Wanted to share our catch from Sunday. We were having coffee on our deck on Muriel Dr. in Beach Haven West and we heard fish jumping like crazy, so my husband casted out. First he got a small snapper blue, then he got this big one! Dinner for 2 families in BHW! We've been here 30 years and never saw one this big here before.
Copyright © 2019 Anchorage Daily News
By Michelle Theriault Boots
May 17, 2019
By the end of the week, kelp farmers will haul in up to 200,000 pounds of ribbon and sugar kelp from waters off Kodiak.
The biggest commercial seaweed harvest in Alaska history is unfolding this week in waters off Kodiak, one slick blade of sugar kelp at a time.
By the end of the two-week harvest, two Kodiak sea farmers expect to haul in a total of 150,000 to 200,000 pounds of kelp.
This year’s harvest is at least three times larger than last year’s, said Lexa Meyers, who co-owns Kodiak Kelp Co.
Subsistence seaweed harvests have been happening along Alaska’s coastline for millennia. But Alaska’s commercial seaweed industry is only a few years old, and growing fast.
Just five years ago there were no commercial seaweed farmers operating in Alaska.
The first applications for aquatic farms growing kelp were issued in 2016, said Cynthia Pring-Ham, the aquatic farming coordinator for the Commercial Fisheries Division of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Today, 16 aquatic farming operations are permitted to culture species of seaweed in the state. Ten have permits to grow seaweed in addition to oysters and other shellfish, six to farm only seaweed, according to Pring-Ham.
It’s not just Kodiak.
Lia Heifetz is the co-owner of Barnacle Foods, a Juneau company that produces kelp salsas, pickles and other products.
In the past, her company has used wild harvested bull kelp.
But this year they’ve expanded enough to buy commercially farmed kelp from a growing operation at Humpy Island Oyster Company, near Ketchikan.
“(Our business) gave him the confidence to scale his harvest up,” Heifetz said. “No one has a desire to grow kelp and have nowhere to sell it. We’re at a scale now it made sense for him to make the jump and be confident we can buy it."
Barnacle plans to buy about 25,000 pounds of kelp when the harvest is ready.
“It’s a huge milestone,” she said.
Meyers of Kodiak and her husband, Alf Pryor, operate an 18-acre seaweed farm a short skiff ride from the harbor.
They grow two types of seaweed: sugar kelp, marketed in Asia as kombu, which grows in wide, flat bands up to 7 feet long. Ribbon kelp, marketed as wakame, is narrower and features a rib that runs the length of each blade.
They sell their harvest to Blue Evolution, a California-based company that has been on the forefront of the developing industry in Alaska.
Worldwide, seaweed is a $6 billion business, according to the World Aquaculture Society. But most seaweed is harvested in Korea, Japan and China, dried and used for seasoning.
In Maine, seaweed farmers have been producing kelp for food markets for years. But until recently, Alaska had been left out, said Blue Evolution founder Beau Perry.
Starting in 2014, the company worked with researchers at the University of Alaska Southeast to develop techniques for commercially farming kelp -- rather than harvesting wild kelp beds.
The technique involves collecting wild kelp plants and breeding them to produce tiny floating “seeds” that then attach themselves to “grow lines” of string farmers suspend in the ocean in late November, Meyers said.
Seaweed is harvested in late April and early May.
Blue Evolution sells “seed stock” to a handful of Alaska kelp farmers, including Nick Mangini and Alf Pryor on Kodiak, and then buys back the mature kelp.
The kelp is then processed at the Ocean Beauty seafood processing plant and sold as a blanched and frozen product.
So far, the main clientele has been food service at corporations, colleges and other cafeterias.
Alaska kelp can be eaten in a vegan broth at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and found in the cafeteria of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Amazon’s corporate catering menus.
It isn’t available in grocery stores yet, but the company plans to sell a small volume of a dried kelp product used for seasoning on its website within a few weeks, he said.
Perry says it tastes like umami, but without a heavy ocean flavor. Perry likes to use kelp in a wild rice bowl, or in a compound butter. Kelp has made its way into microbrews and sourdough bread.
Alaska is poised to become the center of the commercial seaweed industry on the U.S. West Coast, said Perry.
What would it take to grow Alaska’s seaweed industry?
“The development of a market. Right now there isn’t any one buyer who could take all the kelp, at this point,” Meyers said.
It would also take community acceptance. There’s been no voluble pushback to the still-small seaweed farming industry in Kodiak, Meyers said.
“A lot of people don’t understand kelp farming,” she said. “There’s been some concern over people getting bottom leases.”
Meyers believes a growing seaweed industry could be a boon to year-round fishing families that live in Kodiak and other Alaska communities. Seaweed farmers use much of the same gear and skills as setnetters.
And the seaweed harvest cycle takes place exactly when other big fisheries are at a lull, in late fall, winter and spring.
“There’s not a lot of opportunities for folks to gain income over the winter months," she said. “It’s been really nice to see something else creep up.”
The report, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, explores both the health benefits and the risks associated with eating what once swam in the sea while informing parents of the safest, most sustainable choices for their children.
"Seafood consumption by children has declined every year since 2007 to levels not seen since the early 1980s," the report authors wrote. "Fish and shellfish are, in general, good sources of low-fat protein rich in several essential vitamins and minerals as well as, in certain instances, the essential nutrients omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids." Omega-3s
are known to improve brain function, according to the report.
Other health benefits for children who include fish and seafood in their diets include the possibility of preventing some allergic reactions, such as asthma and eczema, and decreasing in cardiovascular disease risk.
However, risks include potential harmful effects on a child's developing nervous system after eating fish contaminated with methylmercury pollution. When mercury from burning coal and some types of mining settles into water, bacteria convert it into methylmercury, which can build up in fish.
Federal advisories on possible fish contamination may have "pushed people away from eating fish in general and canned tuna in particular," the authors theorize. Their recommendations steer parents toward aquatic fare that may be safely included in children's diets.
Safe Choice for Families
Each week, children and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should eat one to two servings of a variety of fish from those listed among the "best" and "good" choices
identified by the US Food and Drug Administration. Salmon, tuna, flounder, crawfish, sardines, cod and scallops are included in the "best" choices.
Freshwater fish eaters should check US Environmental Protection Agency advisories
before making a meal of what they catch, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends. Fish and shellfish captured in freshwater bodies may have high concentrations of pollutants. If a body of water goes unmonitored, families should not eat fish from it more than once a week.
Sustainability should also be factored into meal decisions, since some of the world's fishing grounds are over-harvested, the authors explained: Not quite a third of global fish stocks are overexploited, while 60% are harvested at or near their maximum sustainable yield. The most commonly consumed seafood in the United States -- shrimp -- usually comes from highly unsustainable overseas fisheries, according to the report.
Generally, US fisheries remain free of both environmentally damaging and child labor practices that occur in some regions of the world, according the academy. Buying American fish and seafood, whether farmed or fresh-caught, is often a sustainable choice, though this is not to say that other nations do not also have sustainable sources of fish and seafood.
Get 'Em While They're Young
, a registered dietician and postdoctoral fellow with the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut, said the new report is "very thorough."
"I think one of the main things to remember is that there's no one perfect food or one perfect diet. So the fact that this report is recommending more fish in children's diet does not mean that the experts want children to only consume fish," said Palafox-Romeo
, who was not involved in the research report.
There's no need for special foods or special diets for most children, said Palafox-Romeo, who reminds parents that "by age 2, children should be eating the same foods as the adults in the household."
She also noted that fish has a very specific "taste profile," so children need to learn to like it "before it's too late." By age 5, children have established most of their eating habits and food preferences, so parents need to get them to try fish and seafood frequently before that age because it will be harder to get them to eat it when they're older.
Every fish and every seafood option has different levels of nutrients, so if you consume only one type of fish, you'll get only one nutrient profile.
"Buy different fish, try different fish, and rotate them; that's the healthiest way to eat them," she said, adding that when kids see their parents try a food, they themselves will at least be curious about it and want to try it. Model fish-eating behavior, said Palafox-Romeo, who has been researching the diets of children 5 and younger for the past eight years. Buy the fish you like to eat, prepare it in a way you like, and serve the same to your children.
More generally, she believes all of us should consider our planet's health as well as our own. "We need to start thinking about sustainable diets. And fish is a really good option," she said.
Great White Shark Tracked in Long Island Sound for First Time Ever, Research Group Says
Last week, I had hiked well into the outback, even by my deep-woods standards. I know from satellite images there are no houses in that zone for many a mile, with a camping area maybe two miles off. So, I was a tad surprised to first sense then see this obviously domestic feline hesitatingly approaching me … though maintaining a healthy distance. Obviously, it’s in fine condition, possibly just in the midst of a patented cat walkabout; roaming far afield -- thinking in terms of cats that go missing for days on end then nonchalantly arrive back home. It might also be a wayward pet, turned survivor, that lost track of its owners’ camp or camper. After this quick exchange of stares – and my snapping a couple pics -- we lost interest in each other, both going our separate ways. It was a little weird. I should note that over the years I’ve found three dogs in the deep wild. But, they all looked the part of being long lost -- and begging discovery by humans. All were rescued.