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Is NOAA labeling necessary?

Sunday April 13, 2014

NOAA, which cannot afford monitors, wants in on the labeling business

NOAA has announced in April 2014 that it was seeking comments on a proposal to establish its own certification program, complete with labeling.The proposed program appears to offer labeling at the buyer level but not for consumers


According to SeafoodSource, NOAA Fisheries Deputy Administrator Sam Rauch said they are taking comments until April 30, 2014. American seafood producers already have the option of seeking certification and labeling from a number of private groups, including:

the Marine Stewardship Council MSC
Friend of the Sea
The Alaska-based Responsible Fisheries Management program.

While many of these groups have reserved comment until NOAA says more about what it has in mind, many told SeafoodSource they questioned whether NOAA needed such a program, and whether having one would matter much on the international level. Some believe it would be seen not as an independent operation.

The director of media relations for the National Fisheries Institute said NOAA already has a worldwide reputation for accuracy, and a NOAA-sponsored program would gain more traction in international markets.

Others, however, question whether a sustainability certification program from NOAA would be necessary given the existence of the other programs.

"They're essentially already doing that, and we're paying for it, it's just promoting that's been missing from the equation," he said.

NFI was unsure if it would be planning on submitting a comment. The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, which oversees the RFM program, also was unsure whether his group would participate. Friend of the Sea would be submitting comments. The MSC declined to discuss the matter directly with SeafoodSource.

News by SeafoodSource

Cape Ann Seafood Exchange

Thursday April 10, 2014

Cape Ann Seafood Exchange, April 2014

The Buyers And Sellers Exchange (BASE), an electronic auctioning company that sells landings at owner Whaling City Seafood Display Auction in New Bedford, Boston's Whaling City Auction, and Gloucester's Whaling City Auction, handled 21,400 pounds of fish March 31.

Top species landed and average prices were:

Ocean perch (redfish): 6,000 pounds (85 cents)
Small greysole: 3,000 pounds ($2.04)
Skate wings: 2,500 pounds ($1.30)
Market cod: 2,200 pounds ($2.12)
Mixed yellowtail: 2,000 pounds ($1.56)
The Portland, Maine, Display Auction handled 4,300 pounds of fish March 27.

Data by the National Marine Fisheries Service

Japanese whale market plummets

Monday April 7, 2014

Reflects impacts of protesters

As of April 2014, is is clear that residents of Japan are becoming disinterested in whale meat.

The whale meat stockpile has nearly doubled over the last 10 years, despite the fact that annual catches have decreased over the same amount of time. Over 2,300 minke whales worth of meat - try to envision that - is sitting in freezers while whalers still plan to catch another 1,300 whales each year.

Low demand adds to the uncertainty that looms ahead of an International Court of Justice ruling on Japan's whaling in the Antarctic Ocean. The whaling is for "research," but Australia has argued it's a cover for commercial hunts.

The number of whale meat distributors and processors declined by half between 1999 and 2012. Distributors say the meat is unpopular because of the high price and negative image, thus Japan's government-subsidized whaling program is sinking deeper into debt. The research program began a year after an international ban on commercial hunting took effect. Japan, Norway and Iceland continue to hunt whales despite the moratorium.

Whale meat not used "for study" is sold as food in Japan. According to fisheries agency statistics, the amount of whale meat stockpiled in freezers is about 4,600 tons at the end of 2012, from less than 2,500 tons in 2002. The Sea Shepherd's efforts to harass whaling ships have kept the stockpile from growing.

Whale meat supplied half of Japan's protein needs 50 years ago, but today it's limited to specialty restaurants and school lunches in most of the country. It is a bigger part of the local diet in several coastal whaling towns that are allowed to conduct small-scale coastal whaling outside of International Whaling Commission oversight.

Information by Associated Press

Exxon Valdez Spill Effects Still Present

Friday March 28, 2014

At the time it happened, the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska was the nation's largest oil spill.

On March 24, 1989, the 987-foot tanker, carrying 53 million gallons of crude oil, struck Bligh Reef. Within hours, an estimated 10.8 million gallons of thick, gross crude oil poured into the water. Storms and currents then spread it over 1,300 miles of shoreline.

For a generation, the spill contaminated the coastline in Prince William Sound. Animals such as sea otters, herring and birds were soaked in oil, and workers washed crude off the rugged beaches of rock by hand.


Twenty five years later, many in the area are still struggling with the spill.

According to fisherman Bernie Culbertson, fishing came to a standstill and life for fishermen drastically changed. Prices crashed for Alaskan fish for fear of eating toxic fish and consumers turned to farm fish or tuna out of fear of tainted salmon. Exxon compensation checks, minus what fishermen earned on spill work, arrived too late for many. His opinion is that shrimp are slowly coming back while crab and herring have yet to return. Only salmon are back.

Spill response drills are now commonplace and spill equipment is increased. About 400 local fishing boat owners are trained to deploy and maintain booms.

After the spill, the herring population crashed. It is now listed as "not recovering." Because it is eaten by salmon, seabirds and marine mammals from otters to whales, it has a large effect on the ecosystem.Adult herring feed on zooplankton, which crashed for three years after the spill. With less to eat, herring may have been more susceptible to disease normally fended off within a herring population. Responders estimated that as many as 3,000 sea otters died the first year. Hundreds more died in the years after of exposure to oil that persisted in sediment, where otters dig for clams. The U.S. Geological Survey study released in February 2014, concludes that sea otters have finally returned to pre-spill numbers.

Associated Press / Anchorage Daily News

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