Friday, September 11, 2009: Waves: Large. Water clarity: Stirred but not horrible.
Well, that was a piss-poor sleeping night here on LBI. Not only was the wind bitch-slapping the shutters all night but lightning bolts spaced themselves perfectly so that no sooner did a dose-off kick in than a back-yarder would detonate followed by that cracking close-by thunder that even scares the crap out of the dead. As of midday, weathery things are improving, which could happen fairly rapidly. However, the sea will take its good old time in resuming a look common to calmness, i.e. fishing weather.
The beaches took a hit from this blow but nothing that won’t self-repair pretty quickly – though Beach Haven may need a few George touch-ups before the Sept. 15 opening to buggies.
I got word of another boat grounding, this one over toward High Bar Harbor, North End. No real details at his point but I’ll venture a wild guess that it’s weather-related.
The coming week(s) look very interesting in as much as the coolness seems fully entrenched. I’m sure not into cold winters but a nice brisk (not bitter) fall wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
All this weather (10 days of NE winds) mean we’ll need a fully fresh read on what’s out and about – especially along the lines of baitfish activity. The ocean bunker got royally stirred, as always happens during blows. They will quickly regroup – and get forced to the surface by predators. The mullet had been mulling about a bit, right before this storm, and could pull out of the bay all at once -- when the water allows for a sane migration start.
[Daily Comet] Sept. 11, 2009 - by Julie Isabella -
When you order red snapper in a restaurant, how do you know you're eating red snapper? You don't. In fact, about three-quarters of all red snappers sold in the U.S. are mislabeled Ñ it's probably the most mislabeled fish in the country. And mislabeling fish, any fish, is bad for two reasons Ñ your wallet and the ocean environment.
Let's first talk about the hit to your wallet. In one 2008 study on market substitution in North American seafood, scientists decoded the DNA of nine red snappers (Lutjanus campechanus) bought in New York City, and they found that just two of the samples were labeled correctly. The seven mislabeled fish were five different marine species. Two were Acadian redfish (Sebastes fasciatus). At the time of the study, the Acadian redfish went for $0.72 per pound, while red snapper sold for $2.93 per pound. Ouch.
Google mislabeled fish and you'll come up with scores of similar examples. If you eat fish, chances are you're getting dinged. And, in terms of the future of fish stocks, your kids and grandkids are getting dinged.
As recently as a month ago, the Toronto Star newspaper in Ontario, Canada collected sushi samples from city restaurants and genetically tested them. Ten of 12 samples labeled red snapper were actually tilapia. Red snapper is five times the price of tilapia. The two species are unrelated.
Tilapia is a common actor in the fish substitution game because it is plentiful and currently easy to come by Ñ 73 percent of the tilapia consumed by humans is farmed. In fact, it's an old aquaculture standard; the Egyptians cultured it more than 3,000 years ago. Tilapia is so versatile, it's poised to take over from Alaskan pollock, the preferred fish in fish sticks and other fast food.
What's wrong with that? We're creating an illusion of fish abundance.
For example, Alaskan pollock populations “generally a well-managed fishery” have declined recently (although that could be a cyclical event). Still, no one wants pollock to go the way of the Atlantic cod, once the most popular fish in the Western world and a fishery that has collapsed from decades of over fishing. While substituting tilapia for Alaskan pollock might give pollock some breathing space, the problem with mislabeling Ñ not calling a tilapia a tilapia, a pollock a pollock Ñ is that it paints the wrong picture of what's happening to the oceans, and gives people a false sense of security about how many fish are left for us to catch and eat.
Mislabeling masks the magnitude of the decline of ocean fisheries. Red snapper, for example, is so overfished, we could be the last generation to eat it. But there is no way you or I could know that Ñ or act to save the species Ñ if we regularly see red snapper on the menu.
Mislabeling fish means you're getting ripped off and that we're ripping off future generations. To protect your wallet and the diet of our children every government needs the same kind of ambitious plan unveiled in the Netherlands in 2006.
By 2011, all wild-caught fish and seafood at every food retail chain in the Netherlands will come from sustainable fisheries, and be certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), a British-based organization that tracks fish from boat to table. That means 4,500 outlets in the Netherlands will offer their 16 million consumers the possibility of an ethical and informed choice.
Yes, both the United States and Canada have programs like Seafood Watch to raise consumer awareness about how our culinary choices can impact fisheries. The programs, however, depend on consumers voluntarily making the right decision. And who can make the right decision when seafood providers are playing a fishy shell game?
There is just no way to know whether the fish we are eating is what we think we are eating, unless every fishery is certified in a regulated MSC-like process. Anything can be mislabeled on purpose and there's no indication this will stop. When the Toronto restaurateurs were confronted with the genetic findings, their reply? Everyone does it.
And of course, everyone will continue to do it, until the public becomes better informed about, and outraged by, the fishy sleight of hand going on in the seafood industry.
[Cape Cod Times, Hyannis, Mass.] by Susan Milton,
Sep. 11, 2009 --CHATHAM -- Bill Chaprales watched as the great white shark swam Monday through the cut into Chatham Harbor near Lighthouse Beach, a popular place for swimming.
The shark 'was right in there for a little bit, under the cliff by the lighthouse, and then it turned around and swam back out of the harbor,' he said yesterday.
Chaprales has tagged five great white sharks in less than a week from the 20-foot-long pulpit of his boat EzyDuzit. The fisherman, who lives in Marstons Mills, was working with Greg Skomal, a shark expert with the state Division of Marine Fisheries, when they saw another great white Tuesday in the harbor channel surf.
Also Tuesday, the Division of Marine Fisheries' spotter pilot saw a great white shark within 50 feet of surfers in waves off North Beach Island, between the harbor channel and the north break in the barrier beach, he said.
Such repeated sightings close to swimming beaches are the main reason why Chatham officials initially closed east-facing beaches to swimming Saturday. On Tuesday, officials widened the closure to include Chatham Harbor itself, Harbor Master Stuart Smith said yesterday.
Standing up for sharks
While Chatham and state officials focus on protecting humans, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) plan to fly a pro-shark banner over Lighthouse Beach around 2 p.m. today.
'Sharks are much more likely to be attacked by humans than the other way around,' PETA spokesman Tracy Reiman said in a press release. 'The most dangerous predators of all can be found lined up at the all-you-can-eat seafood buffet.'
Both Chaprales and Smith said they believe the great white sharks are here to hunt among the thousands of gray seals that now live year-round in Cape waters.
From his boat, Chaprales watched the sharks come in from the deep water, work along the beach and go back out again.
'The seals sense them, huddle together, and then get out of the water,' he said. 'There's an overabundance of seals, and nature will take care of it.'
Other sightings include a 6-foot shark sighted Saturday off Andrew Harding's Lane within the harbor, Smith said. Also Saturday, great white sharks were spotted just 15 yards off North Beach Island in the Atlantic Ocean, he said.
The only great white sharks spotted in Orleans have been along North Beach, not far from the Chatham boundary, at 3 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Tuesday, Orleans parks and beach Superintendent Paul Fulcher said yesterday.
Still, Orleans Harbor Master Dawson Farber noted that seals are everywhere through the town's waterways.
'If I were a surfer, I'd be wearing a bright orange wet suit and staying away from any concentration of seals,' he said.
More sharks than tags
The large numbers of great white sharks in Chatham are an unexpected bonanza for researchers such as Skomal, who previously has tapped Chaprales' skills to tag basking sharks and blue fin tuna.
'We never thought there would be so many great white sharks,' said Chaprales, a lobsterman who has done marine tagging since the mid-1970s for state researchers and the New England Aquarium.
'That's why we only had five tags with us,' he said.
Yesterday, the state Division of Marine Fisheries clarified that the recent taggings of great white sharks were the first in the Atlantic Ocean with electronic satellite technology.
Frank Carey of West Falmouth, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, tagged a great white shark off Montauk, Long Island, in 1979 with a sonar tag, according to 'The Private Life of Sharks' by Michael Bright. Carey followed the shark and its signal for 118 miles over three-and-a-half days. Carey died in 1994, according to a memorial on WHOI's Web site.
Satellite tags, used by Skomal, don't relay information in real time but collect data over long periods, such as six months.
Tagging 'isn't that easy, you know,' Chaprales said yesterday, describing his gear -- a very light pole with a shock absorber and a very thin needle. 'It's like getting a needle in the arm for a flu shot. Sometimes they don't even move.'
The spotter pilot finds the sharks and guides the researchers to them. Skomal identifies the species, and the boat's pilot keeps the shark in range.
'Then we wait for them to get into shallow water,' Chaprales said. 'You have to make sure you have a perfect shot that puts the tag into the dorsal fin. It's real tricky with the boat moving, and the waves. It's a team effort.'