total salmon roe exports to Russia were valued at $45.9 million, with a volume of over 7 million pounds.  Through June, shipments of salmon roe out of inventory from last year were worth $8.5 million, with a total volume of 1.1 million pounds.


The imposition of the import ban on salmon roe at the height of the roe production season is going to have a market impact, since the roe not shipped to Russia will have to be sold in Eastern Europe and Japan.  As a result, these markets will have to absorb greater supply, with a corresponding decline in price.


Frozen pink salmon will also be affected.  In 2013, virtually no frozen pinks were sold to Russia, but in 2014, that jumped from less than $250,000 to $3.3 million, making frozen pink salmon the second most valuable US export in the first half of the year, after whiting.


Canned pink salmon and other canned seafoods are not part of the ban.   However, Russia is not an export market for canned salmon from the US, and the exemption will have little impact.


The Russian sanctions on fresh and frozen fish and seafood were applied to the EU, Canada and Australia as well.  The biggest impact will be in Norway, where an immediate fall in salmon prices is expected.


Russia imported 6.6 billion NOK worth of seafood from Norway last year, of which 4.2 billion NOK was salmon.


Analysts who have modeled the impact of a Russian ban see an immediate price drop of more than 10-12%, and then a near term market settling about 10-12% below current levels for fresh Norwegian salmon.


Long term, if these sanctions continue in place for a year or longer, these same analysts from the Bergen firm Optimeering expect the impact to be minimal, as new markets will be found and trade patterns adjusted.


One of the ‘winners’ on salmon is likely to be Chile, whose exports are not affected.  Ironically, the same Norwegian firms cut out of the market via Norway, will be expanding their sales in Russia through their Chilean subsidiaries.  However, the Chilean shipments will be frozen Atlantic salmon, which has had nowhere near the growth experienced in fresh.


Russia is likely to expand its imports from Asia, including black market channels through China.  China already imports Norwegian and other farmed salmon, and it would not take much for some of this salmon to find its way to Russia.



Posted with permission of | Copyright © 2014

Jul 15 2014

More Big Whales in Ocean Could Mean More Fish, Scientists Find

New study reveals how scientists and fisheries managers underestimated the massive mammals.


The return of large whales—such as sperm (pictured), blue, right, and gray—could help ocean fish populations recover.

Photograph by Stephen Frink, Corbis

Brian Clark Howard
National Geographic
Published July 10, 2014

Scientists and fisheries managers have long underestimated the valuable role large whales play in healthy ocean ecosystems, a new study suggests. And, scientists add, those commercial fishermen who complain that whales steal fish from their nets have it wrong.

An increase in the number of large whales—like blue, sperm, right, and gray—around the world could lead to a healthier ocean and more fish, a team of scientists report in a review study published this month in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

The underestimation occurred because “when oceanographic studies were started, large whales were largely absent from the ecosystem—because we had killed most of them,” says the study’s lead author, Joe Roman, a biologist at the University of Vermont in Burlington.

Large whales were heavily hunted until the 1970s. At that point an estimated 66 to 90 percent of the animals had been removed from ocean waters.

But since then, great whales have been slowly recovering. There are now more than a million sperm whales, and tens of thousands of gray whales.

Yet blue whales—the largest animal ever known to have lived on the planet—have been slower to rebound. In fact, they remain at about one percent of their historic range in the Southern Hemisphere. Roman says scientists think their absence may have altered the ecosystem in a way that made it harder for all life to survive there.

In recent years, as whale numbers have increased and technology has advanced—especially the ability to tag and track seafaring animals—we’ve begun to gain a better understanding of how important cetaceans are, says Roman.

“Whale Pumps and Conveyor Belts”

The scientists report that when whales feed, often at great depths, and then return to the surface to breathe, they mix up the water column. That spreads nutrients and microorganisms through different marine zones, which can lead to feeding bonanzas for other creatures. And the materials in whale urine and excrement, especially iron and nitrogen, serve as effective fertilizers for plankton.

Many great whales migrate long distances to mate, during which time they bring those nutrients with them. When they breed in far latitudes, they make important nutrient contributions to waters that are often poor in resources. Even their placentas can be rich sources of feedstocks for other organisms, says Roman, who calls whale migration a “conveyor belt” of nutrients around the ocean.

Whale deaths can be helpful too. When one of the massive mammals dies, its body sinks to the sea bottom, where it nourishes unique ecosystems of scavengers, from hagfishes to crabs to worms. Dozens of those scavenger species are found nowhere else, says Roman.

“Because [humans] took out so many whales, there were probably extinctions in the deep sea before we knew those [scavenger] species existed,” says Roman, who adds that he’s working on a new study to estimate how many of those scavenger species were lost.

Maddalena Bearzi, a marine biologist and president of the California-based Ocean Conservation Society who was not affiliated with the study, calls the paper “a great and interesting piece” that could help us better understand the role marine mammals play in the ocean ecosystem.

Fishers vs. Whales

For decades some commercial fishermen have complained that whales eat the fish that they’re trying to catch. Japan’s government has been particularly vocal, going as far as to say that whaling is necessary because “whales are threatening our fisheries.” (See “Japan’s Commercial Whaling Efforts Should Resume, Says Prime Minister.”)

Masayuki Komatsu, one of Japan’s international whaling negotiators, famously told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in 2001 that “there are too many” minke whales, calling them “the cockroach of the ocean.”

Roman disagrees.

“It’s far more complicated than that,” he says, referring to the whale pump and the conveyor belt. “Our new review points to several studies that show you have more fish in an ecosystem by having these large predators there.”

The next step, he says, is to conduct more field studies on those processes. That could help scientists better understand exactly how plankton and other organisms respond to the presence of whales.


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Jun 26 2014

Fresh fish versus frozen fish: Is it a fair fight?


Consumers may consider fresh fish to be better overall than frozen fish. But, the difference isn’t as clear-cut as it may seem to be.

By Andrea Moore, Food Tank


Ben Pierce/Bozeman Daily Chronicle/AP/File
Josh Bergan fights a rainbow trout on Hebgen Lake in Montana. Consumers may consider fresh fish to be better overall than frozen fish, but the difference isn’t as clear-cut as it may seem to be.

Fresh versus frozen doesn’t seem like a fair fight. Who would pick that old, damaged, nutrient-poor frozen fish when they could have a new, unblemished, nutrient-rich fresh one?

In the case of seafood, the assumptions surrounding those f-words are inconsistent with the reality of getting quality fish to the dinner table in a waste-conscious way. So let’s ignore the imagery for a minute and consider some fish logistics.

From the Depths

To find, reach, fish, and return from fishing holes in the open ocean costs time, money, and freshness. Commercial fishing operations have two options:

  1. Store fish on ice and return before they spoil (according to the FAO, cod and haddock last 15 days or so).
  2. Flash-freeze fish and return when the hold is full.

The economics definitely favor freezing, and in developed countries in 2012, 55 percent of processed fish for human consumption was frozen, up from 38 percent in 1972. But aren’t we sacrificing nutrition for convenience by choosing to freeze instead of chill?

Delaying Decay

Fish are like any other organism—when they die, they begin to decay. Immediately. Yes, chilling slows that decay as well as microbial growth and nutrient loss, but the only way to stop those processes is freezing.

Aboard fish processing ships, products are flash-frozen using freezing plates, air blasts, or liquid nitrogen spray, which reduces the internal temperature of products to -20°C in minutes to a few hours. This rapid freezing preserves nutrients and decreases the formation of ice crystals that damage cell membranes and negatively affect the texture of thawed products.

Flying Fish

For a fresh fish to get from the sea to the scenic prairies, it needs to fly. But after an unknown time on a ship, an airplane, and store shelves, how fresh could that fish in your fridge really be? If you’re a skeptical consumer, you’ll try the sniff test, and if there’s any doubt, you’ll probably throw it out. What a waste! Not only the fish, but the resources used in obtaining, storing, and shipping that fish.

You might be less skeptical of a thawed fish’s freshness and you’re definitely more likely to only thaw the amount you need. That reduces waste. And, because the clock on frozen seafood is ticking so slowly, products can be shipped in containers, which is a slower but cheaper method, often reflected in the product’s price at the supermarket.

The Verdict

Maybe fresh versus frozen really wasn’t a fair fight after all. Nutrients, waste, cost—frozen beats fresh on many fronts. But does that mean you should turn down your local fisherman’s daily catch in favor of a frozen filet?

Sustainable Fresh or Sustainable Frozen?

Let’s remember the big picture when it comes to seafood: sustainability. In my recent article, I discussed why sustainable seafood is important and how to find it—fresh or frozen. Because of overfishing, we should always be thinking sustainable first, but when do you choose sustainable fresh or sustainable frozen?


If the fish can get from the boat deck to your backdoor in half a day without flying first class, fresh is a safe bet. Otherwise, feel confident that a conscious choice for frozen is a healthier and less wasteful one.

Read the original article here.


May 19 2014

dead fish wash ashore in marina del rey

By Q McCray
Sunday, May 18, 2014
Massive cleanup efforts are underway after thousands of dead fish were found floating in Marina Del Rey Saturday afternoon, near Ballona Creek.

Anchovies, stingrays, halibut, sunfish and an octopus were among the thousands of dead fish that rose to the surface at Basin A of the marina near Tahiti Way, according to the Sheriff’s Department.


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Mar 17 2014

World’s oceans hold 30 times more fish than believed

World s oceans hold 30 times more fish than believed   University World News
Pew research by an international team of marine scientists suggests that the global biomass of fish is 30 times more than the accepted estimate, contradicting previous beliefs about the biomass of fish in the world’s oceans.

The team investigated mesopelagic fish that tend to dominate the world total fish biomass. Mesopelagic fish are open-sea species that occupy the mid-depth of the oceans from 200 metres to 1,000 metres below the surface.

They are small, often migrate to the surface at night, and have remarkable senses – in vision and in sensing pressure and motion – which enables them to avoid nets and fishing gear.

In a report in Nature Communications, the scientists say they had not been able to accurately estimate the biomass of fish in the past because of the difficulties in sampling and the fact that available estimates were based on false premises.

To overcome these problems, the researchers analysed acoustic observations collected during the Malaspina 2010 Circumnavigation Expedition. Their calculations showed that the previous estimate needed to be revised to a higher biomass of at least one order of magnitude.

This means there could be more than 3,000 million tonnes of mesopelagic fish in the ocean – a stock still untouched by fisheries and possibly increasing because of the decline of their main predators, tuna and swordfish.

Read the full article here.