Tag Archive | fish

Seafood Watch: Do You Eat Sustainable Seafood?

Food sources are an important aspect of  a sustainable future for our planet. Seafood Watch is a guide for consumers when purchasing their fish — is it sustainable seafood? Authors recommend not buying fish without knowing if it is sustainable, and eating a diversity of fish to prevent one species being over fished or farmed.

Check out It’s Not Easy To Be Green for more guidance on going green!

It's Not Easy To Be Green

California Leopard Sharks Leopard Sharks. Credit: MoonSoleil

I admired the jellyfish, the octopus, and the nudibranchs, but in the end, it was the California leopard sharks that won me over. They cuddled up against the diver and nudged their heads against her arm, taking squid gently from her hand. It was the first time ever a shark had elicited an involuntary “Aww” reaction from me.

I’ve been going to the Monterey Bay Aquarium since I was eleven. (Honor roll field trips FTW!) There are arguments against keeping animals in captivity, but for me, getting up close and personal with a leafy sea dragon reminds me why I care about this planet and inspires me to keep caring.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium earnestly promotes ocean conservation, particularly through its Seafood Watch program. Overfishing is one of the most critical issues facing our ocean ecosystems, and the MBA’s Seafood Watch Pocket Guide distills…

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Judge overrules minister’s decision to open herring fishery

Commercial boats fish for herring in Baynes Sound south of Courtenay on Vancouver Island in this file photo.

B.C. First Nations won a major victory Friday when a Federal Court judge granted an injunction blocking the opening this year of a herring fishery on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

The decision came after an internal memo revealed Fisheries Minister Gail Shea overruled recommendations of scientists in her own department.

The DFO memo revealed that department experts had recommended maintaining the herring fisheries closure for the 2014 season, and that Shea had nonetheless recommended opening the fishery in three disputed areas.

The memorandum to the minister, written by the federal herring co-ordinator in Vancouver, and signed by David Bevan, the DFO’s associate deputy minister, was based on recommendations of scientists and B.C. herring managers, but ultimately rejected by Shea. In a hand-printed note alongside her signature, Shea wrote, “The minister agrees to an opening at a conservative 10-per-cent harvest rate for the 2014 fishing season.”

The decision to open the commercial herring fisheries was a surprise. Shea announced her approval of the reopening on Dec. 23. Legal action was brought by five Nuu-chah-nulth Nations on Feb. 9, and heard Feb. 21 by Judge Leonard S. Mandamin.

The commercial roe herring fisheries on the west coast of Vancouver Island have been closed over conservation concerns since 2006. The fishery was also closed between 1968 and 1971 after a complete collapse of the herring population.

Read the full story here.

Fish living near the equator will not thrive in the warmer oceans of the future

Chromis fish swim amongst coral in the Indo-Pacific, along with a Pomacentrus moluccensis (the lemon damsel). These fish are important food sources for larger coral reef fish.

According to an international team of researchers, the rapid pace of climate change is threatening the future presence of fish near the equator.

“Our studies found that one species of fish could not even survive in water just three degrees Celsius warmer than what it lives in now,” says the lead author of the study, Dr Jodie Rummer from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (Coral CoE) at James Cook University.

Dr Rummer and her colleagues studied six common species of fish living on coral reefs near the equator. She says many species in this region only experience a very narrow range of temperatures over their entire lives, and so are likely adapted to perform best at those temperatures.

This means climate change places equatorial marine species most at risk, as oceans are projected to warm by two to three degrees Celsius by the end of this century.

“Such an increase in warming leads to a loss of performance,” Dr Rummer explains. “Already, we found four species of fish are living at or above the temperatures at which they function best.”

The team measured the rates at which fish use oxygen, the fuel for metabolism, across different temperatures — at rest and during maximal performance. According to the results, at warmer temperatures fish lose scope for performance. In the wild, this would limit activities crucial to survival, such as evading predators, finding food, and generating sufficient energy to breed.

Read the full story here.

High pollutant levels in Guánica Bay ‘represent serious toxic threat’ to corals

This is an aerial view of study area, Guánica Bay, Puerto Rico.

The pollutants measured in the sediments of Guánica Bay, Puerto Rico, in a new NOAA study were among the highest concentrations of PCBs, chlordane, chromium and nickel ever measured in the history of NOAA’s National Status & Trends, a nationwide contaminant monitoring program that began in 1986.

Researchers from the National Ocean Service’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) studied the reef’s ecology to help establish baseline conditions that coastal managers can use to measure changes resulting from new efforts to manage pollution. Among the items studied were habitat types, coral cover, fish and pollution stressors such as nutrients, sedimentation, toxic contaminants in Guánica Bay.

“These concentrations of pollutants represent serious toxic threats to corals, fish and benthic fauna — bottom dwelling animal life and plants,” said David Whitall, Ph.D., the report’s principal investigator and NOAA ecologist.

Read the full story here.

Canada’s energy officials take over job of protecting fish from pipelines

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s administration has decided that the nation’s fossil-fuel-friendly energy regulators would do a better job of protecting fish in streams

Move aside, Canadian federal fisheries and oceans officials. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s administration has decided that the nation’s fossil-fuel-friendly energy regulators would do a better job of protecting fish in streams and lakes that cross paths with gas and oil pipelines. Northwest Coast Energy News has the scoop:

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has handed responsibility for fish and fish habitat along pipeline routes over to the National Energy Board. …

DFO and NEB quietly announced a memorandum of agreement on December 16, 2013, that went largely unnoticed with the release three days later of the Joint Review Panel decision on Northern Gateway and the slow down in news coverage over the Christmas holidays. …

Read the full story here.

How Plastic In The Ocean Is Contaminating Your Seafood

“A lot of people are eating seafood all the time, and fish are eating plastic all the time, so I think that’s a problem,” says a marine toxicologist.

We’ve long known that the fish we eat are exposed to toxic chemicals in the rivers, bays and oceans they inhabit. The substance that’s gotten the most attention — because it has shown up at disturbingly high levels in some fish — is .

But mercury is just one of a slew of synthetic and organic pollutants that fish can ingest and absorb into their tissue. Sometimes it’s because we’re dumping chemicals right into the ocean. But as a published recently in Nature, Scientific Reports helps illuminate, sometimes fish get chemicals from the plastic debris they ingest.

“The ocean is basically a toilet bowl for all of our chemical pollutants and waste in general,” says , a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Davis, who authored the study. “Eventually, we start to see those contaminants high up in the food chain, in seafood and wildlife.”

For many years, scientists have known that chemicals will move up the food chain as predators absorb the chemicals consumed by their prey. That’s why the biggest, fattiest fish, like tuna and swordfish, tend to have the highest levels of mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other dioxins. (And that’s concerning, given that canned tuna was the second most popular fish consumed in the U.S. in 2012, the National Fisheries Institute.)

What scientists didn’t know was exactly what role plastics played in transferring these chemicals into the food chain. To find out, Rochman and her co-authors fed medaka, a fish species often used in experiments, three different diets.

Read the full story here.

Underwater Robots Influence Complex Swimming Behaviors of Schooling Fish

Recent studies from two research teams at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly) demonstrate how underwater robots can be used to understand and influence the complex swimming behaviors of schooling fish.

These studies are the latest in a significant body of research by Porfiri and collaborators utilizing robots, specifically robotic fish, to impact collective animal behavior. In collaboration with doctoral candidate Paul Phamduy and NYU-Poly research scholar Giovanni Polverino, Porfiri designed an experiment to examine the interplay of visual cues and flow cues — changes in the water current as a result of tail-beat frequency — in triggering a live golden shiner fish to either approach or ignore a robotic fish.

They designed and built two robotic fish analogous to live golden shiners in aspect ratio, size, shape, and locomotion pattern. However, one was painted with the natural colors of the golden shiner, the other with a palette not seen in the species. The researchers affixed each robot to the inside of a water tunnel, introduced a live golden shiner fish, and observed its interactions with the robot. While the robot’s position remained static, the researchers experimented with several different tail-beat frequencies.

“When the fish encountered a robot that mimicked both the coloration and mean tail-beat frequency for the species, it was likeliest to spend the most time in the nearest proximity to it,” Porfiri said. “The more closely the robot came to approximating a fellow golden shiner, the likelier the fish was to treat it like one, including swimming at the same depth behind the robot, which yields a hydrodynamic advantage,” he explained.

Read the full story here.

New Species of Giant Amazonian Fish

These arapaima, which were photographed in a public aquarium in the Ukraine, appear to be the new species recently described by Dr. Donald Stewart of SUNY-ESF.

A new species of the giant fish arapaima has been discovered from the central Amazon in Brazil, raising questions about what other species remain to be discovered and highlighting the potential for ecological problems when animals are relocated from their native habitats.

“Everybody for 160 years had been saying there’s only one kind of arapaima. But we know now there are various species, including some not previously recognized. Each of these unstudied giant fishes needs conservation assessment,” said Dr. Donald Stewart of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF), who made the discovery.

The discovery was reported in a paper Stewart recently published in the journal Copeia.

For two centuries, arapaima have been among the most important commercial fishes in freshwaters of the Amazon. “Arapaima have high economic, cultural and scientific value, but their diversity has been overlooked for too long,” Stewart said.

Read the full story here.

There’s hope: Canada’s largest and most endangered fish spotted off Canada’s West Coas

Basking shark observed off the Brooks Peninsula on Canada’s Pacific coast in August 2013.

Seeing a basking shark in B.C. waters these days is like seeing a sasquatch. Since 1996 there have been just 13 confirmed sightings (PDF) in Canada’s Pacific waters. Basking sharks, which can grow as long as 10 metres, were once as common as a salmon. Historical accounts from the 1950s describe inlets full of hundreds of basking sharks, so plentiful they were considered a nuisance. During the 1940s to late 1960s, this shark entered into B.C. coastal waters during the spring and summer, often getting entangled in salmon fishing nets and threatening fishermen’s livelihoods. Complaints led to a government-sponsored eradication program and the sharks’ eventual demise. Even though I wrote a book about the history of basking sharks in B.C., I’ve never seen one in our coastal waters.

On August 8 off the northwest coast of Vancouver Island, researcher Wendy Szaniszlo was fortunate to observe and photograph a seven-metre long basking shark. Earlier this summer, Department of Fisheries and Oceans researchers observed a North Pacific right whale in Canadian waters, the first in over 50 years. These rare sightings give us hope that these species may yet return from the brink.

Read the full story here.

Seafood Safety

seafood-safety

Fish are a lean, low-calorie source of protein. However, some fish may contain chemicals that could pose health risks. When contaminant levels are unsafe, consumption advisories may recommend that people limit or avoid eating certain species of fish caught in certain places. Every year since 1993, the EPA has made available to the public a compendium of information on locally issued fish advisories and safe eating guidelines. This information is provided to EPA by states, U.S. territories, Indian tribes, and local governments who issue fish consumption advisories and safe eating guidelines to inform people about the recommended level of consumption for fish caught in local waters. Welcome to the EPA’s Fish Consumption Advisory website. This website is divided into two main areas: a General Advisory Information area and a Technical Advisory Information area. Click here for more information.