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Online Communities Foster Connections Between Buyers and Small-Scale Fisheries

Posted by on Friday, June 6th, 2014 with 8 Comments

The seafood market in the United States is dominated by international products, which means it is sometimes very difficult to determine where our seafood items came from and exactly how they were caught. Our increasingly eco-conscious society is on a growing quest to increase the traceability of our food and seafood should be at the top of our list.

small-scale fisheries

Small-scale fisheries in Nova Scotia have embraced online communities that share their seafood with buyers.
Photo credit: Flickr user Dennis Jarvis.

Many businesses and consumers are willing to pay more money for local fish from small-scale fisheries, even if those same fish can be found at the supermarket for a lower price. Seafood consumers enjoy feeling a connection with the fishery and the fishermen and knowing exactly how a fish was caught and where it was caught. “Sustainable” and “local” are labels that we love to see, but too often we can’t find. Nova Scotia and the fisheries of Atlantic Canada have demonstrated that one of the best ways for us to grow our domestic seafood market is by providing buyers with a greater connection to small-scale local fisheries. By utilizing technology and creating online communities to bring their stories and their market to buyers, these small-scale fisheries can support themselves and their families, support the economy of their local communities and increase their sense of ownership over their products and their livelihoods.

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Communication Guide: Answering Customer Questions about Seafood and Climate Change

Posted by on Wednesday, June 4th, 2014 with 0 Comments

How will climate change affect the seafood we eat?

Some (if not all) of us in the seafood industry have been posed with challenging questions from our customers. We are well-prepared to answer the more typical inquiries – where does it come from, how was it caught, which wine pairs best with which fillet – but now consumers are taking a vested interest in a more complicated topic, one that is not so easily explained. The words “climate change” have swept across our nation, hinting that many aspects of our lives are going to be affected.

climate change

Consumers will begin to ask more questions about climate change and seafood as new science emerges.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Takashi Hososhima

If you serve seafood to your clients, you must be prepared for this inevitable question. Scientists are only just beginning to understand how climate change is going to affect seafood, but we do know that it will be affected. Consumers hear this, but it is not an easy concept to understand. They will come to us to answer their questions, especially those of us in the sustainable seafood industry. We care about our oceans, therefore we must stay informed about climate change and how it will affect the industry, and, ultimately, our customers.

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A New Shellfish Hatchery in Puget Sound is Making Waves in Restoration, Research, and Economic Improvement

Posted by on Monday, June 2nd, 2014 with 0 Comments

When advancements are made in the field of aquaculture, the entirety of the seafood industry has reason to celebrate. Aquaculture is the avenue by which we will be able to feed a growing population (i.e. our hungry customers!) without increasing fishing pressures on wild populations. But the future of aquaculture lies in being able to support healthy marine ecosystems while creating jobs and stimulating local economies. Not all areas of aquaculture meet these criteria – but when they do, the results are amazing.

shellfish

Shellfish are vital for healthy ecosystems and economies in Puget Sound.
Image courtesy of Flickr user hj_west

On May 22, 2014, a brand new shellfish restoration hatchery opening event took place on the shores of Puget Sound in Washington. Federal, state, tribal, and local representatives celebrated at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Kenneth K. Chew Center for Shellfish Research and Restoration. A shellfish hatchery may not seem to be the hottest news on the press, but in actuality it is something that every seafood lover in the nation should rejoice. This hatchery will help create jobs, stimulate the economy for coastal communities, improve the environment, and mark the beginning of a new era in aquaculture on U.S. shores. Let’s see how this one little hatchery is going to accomplish this impressive list.

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Boundary Expansion for National Marine Sanctuaries in California Will Help Protect Marine Ecosystems, Foster Healthy Fisheries

Posted by on Friday, May 30th, 2014 with 6 Comments

In the entire United States, we have 14 special areas of the ocean and the Great Lakes that we’ve deemed necessary to protect. California alone is home to four of these National Marine Sanctuaries, with our stretch of Pacific ocean containing some of the most productive and diverse ecosystems of any coastline in the world. Cordell Bank, the Gulf of the Farallones, and Monterey Bay NMS protect these amazing ecosystems and ensure that they will continue to thrive, providing our coastal communities with jobs in fisheries and ecotourism.

national marine sanctuary

The waters just offshore from Point Arena support some of the most nutrient dense and productive ecosystems in the world.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Iris

Now we are in the process of expanding the borders of Cordell Bank and the Gulf of the Farallones with a proposal that would more than double their size if the plan is approved. The proposed sanctuary expansion was initiated by public interest to prevent oil and gas exploration along the north coast, but the plan has been met with resistance from people concerned about commercial and recreational fishing restrictions. In actuality, the boundary expansion would ensure that these extremely productive coastal waters would be protected from harmful human activities, making it beneficial for local fisheries. These protected areas have a trickle-down effect for consumers, allowing them to keep their favorite local seafood items in stock at local markets and restaurants.

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Norwegian Company SalMar Intends to Build a Revolutionary New Offshore Salmon Farm

Posted by on Wednesday, May 28th, 2014 with 7 Comments

Seafood offers one of the healthiest forms of protein, with most options being low in fat and high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. We are in definite need of optimal seafood sources to feed our growing population. Fish and shellfish are the last commercially-harvest wild animals – we’ve simply domesticated everything else. There has been a huge increase in the demand for farmed seafood over the last several decades, but aquaculture has presented a grab-bag of unique challenges.

farmed salmon

The Norwegion company SalMar intends to build a new offshore farm that may revolutionize the way we farm salmon.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Natalie Maynor

Salmon are by far and large one of our favorite seafood items; taste, texture, and health benefits come to a beautiful agreement within a salmon fillet, and seafood lovers have an insatiable appetite for it. Our demand for salmon has been the foundation for a massive growth in the farmed salmon business. Even more than other species, salmon are singularly difficult to farm and the aquaculture industry has a long way to go before it can produce salmon fillets that meet the green list requirements. SalMar, one of the largest salmon farming companies in the world, is bound and determined to overcome these challenges and rise to the top as a leader in exciting and innovative ways to improve farmed salmon.

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Fog Harbor Fish House Offers Visitors a Spectacular Dining Experience with 100% Sustainable Seafood

Posted by on Monday, May 26th, 2014 with 2 Comments

People travel from all over the world to experience the rich culture of San Francisco. As a city perched right on the cusp of the ocean, San Francisco has a historic love affair with seafood deeply intertwined with our colorful culture. Fisherman’s Wharf is one of the most popular sights in the city and millions of people have walked its pathways bordered by water.

Eco-friendly San Francisco is gaining momentum in the sustainable seafood industry. We attract people – both residents and visitors – who care about the environment and who demand seafood options sourced with environmentally friendly methods, and restaurants are listening. As the first restaurant in Fishermen’s Wharf to offer 100% sustainable seafood, the Fog Harbor Fish House offers diners beautiful views and a guilt-free menu chock full of delicious sustainable seafood options. Bob Partrite, Chief Operating Officer for Simco Restaurants, gives us an insight into the motivation and commitment behind becoming certified by the Seafood Watch Program.

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A Successful Scorecard: Science-Based Management for U.S. Fisheries is Rebuilding Stocks

Posted by on Wednesday, May 14th, 2014 with 0 Comments

It’s important for a business or industry to have a scorecard to show just how successful – or unsuccessful- they were during any given year. Some may showcase profit margins while others highlight specific triumphant events. Right now, United States fisheries have a great scorecard that reflects growing achievement every year in terms of recovering overexploited stocks.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a report that basically scores the success of our fisheries. The Status of Stocks 2013 annual report for Congress provides an exciting look into the nations improving fisheries status and has us anticipating much more recovery. And the reason behind our success? Science! This report provides proof that our science-based management system for fisheries is effective at rebuilding stocks and protecting the marine environment. Such good news is a reason for everyone involved in the seafood industry – from the fishermen down to the consumer – to rejoice.

Researchers participating in the Fish Survey Project in the Channel Islands pause to pose for a photo.
Image courtesy of NOAA’s Photo Library via Flickr

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Proposed Fisheries Modeling Project Uses NASA Technology – Looks Both Promising and Foreboding for Seafood Industry

Posted by on Friday, May 9th, 2014 with 0 Comments

Over a span of the last 60 years, advances in technology have remarkably increased the efficiency of the seafood industry. Our fishing boats now have top-notch high-powered engines, GPS, sonar capability, and exceptionally effective fishing gear. This technology has been excellent in some respects and terrible in others. It has allowed us to augment our effectiveness at catching finfish and shellfish, meeting consumer demand and sustaining our fishermen’s livelihoods. On the other hand, it has also made us too efficient and has lent to our tendency to overfish certain species.

Advances in navigation and fishing gear technology have made many of our fishing fleets extremely effective at pulling in their catch – which can be both a good and bad thing.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Joseph Novak

Two research institutions in Maine have partnered up and want to use technology from NASA to track movements of certain commercial species, the most important being the Maine lobster. The Gulf of Main Research Institute and the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences are vying for a grant that would allow them to develop models for real-time estimates of locations of fish and invertebrates in the Gulf of Maine. The models would use Earth-system data (such as satellites) and reported observations from fishermen and researchers. It sounds like this opportunity would create a fantastic tool for fishermen and researchers; however, as with all new advances in technology, we must be wary that we use it in a way that benefits both us and ocean health.

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A Leader in Eco-Friendly Living, San Francisco Restaurants Stand as Models for Providing Sustainable Seafood Options

Posted by on Wednesday, May 7th, 2014 with 1 Comments

Over the last several decades San Francisco has been a prominent leader of establishing environmentally friendly lifestyles for urban populations. Our beautiful city has made composting and recycling a standard. We banned plastic bags from our grocery stores and plastic bottles from being sold on city property. We stock our shelves with organic and sustainable products, and we love to support local businesses. San Francisco’s residents are proud to be green, a value that makes us a role model for other cities striving for eco-evolution.

It only makes sense that more of our restaurants, cafes and eateries are joining the eco-friendly bandwagon. In a city of people who love the environment, many businesses won’t last unless they show how committed they are to providing environmentally friendly products. Our consumer standards for ethically and environmentally conscious consumption reach everything from produce, grains, rice, meats, and now, increasingly, seafood. San Francisco has the opportunity – perhaps the obligation – to serve as a role model for a city that fights to protect our oceans.

SF skyline viewed from Begind GG Bridge

San Francisco is a leader in establishing environmentally friendly lifestyles for urbanites.
Image source: Flickr user peddhapati

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Wetland Restoration Creates Jobs, and Provides Ecological, Economic, and Social Benefits

Posted by on Monday, May 5th, 2014 with 7 Comments

Urban development is an essential process for United States as our population increases and communities grow. The coastline in particular draws us with it’s aesthetic beauty and the economic potential created by bodies of water. We have a curious desire for waterfront property, and we are willing to pay top dollar for it. Coastlines can create vibrant and profitable communities – the San Francisco Bay Area is a perfect example.

wetlands

Wetlands provide extremely important ecological and economic benefits, a fact more people are beginning to recognize.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Nicholas A. Tonelli.

Yet coastal urban development comes at a price that we are just now beginning to understand. Our coastlines are lined with wetlands, beautiful expanses of uniquely adapted plants and animals that play a vital ecological role. As the human population increases, the acreage of coastal wetlands decreases. A recent report has outlined how restoring our wetlands not only helps keep coastal ecosystems healthy, but also provides immense economic and social benefits for coastal communities. By investing money to protect and restore wetlands, we can create jobs and better help protect our own cities.

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