Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Agency Allows Unsafe Levels of Contaminants in Seafood

The FDA's science in seafood safety was flawed according to a NRDC study. They found that FDA’s calculation of allowable levels of contaminants in seafood, after BP's 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, was based on outdated science. As a result, FDA’s “safe levels” were not safe for vulnerable populations. More reason to enhance our food safety regulations!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Where did my tuna come from?

John West, a leading brand of canned tuna in the UK has launched an online tracker to help customers source their tuna. This is a good step toward more transparency in the fishing industry.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Salmon Farmers Against GM Salmon

Nick Joy is Managing Director of Loch Duart, an independent salmon farm in Northwest Scotland. His post on The Huffington Post is a great example of the uncertainty of producing genetically engineered salmon from many sectors including the industry itself.


Monday, October 18, 2010

The Anti-Farmed Salmon

Barramundi is now being called the "The Anti-Salmon: A Fish We Can Finally Farm Without Guilt". They are born in the sea and migrate to fresh waters as adults, the reverse of a salmon's life cycle. Huge gills enable them to live in oxygen-deficient water. And best of all, they have the rare ability to transform vegetarian feed into sought-after omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon require as much as three pounds of fish-based feed to put on a pound of meat, some Barramundi need only a half pound. 

Farmed salmon live in net pens in the open ocean. Net pens not only pollute, but spread diseases and parasites to passing wild fish. Barramundi is being farmed in recirculating systems on land, where the problems of salmon farming do not occur.

Here is a great example of how we can farm seafood in a sustainable way and complement our wild fish. By not using tons of fish meal as feed and using land based recirculating systems we remove the risks overfishing, disease and escapement problems that many open ocean systems have.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

CA Sustainable Seafood Initiative

I am headed to Moss Landing tomorrow to attend the third meeting of California Sustainable Seafood Initiative (CSSI). This meeting should finally get down to the nitty gritty of how the panel will decide to label sustainable seafood in California. There are many other programs already in place that attempt to do this around this world, MSC, Gulf of Maine, Iceland, Alaska. I am excited to see which direction CA will head in.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Four Fish

I just finished reading Four Fish by Paul Greenberg and thought it was an engaging account of how we have managed some of our most important fisheries. It was most intriguing to see how the four main seafood products around the world -  salmon, sea bass, cod and tuna have all been poorly managed and ended up as farmed products which then in turn have also been poorly managed. Our wild fisheries have systematically collapsed around the world and now are creating a market and an industry of farmed seafood that is based on continuing to fish down the food web and pollute our waters. While we should be focusing on supplementing wild fisheries with products that won't further degrade our ecosystem.

Taking fish out of the ocean to feed farmed fish, just doesn't make any sense. And Paul Greenberg illustrates this very well. We must reconsider the species we select for farming. Aquaculture is critical in our seafood production and we have the opportunity to make it "right". We should use species that are selected for their success in an aquacultured environment and use a system that protects the wild species around it.

And don't get me started on genetically modified salmon...

Friday, October 8, 2010

Too many salmon??

Simon Fraser University scientists say a population explosion of hatchery and wild salmon in the North Pacific Ocean is leading hatchery fish to beat out their wild cousins for food. Few people understand the complexities of salmon and where they come from, but recent research is showing we need to pay more attention. In some regions, hatchery salmon dominate (50% of total or more) wild fish. In Asia salmon hatcheries produce 76% of all adult chum salmon. 

Most people don't realize how important hatcheries are to wild salmon production. And some are even questioning labeling wild salmon born in hatcheries as such.

Here in California many of the hatcheries were developed to mitigate for loss of salmon habitat. A combination of water diversions, pollution runoff and poor hatchery management has led to a collapse of California salmon. If what is happening in the North Pacific is any indicator, we need to make aggressive moves to reform our hatcheries now.