We all have our demons to conquer ...
May 16, 2013: If fishing, prepare for gnats swarms. They were intolerable in some areas.
[Seafoodnews.com] May 16, 2013
The House Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans will hold its first hearing regarding Magnuson reauthorization next week, May 21st. The hearing will focus on data collection issues, and the witness list has not yet been posted.
There are going to be numerous hearings going forward on Magnuson, including regional hearings in different parts of the country.
At the recent Managing Our Nation's Fisheries III conference, Natural Resources Committee chair Doc Hastings, from Washington, told the audience that he hoped to complete a Magnuson reauthorization this year. However, others, especially on the Senate side, were far more cautious.
The last reauthorization, in 2006, took nearly seven years to complete.
[Reuters] By Toni Clarke - May 16, 2013 -
WASHINGTON, Updated federal advice on mercury levels in fish appears to have stalled within the U.S. department of health, frustrating scientists and advocacy groups who argue that exposure to mercury may be dangerous at lower levels than previously thought.
The government last revised its mercury guidance in 2004 when it said young children, pregnant women, nursing mothers and women who might become pregnant should eat seafood but avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish, which contain relatively high levels of mercury.
It recommended that this population eat up to 12 ounces a week of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury, such as shrimp, salmon, pollock and catfish. These recommendations were by and large incorporated into dietary guidelines adopted by the health and agriculture departments in 2010.
Yet the 2004 advisory was based on studies conducted 20 years ago or more, and some say the results of those studies are out of date.
"Research carried out in the past decade has both clarified the beneficial nutritional effects of fish consumption during pregnancy and found adverse effects of prenatal methylmercury exposure at very low doses, at least an order of magnitude below exposures known to be harmful when the current Advisory was written," a group of 40 or so scientists and environmental advocacy groups wrote in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius last month.
The scientists said they understood, from discussions with government officials, that the Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency have jointly crafted an updated advisory but that the draft has stalled within the health department.
Both the FDA and the Department of Health and Human Services, of which the FDA is part, said the advisory is still under review but declined to indicate how far along it is in the process or when it might be released for public comment. The EPA referred questions to HHS.
"FDA and EPA are actively engaged in updating our advice, taking into account new science and data that has emerged since the 2004 advice published," an FDA spokeswoman, Theresa Eisenman, said in a statement.
The recent letter follows a similar request last July to President Barack Obama from a group of 22 U.S. senators who urged the FDA to release the updated advisory.
In September, Sebelius responded to the senators, saying that completing the updated advisory remained a priority, but she gave no details as to when the advisory might be released.
The FDA's 2004 advisory said that for most people, there is little danger from eating fish but that "some fish and shellfish contain higher levels of mercury that may harm an unborn baby or young child's developing nervous system."
As a U.S. senator, Obama worked to prevent the release of surplus U.S. mercury into global commerce.
He introduced a bill with Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski to prohibit the transfer of elemental mercury by federal agencies and to ban U.S. exports of mercury by 2013. The Mercury Export Ban Act of 2008 was signed into law by President George W. Bush.
The National Fisheries Institute, which represents seafood producers, wholesalers, retailers and trade groups, did not immediately respond to telephone and emailed requests for comment, but on May 6 it announced it had created a new website "to correct dangerous misinformation about seafood and mercury."
"A space dedicated to debunking mercury myths is desperately needed because for years, activists have willfully fed an often lazy, unsuspecting and sympathetic media groundless warnings about eating fish," the organization's vice president, Mary Anne Hansan, said in the announcement.
The scientists who signed the letter to Sebelius want the government to give more detailed, and more nuanced, advice as to the risks and benefits associated with eating fish.
According to food safety consultant Edward Groth III, who was a signatory to the letter and published a 2012 report suggesting that the 2004 advisory is no longer adequate for protecting public health, said he expects the FDA's draft, based on discussions with its authors, to give consumers a much broader range of fish to choose from and more data to inform their decisions.
"All in all, the updated advisory seems like a significant improvement in both the quantity and quality of information for consumers on this topic, and it is really important that it move forward."
While a list of mercury concentrations in individual fish is listed in tables on the FDA's website, health advocates want to see the information presented in a way that the public can easily understand. In her letter to the senators last year, Sebelius said the health department is working on that too.
The FDA and EPA, she said, are working to craft supplemental materials "that will provide additional, plain language insights to consumers about fish consumption during pregnancy."
[Washington Post] - May 16, 2013 -
Fish and other sea life have been moving toward Earth's poles in search of cooler waters, part of a worldwide, decades-long migration documented for the first time by a study released Wednesday.
The research, published in the journal Nature, provides more evidence of a rapidly warming planet and has broad repercussions for fish harvests around the globe.
University of British Columbia researchers found that significant numbers of 968 species of fish and invertebrates they examined moved to escape the warming waters of their original habitats. Previous studies had documented the same phenomenon in specific parts of the world's oceans. But the new study is the first to assess the migration worldwide and to look back as far as 1970, according to its authors.
The research is more confirmation that "global change is real and has been real for a long time," said Boris Worm, a professor of marine biology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, who was not part of the study. "It's not something in the distant future. It is well underway."
The conclusions have important implications for fisheries and the people who depend on them. In developed nations, the fish migration poses costly challenges for the commercial fishing industry. In less-developed nations and the tropics, the movements could threaten a critical source of food.
In places such as Chatham, Mass., and the Gulf of Maine, fishermen who use small boats already are suffering severe economic consequences as cod and haddock that once lived close to the coast move north. While larger boats can reach those fish populations in cooler, deeper water farther offshore, smaller boats cannot, said Richard Merrick, director of scientific programs and chief science adviser for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service.
"We're seeing significant declines in the number of boats that can fish, for example," he said. "The crews that go along with that, they're out of work."
Closer to home, the population of Atlantic surf clams has declined in the warmer and shallower waters off Maryland, Virginia and Delaware but thrived in cooler water off New England. The shift has caused the closure of a Virginia-based processing plant and forced fishing boats to move, according to a summary of the research prepared by the Pew Charitable Trusts, which helped fund it.
Glen Spain, northwest regional director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, said investment in boats, equipment and infrastructure are difficult to make when entire populations of fish move in a decade or two. Spain's organization represents 1,000 fishing boats along the Pacific coast.
"Everything depends on some minimal level of predictability, and everything is becoming less and less predictable because of climate change," Spain said. He called for more spending on fisheries management that would allow a "real-time" model of fish locations and populations.
"The biggest problem we have with fishery management is it assumes the future will look like the past," he said. "That's no longer the case."
William Cheung, Daniel Pauly and their colleagues at the University of British Columbia looked at 52 distinct marine ecosystems that cover most of the world's coastal and shelf areas. Even after accounting for the impact of fishing and wide variations in the oceans that cover 71 percent of the planet, water temperatures rose steadily each decade between 1970 and 2006.
The researchers used the fish themselves as a kind of thermometer to demonstrate the increase in water temperature. By looking at the size of the catch in species' new habitats and comparing it with their preferred locations in 1970, the researchers calculated the "mean temperature of the catch," which, they said, rose significantly each decade over that 36-year period.
The authors said the migration of sea life poses the greatest danger to people in the tropics. As sea life moves away from the equator and toward both poles, new species are not moving in to replace them in the planet's warmest waters, the authors found.
"As the subtropical fish go away because it's too warm for them, you don't have hyper-tropical fish replacing them," said Pauly, a professor of fisheries.
But Worm said he expected that some kind of fish population eventually would thrive in the warmest water. "Nature is very adaptable," he said. "It always changes to something else. It never changes to nothing."
Merrick said warming seas affect not only sea creatures but also the food web on which they depend. Warmer temperatures may have affected the zooplankton population upon which some species feed, forcing them to look elsewhere for food, he said.
"Fish are kind of the canary in the coal mine here, or the canary in the ocean," Worm said. "They are showing you [climate change] is underway. It's changing, and they are adapting. And the question is, how will we adapt? Or will we?"
Huge, world-record cod taken by German fisherman
103-pound fish caught off Norway donated to Norwegian fishing museum
A German fisherman and his group were just about to give up after a slow and unproductive day of fishing off the Norwegian island of Soroya when a huge, world-record fish changed their plans.
Michael Eisele of Kiel, Germany, hooked into a monster Atlantic cod that had his knees shaking when the fish breached the surface after having battled it for more than 30 minutes.
So big was the fish, two of Eisele’s friends kept ahold of him for fear he’d be pulled overboard. The fisherman also needed help from the two to heave the behemoth fish onto the boat.
The fish was 5 feet long and weighed a whopping 103 pounds, making it the biggest cod ever landed by a recreational angler. If approved by the International Game Fish Association as a world record, the fish would supplant the current world record of 98 pounds, 12 ounces, caught 44 years ago off New Hampshire.
“It was an indescribable feeling,” Eisele told the UK Daily Mail. “It was a fish of a lifetime. I am a little proud to have the record.”
To give an idea how impressive the catch was, consider that the record for the biggest cod caught in British waters is 58 pounds.
The UK Telegraph reported that an owner of two fish-and-chip shops calculated that a fish the size of Eisele’s record fish would provide 200 portions of the iconic British meal.
But the fish won’t be headed to anybody’s plate. Eisele is donating the cod to the Norwegian Fisheries Museum in Bergen where it will be stuffed and mounted for all the world to see.
Photos used by permission of Michael Eisele