Friday, October 25, 2013

Red Snapper Quota Is Working

You might start seeing more American red snapper offered during the winter months going forward.  The true American reds are renown for being one of the tastiest snapper species and also one of the more costly.  Now they will also be known for being one of the most sustainable.  I just received an update from commercial fisherman and biologist Tim Sughrue and here's what he had to say.

"In yet another shining example of a proper fishery management success story, the National Marine Fisheries Service has just increased the remaining 2013 quota for domestic Genuine American Red Snapper by one million pounds.  That makes the Total Allowable Catch (for commercial gear) 5.3 million pounds in 2013.  The additional million pounds will be added to the 2014 quota also.

Why did NMFS do this?  Well, within the National Marine Fisheries Service, there is a committee called the Science and Statistics Committee.  The committee finished a Gulf red snapper stock assessment in June.  They recommended a 21 day extension of the recreational fishery in the Gulf and a one million pound increase to the commercial catch.  This is a great example of how an overfished resource can rebound quickly under proper stewardship.  At its low point the total red snapper quota (recreational & commercial) for the Gulf was only 3 million pounds (2006).  Today, the combined total red snapper harvest is almost 11 million pounds."

I couldn't have said it better.  Here's what a properly managed fishery can do for our resources.  Enjoy red snapper now, guilt free.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Government Shutdown Affecting Crabbers

The government shutdown is not only affecting businesses within the D.C. area dramatically, it is also responsible for shutting down one of Alaska's most sustainable and notable fisheries.  The Alaskan king crab fishery was supposed to open this week, but will not due to the Fed's shutdown.  The Federal agents responsible for setting the individual quotas for the fishery, a system that enables the fishery to remain a sustainable one, are out of work due to the politically charged stoppage.  Fishermen were interviewed at the docks yesterday in Alaska and in typical maritime fashion, they had some colorful things to say.   

I don't know about you, but I simply love fresh Alaskan crab legs.  I urge that if you see any politicians out having fun this week remind them that its a short season to get these great crabs, so they need to get back to work.  In all seriousness, I hope there is a resolution soon.  Fishermen's livelihoods are at stake, many depend on the lucrative winter king crab season to get them through the rest of the year.  It's not just a running joke for The Daily Show now, people who depend on the government for employment are really beginning to feel the effects and desperately need to get back to work.  Let's hope we are able to get some fresh Alaskan crab soon.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Call To Expecting Moms: Try More Fish

I wanted to share an article I recently came across that calls into question whether or not the advice given to expecting Mothers on fish consumption is accurate.  Right now expecting mothers are warned against eating seafood during pregnancy by U.S. official guidelines, but research by the University of Bristol is proving that this might not be a valid concern.  The research found that fish accounted for 7 percent of the blood mercury levels in the 4,000 plus women examined in their study.  Such a small percentage posed no harmful risk to any of the women.

A Europe-wide project known as Nutrimenthe studied the affects of eating a heavy diet of oily fish on pregnant women and discovered that the fish diet resulted in better behaved and healthier children.  Oily fish had positive affects for the 18,000 children involved in the study, citing that the iodine in fish appeared to improve reading skills by age nine and that the healthy omegas aided in brain development.

I have recently posted an article about the mercury issue and the inaccuracies commonly believed by the public concerning links between seafood and mercury poisoning.  Considering the results of these latest studies combined with what we are discovering about fish and mercury content, I think it is time to review the official guidelines concerning seafood consumption, not just for pregnant women, but for everyone.  It is becoming clear that eating a healthy diet of seafood, at least three times a week, is a good idea for all of us.  With the latest evidence, I would have to recommend putting down the hamburger and trying a sardine.
    (oily fish include sardines, anchovies, mackerel, mullet, char, wild salmon, and small bluefish)

Friday, October 4, 2013

Farmed Salmon Article

The recent Washington Post article highlighted the progress that salmon farms have made in the last few years in producing salmon while reducing the negative environmental effects of the process.  I was happy to see that light was being shed into the world of aquaculture and how it's not the enemy to sustainable seafood.  If aquaculture is done right, farmed seafood can offer consumers affordable, healthy protein while taking some pressures off of wild stocks.

Though I wished the article had emphasized the importance of eating seafood such as salmon in general, I am happy that it educated the public about positive changes happening in the salmon industry, albeit briefly.  I was not ready for the backlash though, especially in the comment section, that followed.

Lets get some things straight.  Salmon farming is not a totally sustainable production at this second, but there are farms such as Verlasso, True North, and Skuna Bay that are making great strides.  Such great strides that I would be willing to bet that some farmed salmon will be rated 'green' within the next five years.  It's a pretty safe bet considering Monterey Bay Aquarium already rates Verlasso 'yellow', one step below 'green'.  Consuming conscientiously farmed salmon is good for you, and tasty according to the Post' article.  Farmed salmon should not be considered at odds with wild salmon.  Wild salmon are a great source of healthy protein and their importance to our environment should never be overlooked.  But there are only so many wild salmon that we can take out of the water sustainably.  Feeding a growing population with a growing seafood demand is a daunting task to place on a natural resource that is subject to the unforgiving cycles of nature.  There's just simply not enough wild salmon to feed everyone.  Is that not the point of setting quotas in the first place, to protect the wild stocks?  Farmed salmon should be viewed as filling in the gaps that wild salmon leave between meals and seasons, not as opposition to wild harvest.

The Washington Post article is good news for everyone, whether you eat wild salmon, farmed salmon, or no salmon.  Farming salmon is becoming a sustainable process.  Companies are finally figuring it out.  There are issues with farming salmon, but the answer is to continue to make it better, not give up.  It's just too good a protein to give up.  Consumers give a damn about the food that they eat and how the environment is affected by the processes that get it to their plate.  We the consumers have put enough pressure on big salmon companies to come up with better methods of farming, and shockingly, they are finally listening.  This is progress.  You can find faults with salmon farms still, sure.  But the fact that the farmers are listening and continuing to work on producing a better product, better for your health and the environment's, is a net positive.