Thursday November 28, 2013
Could be worse next year
Cleanup projects across Alaska are ending for the year due to the winter weather. The cleanup program is run by the Alaska Marine Stewardship Foundation, which reported 160,000 to 200,000 pounds were removed this year alone.
Cleaning the debris is one matter but disposing and /or recycling it is quite another. It's a tremendous amount and many rural landfills cannot handle the additional material.
AMSF had been working with a recycler in Washington State for many years, but they are not currently accepting shipments due to poor markets for the materials. AMSF is conducting a pilot project with another recycling non-profit this fall.
Reports of debris arriving from the March 2011 Japanese tsunami decreased this year but at one site at Cape Suckling the contractor reported a large influx of debris following storms the week of Oct. 21. Large amounts of household items with Japanese writing on them appeared on the beach that just been cleared of approximately 55,000 pounds of garbage. Debris from the tsunami will continue to arrive on Alaska's shores for years to come, and experts predict 2014 will be when deep water, current driven debris really starts hitting US shores.
Report from TheFishSite News Desk
Tuesday November 26, 2013
Tilapia, Number 4, is raised on number 2
According to a U.S. Fisheries report, shrimp, canned tuna and salmon topped the list of the 10 most popular seafoods. That's according to the National Fisheries Institute which compiles the list each year based on data from the government's US Fisheries Report.
Following the top three are , Pangasius, crab, cod, catfish and clams.
A closer look shows that for the first time in five years, crab consumption began to increase again after a steady decline since 2007. The biggest trend revealed in the top 10 list is that "whitefish" surpassed shrimp as the largest single seafood category. Whitefish consists of cod, pollock, tilapia, Pangasius and domestic catfish. Combined consumption of those fish increased 6.2 per cent, while shrimp fell a very significant 9.5 per cent.
As a result, whitefish as a category now is higher than shrimp in terms of per capita consumption. The growth in whitefish is driven by farmed tilapia and Pangasius. Cod saw a small increase, while pollock and domestic catfish declined.
Also declining - Americans ate slightly less seafood overall last year at 14.6 pounds per person, compared to 15 pounds in 2011. One bright note: Each person ate just over two pounds of salmon, a 3.5 per cent increase.
Americans eat close to 500 million pounds of farmed tilapia a year, according to the USDA, more than four times the amount they ate a decade ago. More than 80 percent of the bland tasting fish comes from China, with Thailand also exporting significant tonnage to the US. What most Americans don't know is that farmed tilapia from those countries are given large amounts of antibiotics to ward off infections from manure, which is used as a cheap alternative to fish feed.
According to the Center for Food Safety, it is a common practice to use untreated chicken manure as the primary nutrition. In some farms, coops are placed over the water and the chickens poop directly into the fish ponds.
Similarly, an October article in Bloomberg's titled "Asian seafood raised on pig feces approved for U.S. consumers," 27 per cent of seafood consumed in the US comes from China, yet the FDA only inspects 2.7 per cent of the imports.
Pangasius is a type of Asian catfish, and is usually seen on supermarket shelves as basa. Roughly 90 per cent of the fish is farmed in Viet Nam, and is the most monitored of all farmed fish, according to SeafoodSource.
Sunday November 24, 2013
Second only to lobster
According to a recent statement, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has said that Maine's salmon-heavy aquaculture industry is second only to lobster in terms of the fishery's total value.
Almost 10 years after Maine's salmon-farming industry tanked, the aquaculture industry is continuing to rebound and has become more diverse than it was when it consisted solely of Atlantic salmon.
According to NOAA Fisheries, Maine's aquaculture had a value last year of $81 million. That's more than double the $38 million value of the ever-popular elvers. Last year, Maine's lobster catch was valued at a record $341 million. The Maine Aquaculture Association said the industry is in better shape now than before the crash because of new salmon aquaculture practices and a greater variety of aquaculture offerings, with shellfish now accounting for roughly 20 percent of the value of the catch and freshwater trout now being raised in Maine.
There's also been an influx of younger people into the industry- most of them displaced commercial fishermen.
Ten years ago the salmon industry had about 1,200 workers, but crashed because of fish disease, the pullout of companies using Norwegian strains of salmon following an endangered species listing for wild salmon, and a federal judge's ruling that several salmon operations violated the Clean Water Act.
New Brunswick-based Cooke Aquaculture came into the state and reopened salmon pens with new practices to control pests and disease. Meanwhile, shellfish aquaculture - mostly oysters and mussels - has been growing 10 percent each year for the past decade. The annual value ranges from about $80 million to $120 million a year. Across the Northeast, aquaculture production generates about $161 million in annual revenue, according to NOAA Fisheries.
Friday November 22, 2013
But Not Here - eating pellets is not natural
Buying organic is a lifestyle for many and the market grows bigger annually. This year, Americans are expected to buy more than $30 billion worth of organic food, from produce to meat. Now, some fish farmers want in on the market, and with it, almost unbelievably, retailers will charge consumers top dollar for "organically farmed fish."
Thankfully an organic label for aquaculture is not coming easy. For over a decade the issue has been on the agenda of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Program, but the last meeting on it was canceled by the federal government shutdown. Now federal officials are saying a final determination is at least six months away.
Environmentalists are against it because they believe fish farms shouldn't quality for an organic label if they rely heavily on feed that can't be verified as organic. But more realistically, acquacultural pollution and disease makes them less "organic" in my opinion.
Federal regulators are rewriting the rules to address the question. The NOP, National Organic Standards Board, and its own Aquaculture Working Group are developing a set of guidelines that specifically address aquaculture. They would allow up to 25 percent conventionally grown fishmeal in the diets of farmed fish certified as organic. The plan would be to slowly scale this amount down over the years. Critics say they doubt this process would occur.
To many, organic aquaculture is ridiculous. Farmed salmon are typically fed fishmeal, a ground-up paste of anchovies, menhaden and other wild-caught species, some of which come from stocks that are rapidly declining. Under existing laws there is no way to certify these wild fish as organic. To run around this the federal government is proposing to allow fish farms to use meal only from "sustainable" fish species.
The fishmeal question is likely to continue to be contentious for open-ocean fish farms. But inland fish farms could potentially be in a better position if their fish were raised in completely closed, recirculating systems that don't touch the ocean.
Meanwhile the European Union is already certifying some farmed salmon from countries like Ireland as organic.
Story concept courtesy NPR.