Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Monday, December 23, 2013: I want to pass on this general message to folks readying to travel for Christmas. Despite some very-off social media messages, it remains very easy getting to LBI over the Causeway.
Please note that the “Work Area” speed limit has been reduced to 45 mph but I liken those new signs to speed limit signs of the parkway, i.e. they’re seemingly just for show.
I’m likely going to catch hell for writing this but I absolutely pity the fool who drives the Causeway left lane driving the posted 45 mph. In fact, it’s semi-suicide to even drive the so-called “slow lane” doing that 45. I’m comfortable at cruising at something like 53.2 mph – in the right lane. You tool around by lollygagging in the passing lane and you’re just cruisin’ for a bruisin’. Just sayion’.
However, back to my original premise: It’s a breeze getting off and on LBI.
HOWEVER: A nasty little area of note is west of Route 9 bridge work, on eastbound Route 72, heading toward LBI -- past the ShopRite plaza and across from Home Depot sign -- you lose a left lane of traffic, quickly. It’s quite bad to find the far left lane you’re using is merged into nonexistent in less than 50 yards. At 60 mph, that’s a blink of the eye. Stay in the what might be called the middle lane – but watch for left-laner rapidly veering into your lane.
Entering our zone soon?:
Right whales are changing their migration route, possibly because of climate change
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Associated Press] - December 23, 2013 -
LONDON, A mystery is unfolding in the waters of the North Atlantic. Every summer and autumn, numbers of North Atlantic right whales gather in the waters between the eastern Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to feed on massive amounts of zooplankton.
But this year the right whales — one of the rarest and most endangered animals on earth — have not turned up in a stretch of water called the Bay of Fundy.
While no-one is sure what is causing the change in the whales’ behavior, a report in the Yale environment360 online magazine says alterations in the whales’ feeding patterns are taking place against a backdrop of major climate-related ecosystem shifts throughout the north-west Atlantic Ocean.
The right whale — Eubalaena glacialis — came by its name because it was considered by whalers as “the right whale” to hunt, due to its large concentrations of valuable blubber. It was also easy prey: adult right whales average between 12 and 16 meters in length (40-52 feet) and can weigh up to 70 tons. They move relatively slowly through the water and float when killed, making them easy to handle.
At one stage the North Atlantic right whale was hunted to the point of extinction: in recent years numbers have grown to more than 500 individuals.
Marine scientists are now investigating whether changes in water temperature are responsible for shifting the whales’ food supplies and so causing their migratory pattern to alter.
The main ingredient in the whales’ diet is the zooplankton Calanus finmarchicus. Researchers say there’s been a scarcity of the zooplankton in waters around the Bay of Fundy recently: marine scientists say warming waters in the Gulf of Maine, south of the Bay of Fundy, are one likely cause of the decline.
In 2012 waters in the Gulf of Maine and elsewhere in the north-western Atlantic underwent a sharp rise in temperature due, say scientists, both to long-term climate change and to an unusually warm year in the area. In the continental U.S., 2012 was the hottest summer ever recorded.
Fleeing the Heat
Various marine species, including cod and red hake, have been moving more to the north in recent years. A study by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that of 36 fish stocks examined, more than half were shifting northwards or to greater depths to compensate for warming water temperatures. Lobster and shrimp — vital to the Gulf of Maine’s fishing industry — are also believed to be moving to cooler waters further north.
Shifts in stocks of species at the base of the food chain — phytoplankton and zooplankton — are thought to be due both to warming waters in the north-west Atlantic and to changes in ocean currents. Scientists have shown that the melt of Arctic sea ice, together with more melting of ice sheets in Greenland and Canada, is likely to mean more freshwater being poured into the north-west Atlantic, leading to increased stratification of ocean waters and alterations in plankton stocks.
But the disappearance of right whales from their usual autumn feeding ground in the Bay of Fundy remains a mystery. Some have been reported in waters well to the north. In winter, large numbers have been sighted further south, in Cape Cod Bay, off the U.S. coast.
In winter right whales usually move more than 1,000 miles south to breeding grounds off the coasts of the states of Georgia and Florida. Now, with waters staying relatively warm further north, they might be changing their migratory behavior, deciding not to make the long journey south in the winter months.
Consumers reacting to oversoaking of seafood
SEAFOOD.COM NEWS by John Sackton - Nov. 15, 2013
The new social media of blogs and twitter comments can sometimes give rapid insights into consumer concerns as they freely express opinions.
For that reason, I was attracted to a blog diary published on Daily Kos (a liberal site) that asked “How much Tripolyphosphate should you eat in a week?”
The author says they were frustrated “with trying to enjoy quality seafood in a profit-crazed food oasis.”
Here are some excerpts:
The original diary: "The fish I have been getting lately is awful. When it cooks, a watery white liquid is left behind, and neither my cats nor my dog is interested in tasting it .
I recently bought haddock from my usual source, but as I was unwrapping it, it felt funny and kind of sticky. Also, lately, I have to wring water from frozen/thawed shrimp and there is nothing left of the scallops after cooking.
This time I looked closer. The haddock, instead of being from Iceland turned out to be from China. I kept looking and hidden where it could not be seen at the time of purchase were the words, "Contains Tripolyphosphate".
One of my sisters operates a small cafe, and we were discussing how difficult it was for her to find seafood to cook and serve to her customers which would result in a sufficient size portion. The fish she was buying kept shrinking, and she said it was a problem within the restaurant industry. She has taken to buying her fish fresh from a market more than 50 miles away and portioning it herself to maintain her reputation for quality."
“ Fish dipped into an STTP solution for a few seconds will retain its moisture. Fish soaked for a few minutes in the solution will actually absorb and hold extra water. Ostensibly the dipping is to prevent "Thaw Drip" or the loss of water at the seafood counter, but when soaked, the fish will weigh much more, defrauding the customer who will take it home and cook it, only to discover how much it shrinks. This "shrinkage" was beginning to burn my butt. Some seafood will actually retain up to 40% extra water, making that $9.00 piece of fish weigh in at $16.00! It is frequently used on hake, sole and imitation crabmeat.
So, my problem is, how can someone like me get fish to cook at home that isn't soaked in STTP?
Here are some of the comments:
“We cut way back on seafood, for 2 reasons: The overfishing problem, and the pollution problem in our oceans. This makes for reason #3 --the chemical treatment of fish.” “This "sttp" when everyone gets wind of it, I hope it goes the way of the pink slime in the burgers. Puke!”
“I'm feeling really glad right now that I live near Seattle and can get over to the fishmongers at Pike Place Market fairly easily. While expensive, I'd bet that at least the salmon I get there doesn't have this in it, and probably nothing else does, either. Thank you for a great informational diary. I think I ate some tilapia with this stuff in it at a restaurant several months ago, and this may have been what caused me to become extremely sick afterward. My friend and I had the same thing and we both got sick.”
“Willamette Valley is close enough to the coast for relative safety... Our main fish source does label both "previously frozen" and whether caught in the US or China. Guess what we DON"T buy!?
We're simple palates: we only look for halibut (which we will buy frozen), dover sole and occasionally wild salmon. we eat fish about once every 2 weeks.
I have canned tuna (water pack, NOT albacore) maybe once a month, or less to keep the mercury down. I grew up with tunafish sandwiches & it's hard not to backslide occasionally.”
“There are many legitimate points made here: eutrophication concerns, effects on water retention in fish, etc. But about health effects, I wouldn't be worried. Put this stuff in your body, and some magnesium will replace the sodium, and the phosphate will pick up a proton. You'll be left with a little more sodium along with a dibasic phosphate molecule that will be identical to what your body makes trillions and trillions of every second when it uses energy (the phosphate removed from an ATP).
“As you know.., I have two great stores that sell fresh fish near my Chicago home. My local grocery store Sunset Foods, has excellent fish, with a choice of about 8 different kinds of fish a day. The other store is about 1/2 hour from me. It's called Fresh Farms, and has 3 stores in the northern Chicago suburbs. The fresh fish counter there has probably 40 different kinds of fish from all over the world. Under the name of the fish it shows where the fish came from. The fish we've been eating is so good, that we've been eating it 3 times a week.
I would never buy any food from China for either humans or furry little ones. “
“About 20 years ago I visited a small scallop processing operation on Cape Cod.
The scallops were soaked in vats of this stuff, so much so that there was a massive amount of foam from the chemical all over the workers and the all over the floor. It looked like a laundry had exploded. Not appetizing at all.
“ Yes! Dipping is the stated goal, but instead, the scallops are soaked, until they absorb so much water that it is hard to cook them! Even the fried ones in restaurants seem like a tiny bit of food inside of a nearly hollow shell. “
“You need dry frozen scallops. Much better.”
“I can get dry scallops at the Wegmans fish counter, but they are just so doodly darn expensive. After all this conversation, I realize that they will be lighter, and I will get more than I expect in a pound, compared to the wet ones.”
“This is like Pink Slime. Like Pink Slime, the concern really isn't health effects (as nicely stated by others in this comment thread), but instead it is FRAUD. You think you are buying fresh fish of a certain weight, and instead you get water-logged processed fish with an unpalatable flavor.
Unfortunately, I don't think enough people in this country eat fish to make as much as a stink about this as pink slime.”
“Our local Publix carries decent fish. The fresh stuff is "dry" as you mentioned - they are very good about labeling anything that was previously frozen and I avoid it. I get a great sear on my salmon and trout. It's pricey, though - $10-15 a pound unless something is on sale. “
“I can shop at a Wegmans, and they offer some dry fish and scallops, and have been helpful in pointing me toward some frozen fish that isn't processed in China. Very Pricey !”
“I have decided that I would rather pay more for better fish and just eat it less often. I love halibut and red snapper, both of which can get pricey. I probably would like sea bass but to date have not been able to force myself to fork over $30 a pound for it. I absolutely refuse to buy Chinese or Vietnamese shrimp. Gulf shrimp or none at all.”
“Thanks for the heads up! Now I understand why the frozen cod fish I've been purchasing looses so much water while thawing! I just checked the package and it lists Tripolyphosphate as one of the ingredients. That explains why it looses a good 40% of it's weight.
So guess what? From now on I'm going to buy a different brand that doesn't contain Tripolyphosphate.”
To see the original diary you can click here.
Obviously there is a lot of consumer misinformation about health and additives, but the overall impression is that excessive use of soaking, and consumer fraud, can end up hurting frozen seafood purchasing among the most eager seafood consumers. It erodes their trust in seafood. This is not a new problem. False rumors about seafood have been around for years. But excessive soaking and economic fraud have the ability to depress seafood consumption as some of the most determined customers - who responded with comments - get turned off of "normal" seafood.