Sunday, January 31, 2010

Portland's Bamboo Sushi Deemed "Most Sustainable" Sushi In U.S.



In a recent survey by online restaurant guide Fish2Fork, Portland, Oregon's own Bamboo Sushi was shown to represent the most sustainable sushi venue in the U.S. of the 50 restaurants surveyed so far. Fish2Fork is dedicated to providing the public with the necessary information to dine responsibly. For more information check out Fish2Fork online.

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-Eli Hopkins

America Pushes for Bluefin Recovery

In an attempt to help the dwindling population of Atlantic and Mediterranean Bluefin tuna, America has begun to actively support reducing the annual Bluefin catches to 15,000 tons. This is a reduction by over half as the annual catch four years previously has been 32,000 tons. In the referenced article, Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez states, “The United States wants to manage commercial tuna fishing in an environmentally sound way. We want to limit harvests to sustainable levels to ensure the future of tuna stocks and the fishermen who depend on them. We will continue to work with the world's fishing community towards these goals."


The current problem is that other nations, who also fish for Bluefin, are not committed to the act of recovery and are ignoring the scientific evidence that is showing that the species will be close to extinction if overfishing continues. Until there is a world wide agreement on limits and additional measures taken in implementation, monitoring and control, we will continue to see the Bluefin population levels drop.


For the full article, please visit the following link:

http://www.aquanet.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1078&Itemid=2


-Kyle Laszlo

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Efforts to save Bluefin tuna face challenges




Bluefin tuna has proven to be a very popular fish in many aspects of the fishing industry. It’s popularity has proven to be a danger to its species as it closes to its final fate of extinction. Many fishing countries around the world can benefit from the profits in fishing this species. Having its extinction coming closer and closer some efforts have been made to farm-breed these fish, the effort has not been without some setbacks and surprises. These efforts have proven to be successful to a point at a very slow pace, yet fruitful outcomes give hope for the future.
Yoshifumi Sawada is a biologist in Japan’s Kinki University, he comments the bluefin’s eccentric habits have made them easy prey for fishers. As the demand for their meat in sushi and sashimi has risen so has the frequency of fishing for young bluefins. Due to the origin of these traditional dishes Japan initiated a program in the 1970’s to farm-breed the bluefin tuna. Early studies and trials seemed to be fruitless due to the bluefin’s size and eating habits. The bluefin tuna is considered to be one of the ocean’s largest predators. Before overfishing took place, their normal size and weight was 4 meters long and weighing half a ton. Bluefin tuna is also an animal similar to sharks, where they must move continuously to force water over their gills. This also proved to be an issue as this required much larger tanks than the usual fish-farming species. It took a group of biologists form Kinday, a part of the Kinki University, 4 years to learn how to maintain the bluefin tuna in a relatively large enclosed space without having them suffer from the lack of space.
All of these efforts also take their toll in the pocketbooks of universities and conservationist teams. The estimated annual budget of the Kindai group added to be about 25$ million. This gave some urgency to the success of the program. After much persistence in 1995 the program was able to spawn six fish that survived through adulthood. This meant that the bluefin’s lifecycle was completed and farm-breeding this species was becoming a reality. Their goal now is to be able to raise the tuna from eggs and release once reached maturity. According to the Kindai group, there still needs to be many issues resolved before they can start releasing tuna into the wild and impact natural populations.

To learn more about the Kindai group and their work visit:

http://ccpc01.cc.kindai.ac.jp/english/e_r/Fish.htm

To learn more about bluefin tuna go to:

http://marinebio.org/species.asp?id=236

-Gonzalo Romero

Friday, January 29, 2010

Are Newer Fishing Methods, Better Fishing Methods?


In a report by 60 Minutes titled “King of Sushi,” Bob Simon talks about the struggles bluefin tuna face as new technologies speed up their depletion. First of all, overfishing is a massive problem throughout the world and not just for bluefin tuna. According to an article posted on Grinning Planet’s website “global stocks of most fish are stretched to their limits. Nearly a quarter of commercial species have already been over-exploited, with a total 70% of species now being fished close to, at, or beyond their capacity.”

For the bluefin, new technologies in fishing and preservation allow them to be sold for as little as 50 cents a plate. As Bob Simon reports, huge freezers make the highly prized fish a commodity that has “little or no expiration date.” Modern, industrial vessels known as purse seiners compound the problem by allowing enormous amounts to be caught at once, some 3000 bluefin at one time according to “King of Sushi.” An amazing industrial triumph on one hand, but if too many are caught at once, the tuna will only face extinction faster. How we fish is something to take into consideration. Hi-tech methods of fishing have brought on higher yields and efficiency, but that only hurts the tuna more, not to mention oceanic life as a whole.


For the link to “King of Sushi” by 60 Minutes, click on:

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/01/11/60minutes/main3700644.shtml

Below is also a link to Grinning Planet, which has a great article about overfishing and what you can do to help:

http://www.grinningplanet.com/2005/06-07/overfishing-article.htm

Alternatives To Tuna: Dining With Discernment


For many people who aren't either an active participant in wildlife conservation, or an active participant in commercial fishing, the debate over rapidly declining Tuna populations may seem merely academic, or to the more irreverent members of society maybe even arbitrary. It is important for those committed to Tuna conservation to make the argument real and corporeal to those who are only tangentially involved. To make a convincing case to those whose involvement with fish is only as a diner, it is necessary to first provide suitable alternatives. Thanks to FishOnline, we have a list of 35 delicious and responsible alternatives to Tuna and other endangered species. By stressing the practical potential of alternative dining, we can gain yardage against those whose culinary preferences outweigh their sense of environmental responsibility.
1. Abalone (farmed only)
2. Alaska or walleye pollock (MSC certified)
3. Bib or pouting
4. Black bream or porgy or seabream (from Cornwall and NW and N Wales)
5. Clam, American hardshell (from hand-gathered farmed sources only)
6. Clam, carpet shell (hand-gathered only)
7. Cockle (MSC certified from Bury Inlet, SW Wales)
8. Cod, Pacific (MSC certified)
9. Coley or saithe (from NE Arctic and combined N Sea stock)
10. Dab
11. Dover sole (MSC certified from Eastern Channel)
12. Flounder (from Cornwall and NW and N Wales)
13. Gurnard (grey and red)
14. Lemon sole (otter trawl or seine net caught)
15. Lobster, Mexican Baja California red rock (MSC certified)
16. Lobster, Western Australian rock (MSC certified)
17. Lythe or pollack (line caught and tagged from Cornwall))
18. Mackerel (MSC certified from Cornwall))
19. Mahi Mahi (handline caught from targeted fisheries only)
20. Mussel (sustainably harvested or farmed e.g. rope grown))
21. Oyster (native & Pacific, sustainably farmed)
22. Pilchard or sardine, European (traditionally harvested from Cornwall)
23. Red mullet (not from Mediterranean)
24. Salmon, Atlantic (Organically farmed)
25. Salmon, Pacific (MSC certified from Alaska)
26. Scallop (sustainably harvested e.g. dive-caught)
27. Scampi or Dublin Bay prawn (MSC certified from Loch Torridon, or pot-caught from West of Scotland)
28. Seabass (line-caught and tagged from Cornwall)
29. Snapper, Red or Crimson
30. Spider crab (pot caught only)
31. Tilapia (sustainably farmed)
32. Trout (brown or sea and rainbow, Organically farmed)
33. Tuna, albacore (pole and line, handline or troll-caught from S Pacific or S Atlantic)
34. Tuna, skipjack (pole and line or handline-caught from Pacific (western & central) or Maldives)
35. Winkle (sustainably harvested e g. hand picked)


-Eli Hopkins

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Politics of Extinction


In light of dwindling Bluefin Tuna populations it would seem to be an obvious issue to raise at the upcoming Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which meets in March. Unfortunately it appears as though the European Union has preemptively removed the issue from the convention's agenda owing to pressure by fisherman of France, Malta, Italy, and Greece, some of whom have promised to block port access if their demands are not met. Sound like a bizarre heist film? In a way it is. Stepping in as the "heroes" are the members of conservationist group Sea Shepherd, who plan begin intercepting tuna poachers after the end of whaling season.
For more information read the article appearing on the Sea Shepherd website.

-Eli Hopkins

Sunday, January 24, 2010

How Much is Sushi Worth to You?

Many connoisseurs of sushi may not think about the adverse effects their eating has on the environment. Actually, as consumers of food products sold in the United States, does anyone really know the cost our food consumption has on the world? Should every food source be required to attach with it a sustainability clause stating the cost its production had on the environment?

Many of us would say no, that is way to extreme. However, what happens when a creature is being harvested at record numbers from our oceans and is facing a possible extinction, shouldn’t the consumers be told then? This is the case for bluefin tuna. In hopes of possibly making consumers aware, a suggestion has been made to label sushi that is prepared with bluefin as “endangered”. This will allow the consumers to be informed and hopefully decide on a more environmentally sound decision.


To read more about the restaurant debate, please read the following article.
http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2009/0828/p09s01-coop.htm


Tanya E.

Monday, January 18, 2010

About Bluefin Tuna

by L Fashing

For several years, the Bluefin Tuna has been regarded as the supreme choice for Sushi because of its low calorie, high protein fish rich in heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. Japan and United States are the largest consumers of Bluefin Tuna consuming about 65% of the world’s tuna.

Since Bluefin Tuna has increased in popularity it recently was reported that a Bluefin Tuna sold for over $100,000 dollars. The average price for one Bluefin Tuna is usually $2,000 to $20,000. With prices like these there are many fishing companies that are overfishing the oceans and putting Bluefin Tuna at risk of extinction.

Despite requests to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) they have not taken aggressive action to lower the limits or to put bans on Bluefin Tuna. The ICCAT does have maximum limits on Bluefin Tuna; however, it has been reported that fishermen catch more than double that limit. One report I read from Charles Clover, Environment Editor on November 8, 2007 stated the legal quota was 29,500 tons and 56,000 tons was caught.

One way “you” can make a difference is to choose other fish alternatives instead of Bluefin Tuna go to http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/cr_seafoodwatch/content/media/MBA_SeafoodWatch_SushiGuide.pdf for a printable “Sustainable Seafood Pocket Guide”. The guide will give you a list of “Best Choices” “Good Alternatives” and which fish should be “Avoided”.

Also, read this article “Sushi to die for” at http://www.salon.com/news/env/environment/index.htmlstory=/env/feature/2009/07/27/bluefin_tuna and find out about world-renowned chefs and Hollywood celebrities in an intercontinental food fight over the fate of one of the world's great predators, the Bluefin Tuna.
YOU can make a difference!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hormone Controversy in Farm-Raised Bluefin Tuna

The overfishing of bluefin tuna and the 90% drop in population levels has led to an increasing number of aquaculture farms raising bluefin tuna for commercial sale. Since bluefin tuna are very active creatures and used to migrating, it is difficult for these farms to mimic their natural habitat. As a result, a particular hormone in bluefin tuna, called GnRH decreases when they are in captivity, making reproduction extremely difficult.
The University of Maryland's Biotechnology Institute began experimenting with hormone implants for bluefin tuna in 2005. These hormone implants cause the fish to produce millions of eggs in a short period of time.
Although the method is controversial among some environmentalists, others believe it may be a necessary method for saving the bluefin tuna species. The main concerns are not knowing whether there are health issues resulting from eating tuna that has been fed hormones, and of course that farm-raising tuna may not be a good idea in first place because of the amount of fish that have to be harvested from the ocean in order to feed them, reducing the food supply for other species of fish.

For more information:

www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wilderness-resources/stories/farm-raised-bluefin-tuna-spawn-controversy

www.thefishsite.com/articles/740/reproducing-the-atlantic-bluefin

http://finfish.org/wp-content/uploads/SELFDOTT-PR2009-DEF1.pdf

by Jasmine Winchell, PSU

The Decline of the Bluefin Tuna

In PBS' special series, Empty Oceans, Empty Nets, the Bluefin Tuna is one of the top five species of fish that is reportedly being over-fished to the point of extinction. According to their stats, "Bluefin tuna populations in the Atlantic Ocean have declined over 70% in the last 30 years." Environmental groups, including us here at EcoMerge, are trying to call attention to this pressing problem and taking action to stop or at least slow the extinction of bluefin and other endangered species.

For more information on PBS' series, visit here.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Overfishing: Risky to them, Risky to Us

I have been thinking about the overfishing of bluefin tuna and what drives the problem. I have been searching through different sites and what sticks out to me is over consumption and a growing demand for this fish. This is strange to me because bluefin tuna are going extinct, but are people also aware of the health risks involved?

If growing demand were to be reversed, bluefin tuna would not be so overfished. So, educating each other through things like consumer guides at the grocery store might be a start. This is what Oceana suggests. Some kind of guide or warning should even be at restaurants because bluefin tuna has high mercury levels, as much as ones that are on the FDA’s “do not eat” list. There is a good chart of this on pg 15 of Oceana’s report. A link to Oceana’s full report can be found through http://www.earthjustice.org/news/press/2008/high-mercury-content-in-bluefin-tuna-not-only-reason-to-pass-on-the-sushi.html Once at this site, click on the very last link at the end of the article. Particularly, pg 15 (Figure 2B) of Oceana's report shows a graph of bluefin tuna having as much mercury as king mackerel, which is on the FDA’s “do not eat” list.

I’m surprised something more has not been done considering bluefin tuna's health risks. Are people keeping quiet about it because of the growing demand? This makes me wonder about how many other things we are kept in the dark about simply because there are people out there who want to make money. It is up to us to be informed, then.

Extinction for the Bluefin?

The Bluefin Tuna is being fished to near extinction in many parts of the world. Common Dreams, a non-profit dedicated to social and political activism, reports that it will take only three years at the current rate of fishing these animals, ages four years and older, for them to disappear in the Mediterranean. It seems that the situation may be worse in parts of Asia, specifically Japan. Some solutions have been brought up; raising them on fish farms was one of them. But the natural environment that they need to survive is so large, due to the fact that their migratory pattern is so large and they swim up to 40 mph, and the cost would be so great that it doesn’t seem like a viable idea. There are Bluefin fishing regulations in the form of quotas in many countries, including the United States, but this does not seem to be decreasing the rate at which these animals are disappearing and it has created a problem on the free market.

These fish are highly sought after by many sushi lovers and restaurant chefs and owners. In its raw form, it is called sashimi. Because of this the Bluefin is sold for outrageous prices on auctions and the restaurateurs are in a bidding war, specifically in Japan, and do not seem to be considering the sustainability of these fish. In an article by Leo Lewis, Giant Bluefin tuna sells for £111,000 in Japan, it is mentioned that one single Bluefin Tuna was sold for £111,000. This is a 60% higher than those sold last year in these types of auctions. This trend does not seem to be subsiding.

Many restaurants are starting to take the sustainability of the food that they serve seriously. Much of this concern is a direct result of consumers and activists bringing the issue to the table and creating awareness on the subject. Websites like the Fish 2 Fork website are popping up all over the internet (http://fish2fork.com/apps/welcome/). This is a website that you can go to and see what your favorite restaurant received in regard to their impact on the ocean and marine life. For example, right here in our own backyard, Bamboo Sushi received 4.5 out of 5 and was commended by this site for its exhaustive efforts in maintaining sustainable food in their restaurant.

Not only do some countries want to limit consumption and fishing of the Bluefin, but many are trying to ban trade of these fish. The UK is one of those countries. Many of these bans are unpopular, but they seem to be growing in strength and support.


For more information on any of the information listed above, please see the links below:

News on the Bluefin Auctions- http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article6976664.ece

See restaurant scores at Fish 2 Fork - http://fish2fork.com/blog/2010/01/sushi-restaurants-need-sustainabilty-on-menu/

See what Common Dream is saying about the Bluefin - http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/04/14-0.

Ban on Blufin trade talk in the UK - http://www.wwf.org.uk/what_we_do/campaigning/marine_act_campaign/key_facts/?3181/UK-wants-bluefin-tuna-ban

Friday, January 15, 2010

Bluefin Tuna in Danger

by Kyle Laszlo

The Bluefin tuna has been prized by sushi lovers, specifically sashimi aficionados, because of its delicious taste in its raw state (sashimi is served raw). The problem is that the Bluefin has been so overfished in order to keep up with the demands of sushi restaurants all over the world that the population of Bluefin has been dwindling with no chance to rebound. The continent that consumes the most Bluefin is currently Asia, especially the country of Japan. At this point in time, it is on the endangered species list and in response some trade bans have been put into action in order to help save the declining population.


There have been many ideas passed around in attempt to keep not only the environmentalista and scientists, but also the fishermen whose livelihood and families depend on the income they bring in by fishing for the Bluefin, happy. One such idea is farm raising the Bluefin, much like they do with Salmon in Oregon. The problem with this is that the Bluefin have a very large appetite for various smaller sea creatures and require a much bigger area in which to feed. It is also believed that their ability to reach upwards of 70 mph in the ocean also helps them become bigger, stronger, and healthier fish. Another issue is that typically those fish caught for farming purposes are ones who would eventually spawn to help grow the population and are captured and later consumed. Currently farmers have had trouble getting captive Bluefin tuna to spawn.


Scientists are calling for a complete ban of Bluefin tuna in order to help the population reach safe levels once again and keep them from extinction. Many environmental agencies are pushing for this ban as well, such as the World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace. The average life span of a Bluefin tuna is 15 years, making the time for them to reproduce to levels that keep them off of the endangered species list a lengthy wait. Are fisherman willing to wait for the species to grow in numbers or will we see an increase in illegal fishing?


For more information please visit the following articles:


http://www.canada.com/technology/Scientists+join+call+bluefin+tuna/2161696/story.html


http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article6977146.ece