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Fish Aggregating Devices: A Powerful Conservation Tool if Used in the Right Way

Posted by on Wednesday, March 5th, 2014 with 6 Comments

There is a simple formula to establish a sustainable fishery. We must identify the problem areas – overfishing, habitat damage, bycatch – and employ proper management procedures that address these concerns. It’s clear, direct, and effective, yet extremely complex. It requires communication and cooperation between fishermen, scientists, and regulating agencies. Time and money need to be invested to discover alternative fishing methods, implement regulation procedures, and perform stock assessments.

This is why, even when issues are discovered, it takes quite some time to do something about it, and why there are still many unsustainable fisheries out there that are harming our oceans and depleting our seafood supply. Often these efforts must take place over international boundaries, which cause us to enter an entirely new arena of troubles. But surprisingly, the issues may also provide insight in possible solutions to protecting species.

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Rising Ocean Temperatures: Smaller Fish Will Impact Fisheries and Ecosystems Unless Humans Learn to Adapt

Posted by on Monday, March 3rd, 2014 with 4 Comments

If you love seafood, it is likely that you keep a watchful eye on current events that may impact our world’s fisheries. It is imperative that we understand how environmental concerns may harm our supply of high quality fish and shellfish. There are two tremendous events in particular that are garnering increasing attention – climate change and ocean acidification. Both are caused by human emissions of carbon dioxide and both are exceptionally frightening for those of us that rely on the oceans for food and jobs.

The chemistry of our atmosphere and oceans is changing. In terms of earth’s existence, the change is occurring very rapidly. It is very difficult to predict what the worlds oceans will look like in 50-100 years, yet it is crucial that we understand the coming changes in order to develop proper management schemes to conserve our seafood supply. We must rely on scientists to conduct surveys and experiments to help us anticipate the coming tide of our changing oceans. These studies have revealed very interesting results. Recently we learned that fish behavior might be changing with acidifying oceans. Now we are witnessing increasing ocean temperatures possibly causing average fish size to shrink. This strange phenomenon is causing scientists, fishermen, and seafood consumers to wonder how our oceans will be affected.

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Worth More Alive Than Finned: Shark Ecotourism Boosts Local Economies, Establishes Sustainable Marine Management Strategies

Posted by on Friday, February 28th, 2014 with 5 Comments

When a business relies on a natural resource, such as the seafood industry, it is vital that we strive to protect and conserve that environment. Part of the process of ensuring sustainability is learning how to establish and protect healthy marine ecosystems. We recognize that there are some species of marine creatures that are extremely important components of these ecosystems, and are worth much more alive than dead. One such group of creatures are sharks.

Sharks have a special appeal about them. We think of them as the deadliest predators in the ocean, even though most of them are utterly harmless to humans. There is a growing industry of global marine ecotourism and sharks are one of the main draws. People will travel across the world and spend tremendous amounts of money to view sharks in their natural habitat. This phenomenon has generated a fantastic income for marine ecotourism that is supporting numerous local economies.

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Using Play to Communicate Marine Science Education to Our Children

Posted by on Wednesday, February 26th, 2014 with 1 Comments

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”

― William Arthur Ward

Marine science educators spend a tremendous amount of time working to inspire children of all ages to protect and conserve our oceans. It is a task that is simultaneously easy and impossible. Children are enormously curious individuals, little lovely beings that find excitement and wonder in every corner of the world. A moment of curiosity for a child is intense, focused, wrought with never-ending questions. Then it is gone, and they are on to the next wonder of life.

Marine science education

Children are fascinated by the natural world. Teaching science with play encourages memory retention and creativity.
Image courtesy of Flickr User gosheshe.

When it comes to our natural resources, those of us in the seafood industry strongly believe in retaining and enhancing sustainability. Poorly managed fisheries and unhealthy oceans will eventually put us out of business. In order to protect the future of the seafood industry, we must instill a respect for the natural environment and shape fisheries to more sustainable standards. We focus very hard on changing the ideals of consumers and appealing to fishermen and policy makers.

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A New Seaweed-Based Feed Promises a Better Future for Salmon Aquaculture

Posted by on Monday, February 24th, 2014 with 3 Comments

Aquaculture has been praised as the savior industry that will simultaneously feed billions of people and relieve pressure on wild populations of finfish and shellfish. However, as much we want aquaculture to be the perfect model for the future, like any large-scale industry it has its share of problems. Arguably one of the most desired fish on the market is salmon – rich with nutrition, low in mercury, and fantastically succulent in countless recipes, salmon seems to be a near-perfect fish. With some wild populations declining, the consumer eye is turning towards aquaculture to supply the demand for quality salmon.

seaweed-based feed

A new seaweed-based feed promises to improve the quality of farmed salmon to make it more nutritious and delicious.
Image courtesy of Flickr User Jeremy Keith

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Best for Baby: Consuming Seafood During Pregnancy Promotes Neurological Development

Posted by on Friday, February 21st, 2014 with 6 Comments

Let’s take a moment and wonder at the beauty of the human body. It is a fantastic puzzle of organs and tissues, veins and arteries, nerves and glands that all fit together to construct a human being. A healthy body and vibrant mind allow us to reach our full potential in life – a path that begins before we are even born.

A mother’s body provides for her child during pregnancy. A healthy mother is more likely to give birth to a healthy baby, and it is essential for her to maintain a balanced, nutritious diet. Mothers are naturally wary of anything that may be tainted with contaminants, since whatever they eat  – the good and the bad – is passed on to their babies. A standard recommendation for mothers-to-be is to avoid seafood in particular because of mercury content. A pregnant mother can pass methylmercury on to her unborn child, potentially causing very harmful effects. Yet we know that the omega-3 essential fatty acids found in fish are extremely beneficial for fetal development. Recently, we have been finding ways to avoid mercury content while still enjoying delicious seafood and good health for our babies.

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The Vibrant Oceans Initiative Sparks an International Effort to Reform Fisheries

Posted by on Wednesday, February 19th, 2014 with 2 Comments

“If we are going to carry on growing, and we will, because no country is going to forfeit its right to economic growth, we have to find a way of doing it sustainably.” – Tony Blair

Our world is built around money. It’s a simple fact of modern society. We need money to eat, for mortgages or rent, to provide for our families…simply put, we need money to survive. Money is needed to grow and develop homes, businesses, economies, and countries. Sometimes we struggle to make even the bare minimum, making everything else secondary – including the environment and the concept of sustainability.

There are numerous fisheries today that source seafood from our waters with extremely unsustainable methods. There is a blatant disregard for ocean health, even in the face of disappearing fish populations, mountains of bycatch, and unmistakable habitat destruction. The drive behind this is money – where there is a consumer demand, there is a profit to be made. Fishermen cannot simply stop fishing, for they would not make any money. Nor is it easy to initiate the move towards sustainability, as that often takes time and funding that developing countries, small-scale fishermen, and commercial fleets do not have.

Fortunately, a growing number of people are beginning to recognize that not only is the environment being damaged, but there is a rising interest for ethically sourced seafood.

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Rising Interest in Seafood – Ethically Conscious Consumers are Making Sustainable Choices

Posted by on Monday, February 17th, 2014 with 5 Comments

For any business, it is vital  to understand which qualities of a product shine in the eyes of the customer. In the seafood industry, we strive to provide the healthiest, safest, and freshest options – these things are highly appealing to seafood connoisseurs. Now, more than ever, the informed consumer is seeking out higher criteria for their seafood, to the benefit of sustainable fisheries and our oceans. Traceability and sustainability are becoming more desirable, and the industry is rising to meet to the demand.

seafood

Consumers are showing a growing interest in specific types of seafood, such as sustainably caught salmon.
Image courtesy of Flickr User SodexoUSA.

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Love a Shark Today – White Sharks Are Essential for Keeping Our Marine Ecosystems in Balance

Posted by on Friday, February 14th, 2014 with 6 Comments

On this special Friday we are celebrating love. We will spend it appreciating our significant others, our friends and family, and ourselves. On this Valentines Day, I find myself thinking about all the creatures who deserve our love, but don’t often receive it. At the forefront of my thoughts, due to recent world events, is the white shark. The white shark is a magnificent marine animal that is more often feared than loved. Yet they are in desperate need of our affections, as we often protect what we love.

Many people view white sharks as killing machines. The movie Jaws helped instill a lasting terror in many people, using the image of a toothy shark waiting beneath the waves for surfers. Indeed, white sharks have evolved over millions of years to become the perfect predator. They are physically terrifying – an 18 foot long hydrodynamic body layered with powerful muscles, topped off with rows upon rows of razor sharp teeth. They are most certainly not cuddly or cute. But it is for this very reason that they need extra love, especially right now.

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Working Each Day to Keep Tahoe Blue: Limnologist Katie Webb Explains the Threats Facing the Unique Ecology of Lake Tahoe

Posted by on Wednesday, February 12th, 2014 with 4 Comments

Lake Tahoe is one of California’s greatest natural treasures. It is a beauty to behold, with forested mountains surrounding the deep blue shimmering surface. It is famous for many recreational activities- snowboarding, skiing, hiking, mountain biking, boating, fishing, and sunbathing. But the clear blue waters of Tahoe are in trouble. Invasive species, climate change, and sedimentation all threaten the unique ecosystems of the lake.

Lake Tahoe

On the research vessel Bob Richards, Katie grabs a quick bite to eat in between dive sites on Lake Tahoe.
Image credit: Brant Allen.

Katie Webb, a research associate with the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center, is one of the lucky few people who gets to spend nearly all of her days on the lake – and is paid for it! She gives us an account of her work as a limnologist (a scientist who studies freshwater ecology) on the lake and why it is so important to preserve the beautiful blue waters of Lake Tahoe.

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