Posts Tagged mackerel

Jun 27 2015

Holy mackerel! Monterey Harbor working to keep fish invasion from dying off

Monterey >> Beneath the still waters of the Monterey Harbor lurks a grave threat to the tranquility of the city’s picturesque waterfront.

Mackerel. Tons of them.

Oh, they may not look like much of a menace. And alive, they are no problem.

But dead, they can foul the water and air for days on end, a disaster the likes of which the harbor has not seen in 20 years. Right now, the only thing between a pleasant day at the wharf and walking around with clothespins on our noses are 15 high-powered aerators working overtime to pump enough oxygen into the water to keep the fish alive.

“They’re heavy-duty commercial machines,” said Harbormaster Steve Scheiblauer, who first noticed the invasion early this week. “In the 19 years or 18 years since we’ve put ‘em in, we’ve had at least a half a dozen very large schools of fish, mostly sardines, that have come in, and we feel they’ve kept them alive.”

Fish kills are a relatively common harbor phenomenon, occurring when enough fish swim into a harbor to use up all the oxygen. When they die, they sink. When they rise to the surface a few days later, they stink.

The long, narrow Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor has seen fish kills with relative frequency, including last year. To clear the mess takes a bucket brigade and volunteers with exceptional olfactory tolerance levels.

But Monterey’s harbor has not seen a problem since 1995, when sardines died off and yucked up the marina. In early 1997, the city spent about $100,000 to install the aerators.

“It was absolutely horrible,” Scheiblauer said, saying about 400 to 500 tons of fish were sent to a landfill.

On Wednesday night, part-time harbor employee A.J. Young dropped a camera into the water to see if he could find the fish. The video shows legions of them, packed gill to gill. A few sardines have also joined the mob.

Recent slack tides haven’t helped, but those are expected to change in the coming days. Scheiblauer said normal tides could signal the end of the siege.

“The tides will improve into more spring tides, real highs and real lows, and so that’ll help the oxygen in the water naturally,” he said.

mackerelWatch the video —

Read the original post: Monterey Herald

Apr 23 2015

Sardines are gone, long live the mackerel, with six recipes

ii7ccskn-recipe-dbMackerel baked with bay and lemon | Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

 *corrected figures of jack mackerel catch

There will be no California sardines in the market this summer. But, as much as we’ll miss them, that’s probably a good thing.

Monday the Pacific Fishery Management Council, the group responsible for setting catch limits for California fishermen, closed the sardine fishery completely, citing a 91% drop in sardine population. Beginning July 1, there will be no sardines caught from Mexico to British Columbia.

Although this may conjure up visions of Cannery Row and earlier sardine collapses, this closure could actually be a blessing in disguise. So rather than mourning it as a disaster, use it as an opportunity to expand your fishy horizons.

Unlike many fisheries, which remain relatively steady from year to year if managed properly, sardines have always been extremely cyclical — even before fishermen started catching them. Scientists analyzing ocean bed sediment have found evidence of sardine population collapses dating at least 1,700 years.

The most famous of these, of course, came in the 1940s and 1950s and drove the many Monterey Bay sardine canners out of business (inadvertently paving the way decades later for a terrific aquarium and tourist enclave).

In the 1930s, California fishermen caught as much as 700,000 tons of sardines; by the mid 1960s that had plummeted to only 1,000 tons. But just as people began talking about possible extinction, the fish came roaring back. As recently as 2012, there were nearly 100,000 tons caught.

The difference between then and now is that today there is a strong enough fisheries management program to at least minimize the human influence on this natural cycle. Sardines may come and go, but if fishermen keep catching them, they can turn a downturn into a disaster — as happened in Monterey. Closing the fishery is a way to let the population recover.

If you’re a sardine lover, though, what are you to do? First, you may still see imported sardines at Japanese fish markets such as Mitsuwa and Marukai, though they’ll probably be a little more expensive.

Perhaps a better solution is to swing with the cycle. Fish folk have long known that sardine and mackerel populations ebb and flow complementarily — when sardines are plentiful, mackerel tend to be scarce, and vice versa.

And sure enough, just as the jack mackerel catch off California crashed a couple of years ago (in 2011, only 60 tons were caught), the last few years have seen a tremendous rebound. In 2013, the last year for which statistics are available, almost 900 tons were caught.

Mourn the sardine, certainly, but take this opportunity to embrace the mackerel. Here’s six recipes to get you started.

Read the original post:

Jun 12 2013

Harvard study finds eating tuna, mackerel, swordfish boosts memory

Seafood News

Eating tuna could boost memory and slow age-related mental decline, say researchers from Harvard Medical School.

They looked at the diet of 6,000 women with an average age of 72 and monitored them for nearly ten years, measuring their memory and mental ability at different points.

The women who ate tuna, mackerel or swordfish once a week had significantly better verbal memory compared to women who did not regularly eat the fish. There were no links between memory and consumption of light-meat fish or shellfish. It’s thought the benefits are down to the high omega-3 content in tuna and mackerel — other studies suggest this may help boost memory.

Read the full story here.

Apr 25 2013

Lower fishing limits rejected by judge

A federal judge has rejected an environmental group’s attempt to require the government to lower its catch limits on sardines, mackerel and other forage fish off the California coast.

The organization, Oceana, claimed that the plan approved by the National Marine Fisheries Service in 2010 was based on flawed data and allowed fishing at levels that would deplete offshore populations of several species. Those fish are part of the food chain for other fish, seabirds and whales.

But U.S. District Judge Edward Chen of San Francisco said Friday that the federal agency had simply reaffirmed, or in some cases tightened, the harvesting limits it had set for the same forage species in 2000.

Chen ordered the fisheries service to reconsider its catch levels for one species, the northern anchovy, saying the agency had reopened that subject in 2010 but failed to determine the limits needed to protect the fish. That decision is required, he said, by a 1976 conservation law designed to prevent overfishing.

But Chen said it was too late to challenge the rules the agency had established in 2000 – and reaffirmed in 2010 – for the Pacific sardine, the Pacific mackerel, the jack mackerel and the market squid. Oceana also challenged the fisheries service’s conclusion that its 2010 plan would cause no ecological harm and that a full environmental study was therefore not required. But the judge said the 2010 plan “by its very terms has no negative impact.”

Read the full San Francisco Chronicle article here.