Sunday May 19, 2013
Shrimping In Terrebonne Parish
It's shrimping season in Louisana. That's always an excellent sight to see, for the simple reason that the area is inching toward a recovery from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
The season began May 13. In Dulac, boats are headed out, others are coming in, all in the search for shrimp. The season for the Terrebonne Basin opened at 6 a.m.
Terrebonne Parish produces the largest amount of shrimp by volume in the state, and the populations look good this year. The Terrebonne Basin and Vermillion Bay areas are the first state waters to open this year. The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission set the dates after studying the brown shrimp population.
The brown shrimp season generally runs through June, then the boats head back out in August for white shrimp. Some commercial fishermen can make all their money for the year in less than six months.
Based on a report from Carolyn Scofield of WVUE.
Thursday May 16, 2013
Seeks to corner market
Thanks to a drop in American farmed catfish production, China is making a determined and deliberate effort to fill the void.
American channel catfish production has dropped, naturally leaving a decline in shipments of American channel catfish. Countries that import catfish from America cannot satisfy its market demands, so China has a new marketing target, including eastern European countries, Mexico, Russia, Middle Eastern countries, African countries and South America.
According to Chinese reports current annual processing of channel catfish amounts to 150,000 to 200,000 tons, with live fish sales at 100,000 tons. However, a low world economy, domestic protection of the catfish industry and American food safety codes will prevent Chinese fish from entering the states.
China also has some problems of their own. Their catfish, descendents of American channel catfish, are small, slow growing and disease-prone because of "high culturing density and lack of culturing standardization" according to the report.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, China's total cultured catfish production was estimated at 610,000 tons in 2012, a lift from 598,000 tons in 2011. However, farmed catfish output for export is poor in the U.S. because of import policies.
China will face still competition from Vietnam's basa fish a.k.a. catfish, one of the most exported seafood items, farmed in the Mekong River. While Vietnamese fish farmers have drawn criticism for feed and antibiotic use, the pollution in Chinese rivers challenges future output there.
Monday May 13, 2013
Where the deer and the tilapia play
Due to changing standards in the poultry industry, several Texas chicken farms were left teetering on the brink, but some innovative thinking might have saved a number of companies.
A great case study in being flexible and willing to consider all options is the story of Van Vaught and East Texas Tilapia. Just the name alone should earn him (and partners Jim Reed and Don Walker), extra credit. All were at one time in the dairy business until the big conglomerates took over, as they so often do. Next was chicken farming where they had a good run, but new standards meant cough up another half-million or else. The same could be said for many others in the industry.
The group ended up ripping down all their equipment and using the parts to build an aquaculture facility. Their first step was to build an aquaponics and aquaculture tank with both fish and vegetables, where the nutrient-rich water circulated, was filtered, then oxygenated by the vegetables before returning to the tanks. Soon it was only fish.
They then built a fish hatchery by converting their first tank and building others, expanding to a second chicken house and installing four new, 80,000 gallon fiberglass tanks and a massive filtration system.
What makes this story great is that East Texas Tilapia now wants to share what they've done with other industries that were in their place. We applaud their cleverness and willingness to help others who are in the dilemma they once were.
Thursday May 9, 2013
NOAA report ignores disaster declaration
Unbelievably, last week NOAA released its annual status of the fish stocks 2012 in the Northeast, saying that there has been significant progress to end overfishing and rebuild fish stocks.
But on second thought, they're probably correct; it's easy to claim large gains when you enforce drastic cuts on the allowable catch limits for most species. The best way to increase stock is to eliminate the independent fisherman.
The report self-congratulates NOAA for ending overfishing in the Northeast for windowpane flounder and yellowtail. The report stresses that of the 446 stocks managed by NOAA, 10 more were no longer subject to overfishing, the biomass of four other stocks have been rebuilt to the point that they are no longer considered overfished, and six other stocks were totally rebuilt.
The report makes NOAA look real good to Congress, right around budget time, to boot. But war will start soon, when in a three-day conference in Washington, D.C. next week, the eight fishery management councils will commence its reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. But as outlined in a report by MSNBC last year, NOAA's budget was criticized by Congress last year because NOAA made unauthorized shifts of $43.8 million, including bonuses and extensions to contractors.
But this year, as of May 1, historic cuts of cod and yellowtail flounder were more than 60 percent of the last year's limits. Cuts in allowable landings of to 78 percent cut for Gulf of Maine cod went into effect May 1, with another two years under the same limits scheduled. In September 2012, the acting Commerce Secretary declared the fishery an "economic disaster." Financial relief for the industry died in the U.S. House at the end of the last year, and the president did not mention the disaster in his budget request for the new fiscal year.
Just another example of the federal government violating its own laws.