Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
April 8, 2011:
You're looking at a happier man today. OK, so maybe you're not "looking," per se, but hearing from one. Somewhat out of the blue (to me anyway), the state's marine fisheries council has opted for a longer fluke season, meaning we get 25 days into September to fish fluke after the summer masses have de-massed and gone home. Though the minimum size remains at 18 inches, the chosen plan is the fairest when factoring in surf fishermen and Holgaters, though I doubt the council was overly concerned with those of us that fish Holgate -- still, we get the bennies of this fairer-to-all choice. That option was the most popular among a number of angling sectors.
[The National] By Gregor Hunter - April 7, 2011 -
Talk about economies of scale. An Abu Dhabi company has airlifted in 22 live sturgeon to give a boost to its efforts to develop the world's biggest caviar factory.
Etihad Crystal Cargo has delivered a shipment of Siberian sturgeon, which arrived safely on March 21 at the fish farm in Musaffah. The plant is a joint venture between Bin Salem Holding, a local conglomerate, and United Food Technologies, a German company.
'The Etihad Crystal Cargo team, working closely with our ground handling colleagues and clients, demonstrated expertise and co-ordination skills to ensure the fish were shipped safely from Frankfurt to their new home in the UAE,' said Roy Kinnear, Etihad Airways' senior vice president for cargo.
Fishery production of the luxury delicacy has leapt worldwide as the wild population of sturgeon and paddlefish, also a source, has dwindled.
Captures of the caviar-producing fish have fallen from 1,915 tonnes in 2002 to 884 tonnes in 2008, according to the latest statistics available from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.
The export of caviar from the endangered wild Caspian sturgeon was limited by the UN in 2006 to prevent over-fishing by the five countries that border the Central Asian sea, leading to a boom in fishery production elsewhere.
While Bin Salem Group's factory complies with UN regulations, the challenges of farming caviar in a desert climate remain sizeable, according to Pierre el Hakim, the general marketing manager for Caviar Court, a producer based in Dammam, Saudi Arabia.
He was sceptical local producers could profit without exporting to the US and Europe, which he said have proven far more robust over the past 10 years. 'In the Gulf there's no market,' he said.
However, that has not deterred entrepreneurs such as James Smith, the director of Purely Caviar, who recently established a wholesale website to tap new demand.
There is great potential for profit in local caviar sales, he said, such as the creamy white Royal Almas caviar from Iran, which sold at around Dh120,000 per kilogram last year.
Mr Smith said he had entered the business to tap soaring demand from private individuals, luxury hotels and yacht kitchens seeking to load up on provisions.
Wall Street Joournal] By Shirley S. Wang - April 7, 2011 -
(c) 2011 Fox Television Stations, Inc.
U.S. public-health officials sought Tuesday to reassure consumers about the safety of food in the U.S., including seafood, amid news that fish contaminated with unusually high levels of radioactive materials had been caught in waters 50 miles from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.
No contaminated fish have turned up in the U.S., or in U.S. waters, according to experts from the Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They expressed confidence that even a single fish sufficiently contaminated to pose a risk to human health would be detected by the U.S. monitoring system.
They also dismissed concerns that eating fish contaminated at the levels seen so far in Japan would pose such a risk.
Thomas Frieden, head of the CDC in Atlanta, said he expected continued detection of low levels of radioactive elements in the water, air and food in the U.S. in coming days, but that readings at those levels 'do not indicate any level of public health concern.'
He also said no one in the U.S. should be taking potassium iodide as a preventive measure against possible ingestion of radioactive iodine-131.
The FDA, which has been monitoring produce and other foods coming from Japan, hinted that further import restrictions could be forthcoming following Japanese authorities' re-evaluation of its own policies. Domestic restrictions on produce in Japan could be expanded to include several more towns.
The FDA declined to give an estimate of when its tightened restrictions could be introduced, saying it had first to conduct its own review of data.
'As those [Japanese] restrictions change, yes, our efforts to assure that we have the safety net in place change as well,' said David Elder, head of the FDA's division of regional operations, in a press briefing.
'Certainly we are aware of changing restrictions that are going into place [in Japan] and we are adjusting our criteria,' he said.
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TOKYO (Nikkei)--Following the massive leak of radioactive water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the move by plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501) to dump water containing low levels of radioactivity into the sea has heightened concerns over the contamination of fish.
Tepco said the measure was necessary to expedite efforts to restore reactor cooling systems at the plant.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Tuesday the government will establish provisional safety limits for marine products similar to those set for vegetables. The Fisheries Agency and local governments will step up inspections of seafood for radiation.
Local fishing businesses have already been damaged by spurious rumors stemming from these new developments in the harrowing nuclear crisis triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake. For example, authorities at Choshi port in Chiba Prefecture recently refused to allow a fishing boat from Ibaraki Prefecture to land a catch of flatfish.
The main radioactive substance in the water being dumped into the Pacific Ocean is iodine-131, which has a half-life of about eight days, meaning it will decrease by half in eight days. This short half-life has prompted the government and Tepco to argue that fish and seaweed taken from areas around the plant are unlikely to pose any serious health risks, even if they are eaten daily.
But much is still to be learned about the long-term accumulation of radioactivity in fish and the health effects of eating contaminated fish. The common view in Japan is that radioactive iodine does not accumulate in fish, and this has delayed the establishment of recommended limits and regulations for the substance. Many overseas scientists, however, warn of a potential accumulation in animals and fish in the food chain.
It is also suspected that other radioactive substances that would remain in seawater for months could also have leaked from the Fukushima plant.
Riskier than vegetables
The government should immediately start drawing up plans for issuing restrictions on fishing operations and shipments, as well as compensation for affected fishermen. These plans should take into account the assumption that radioactive contamination could be prolonged and lead to much higher levels of radioactivity than stipulated in the regulatory limits for marine products.
Small fish caught off the coast of Kita-Ibaraki have been found to contain a slightly higher level of radioactive cesium than the government set in its provisional limit.
Cesium is highly hazardous to human health as it continues to emit radiation inside living organisms for over 50 days. The cesium in small fish could be passed through the food chain into widely eaten species of fish such as mackerel, saury and bonito.
Fish swim through wide swathes of the ocean, so dealing with the health hazards posed by radioactivity in fish represents a much tougher public health challenge than the problem of contaminated vegetables.
The government has no time to waste in taking on this important task.