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Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Tuesday, March 07, 2017: An early reminder—hey, I’m already excited -- that Daylight Savings Time, DST to its friends, begins this weekend.

Planting your kids. Nice try, mom.

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Yet another reason it's a bad idea to let uncles babysit ... 

 

Tuesday, March 07, 2017: An early reminder—hey, I’m already excited -- that Daylight Savings Time, DST to its friends, begins this weekend.

I’m not sure there’s anything portentous about the fact that this year DST begins on the night of a full March moon. That only happens, what, every couple million years or so?

I know that’s ridiculous but I always like egging on doomists. Those freaky folks can ferret out some sort of bizarre doominess in most anything. If you add some rarity to most anything, i.e. full moon aligning with DST, they go bananas. They’re so cute when bemoaning what’s about to befall the planet.

Speaking of them, anyone recall that 1,000-year midnight change-over when we entered a new millennium? Neither do I -- because squatola happened! That non-catastrophe knocked the mick out of many a doomologists. They had bet their lives that end times were moving in. Another end was also allegedly portended by long-dead Mayans, who quit calendarizing just past the year 2,000 ... as a sign of? It turns out it was a sign they saw the year 2,012 as so frickin’ far into the future they weren’t going to waste time scheduling any further on their calendars. “Hell, we’ll all be dead and gone by then,” they laughed. Hmmm.

LITTLE EGG INLET ON ITS OWN: I’m getting messages galore about the announced removal of navigational aids in Little Egg Inlet.

Here’s a repeat of the official language:

“The Coast Guard is scheduled to temporarily discontinue six navigational aids in Little Egg Inlet, New Jersey, due to shoaling and other navigational safety concerns, Monday.

“Heavy shoaling in the vicinity of Little Egg Inlet has progressed, making the waterway inaccessible to vessels with a draft greater than three feet. At this point, the aids to navigation no longer accurately mark the waterway and are misleading to mariners, which can potentially be more dangerous than having no aids to navigation.”

Now the bigger question: What does this mean in the big-picture scheme of things?

I’m going to be making some follow-up calls but it’s not like the USCG is going to be cluing me in on much more than they’ve already written. That said, there’s absolutely no shock in this stating of the obvious regarding the inlet’s loose-cannon channel conditions. LEI markers have long been about as safe and reliable as service station sushi.  

Below: LEI looks so innocent from this perspective ...  As you might know, the water adjacent to the southeast tip of Holgate (Rip) is the North Cut of LEI, formerly the Beach Haven Inlet. It has been officially "Closed" for many decades, meaning it is navigated at one's own risk. Also, it has no navigational markers so it is unaffected by this USCG aids to navigation removal. However (and this is just my wondering), might a loss of markers in the main channel(s) of LEI lead to more vessels opting to cut the corner using the North Cut? That can't be a good thing in the long run ... except maybe for BOATUS. 

However, going official with bad-mouthing the LEI channels might add some spunk to two related issues.

First, it confirms the meandering nature of a “pristine” inlet, of which LEI might be the last on the entire East Coast. This waterways freedom from jetties allows shoaling to run its course – which, in turn, has no given course.

By the by, the odds of getting jetties built along the bank of this inlet are rock-bottom. Hell, researchers have too dang much fun seeing what nature does when left to its own watery devices. Plus, furious nature folks would hold hands, tred water and block any jetty-building efforts … quite the sight, to be sure.

The second issue possibly arising from the essential closing of LEI is how it might renew efforts to use the sand from inlet-related shoals for beach replenishment, including the rebuilding of the state-owned beaches adjacent to the Forsythe Refuge. Currently, the closing LEI channels are clearly related to the southwardly migrating sand from the badly eroding far south end.

As a final note, I can’t imagine the U.S. Aids to Navigation System not replacing buoys and channel markers for this summer -- even if the markers only suggest channels, with the USCG taking no legal responsibility for their efficacy.

If nothing else, such LEI summer markers will offer essential perspectives for mariners -- who will find the safest, albeit snaked-out, routes to sea … and maybe even back in again. For example: “Swing 50 feet south of these two channel markers, then run true past the next two markers before totally ignoring the next one, which you’ll see lying on its side on a shoal.” Hey, like I said, the markers will offer a perspective more than a channel.

As you might know, the water adjacent to the southeast tip of Holgate (Rip) is the North Cut of LEI, formerly the Beach Haven Inlet. It has been officially “closed” for many decades, meaning it is navigated at one’s own risk. Also, it has no navigational markers so it is unaffected by this USCG aids to navigation removal. However (and this is just my wondering), might a loss of markers in the main channel(s) of LEI lead to more vessels opting to cut the corner using the North Cut? That can’t be a good thing in the long run ... except maybe for BOATUS.

More on this matter as waters clear around this USCG announcement. The issue will surely make it to Trenton and DC. I already had an off-the-record call from a state rep, proving the matter is on the move.

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You might have heard about this chicken truck roll-over accident ... hits building 

Those amazing amber mining days ... nothin' better ... or dirtier. 

Keith Luzzi· 

Jay Mann
 , Ned Gilmore 
John Murawski  
Yale Goldman - some historical photos and data on plants- last updated 2014 Upper Cretaceous Facies, Fossil Plants, Amber, Insects and Dinosaur Bones, Sayreville, New Jersey
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Investigation Reveals Huge Volume of Shark Fins Evading International Shipping Bans

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

HONG KONG- March 6, 2017

Investigation Reveals Huge Volume of Shark Fins Evading International Shipping Bans 

Despite a worldwide ban on the transportation of shark fins by major shipping carriers, a three-month investigation by the marine conservation group Sea Shepherd Global -- as part of their global shark defense campaign Operation Apex Harmony -- has verified that large shipments of shark fin are still arriving in Hong Kong on airlines and shipping lines that have made ‘No Shark Fin’ carriage ban commitments.

Sharks are in big trouble around the world, with some populations crashing by more than 90%. Some species, such as the hammerhead shark, are facing a very real threat of extinction.

A growing consortium of major shipping lines, airlines and NGO’s met with senior members of Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department and Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) last Friday to brief them on the Sea Shepherd Global investigation findings and discuss matters relating to wildlife crime. Top of the agenda was how to prevent products from CITES-listed endangered species being unknowingly shipped. These included many types of vulnerable and endangered shark fin found in the Hong Kong shark fin trade, such as hammerhead shark and oceanic whitetip shark. 

A history of the shark fin transport bans  

Since 2010, international wildlife conservation groups have been focusing on the shark fin supply chain by lobbying both airlines and shipping lines to ban the transport of shark fins and shark products. Yet the laundering of fins taken from illegal species of sharks inside consignments of fins from legal yet unsustainably-fished shark species is still rife. To their credit, Maersk, the world’s largest shipping line, led the way as the first company to implement a worldwide ban on shark fin carriage in 2010, with 16 of the world's leading container shipping lines soon following their example.

"Maersk Line is committed to enforcing our policy not to carry sharks fin products on our ships. It is frustrating that some traders seemingly mis-declare the cargo they intend to ship with us in order to try to get around the restrictions we have put in place. However, we are grateful to Sea Shepherd for their investigative work to highlight this problem, and we are working with Sea Shepherd and other NGOs as well as with HK Customs and other stakeholders to tighten our procedures to ensure the ban we place on carriage of shark fin is effective in the future," said Tim Smith, Chairman & Chief Representative – North Asia Region, Maersk.

Around 92% of shark fins entering Hong Kong arrive via sea freight, while the remaining 8% arrive via air cargo. Having worked with a number of locally and internationally respected conservation specialists since 2010, the Hong Kong-based carrier Cathay Pacific became the first airline to place an initial ban on un-sustainable shark and shark products, including shark's fin, in September 2012, extending to a full ban on shark's fin in June 2016.  

“As a signatory to the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce Buckingham Palace Declaration, Cathay Pacific is committed to not knowingly facilitate or tolerate the carriage of illegal wildlife products. This is an important initiative by Sea Shepherd, and we will support it as much as we can to close out any loopholes that affect the effectiveness of our embargo policies,” said Evelyn Chan, Head of Environmental Affairs at Cathay Pacific Airways. 

The airlines campaign was led by Alex Hofford, now of WildAid Hong Kong, and supported by around thirty global marine conservation and animal welfare groups, including Sea Shepherd and WWF.

Evidence the ban hasn’t been working  

As with most environmental issues, the first challenge is to change the rules. But the second and much harder challenge is to enforce those rules. Despite recent media claims that the trade is down overall, Sea Shepherd Global began its investigation after seeing evidence of large shipments of shark fins arriving in Hong Kong’s Sheung Wan district. “The months leading up to Chinese New Year are always the busiest months for the shark fin traders as they seek to fulfill the demand of the mainland Chinese market during the festive holiday” said Gary Stokes of Sea Shepherd Global.

The three-month long investigation documented large shipments arriving by carriers who have pledged to ban the transport of shark fins, including two 45-foot containers full of shark fins from the Middle East which arrived in Maersk containers. The problem that companies such as Virgin, Maersk and Cathay Pacific are now facing is that shark fin traders are abusing the system by fraudulently mis-declaring and mis-labeling shark fin under generic categories such as “seafood”, “dried seafood”, "dried goods" or “dried marine products” to avoid detection. An airfreight shipment on Virgin Australia Cargo and Cathay Pacific which had been falsely declared as ‘fish products’ was not identified by Customs. The exporter who attempted to transport these goods has now been blacklisted by Virgin Australia Cargo which has a ban on the transportation of shark fins. 

It's so sad what the team at Sea Shepherd has managed to discover. Thousands and thousands of sharks slaughtered just for their fins to be turned into bowls of soup. For those people who have knowingly participated they need to hang their heads in shame. For Sea Shepherd and the team led by Gary Stokes, they need to be congratulated for exposing this foul, and sometimes illegal trade,” said Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group.

"Well over thirty airlines and just under twenty container shipping lines now operate No Shark Fin cargo bans. Yet some airlines, such and Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airlines, are resisting industry best practice and are still propping up the crime-ridden shark fin trade. WildAid is calling on all passenger airlines, cargo airlines, container shipping lines as well as express parcel carriers such as FedEx and TNT, to act sustainablyethically – and above all legally – by ruling out dirty shark fin shipments from their cargo holds." said Alex Hofford, of WildAid.

Working together to close the loopholes 

Presented with the evidence, Maersk, Cathay Pacific and Virgin are now working in close collaboration with Sea Shepherd Global and WildAid to close all remaining loopholes being exploited by the shark fin trade. “A full review is being undertaken of their booking procedures and alert mechanisms to help them enforce their bans” said Stokes.

All international trade is monitored and facilitated by the World Customs Organization (WCO), which maintains a detailed list of Harmonized Shipping Codes (HS Codes). These are 6-digit codes (HK goes one step further by increasing to 8-digits) which can show, at a granular level, the exact contents of a cargo shipment. However HS Codes are right now only being used to track import/export data exclusively for statistical reasons, with trade declarations only being filed after a shipment has arrived. Sea Shepherd Global and WildAid are calling for the switching of Hong Kong's trade documentation filing requirement to be switched from post-shipment to pre-shipment. With the availability of pre-shipment information, Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department will be able to carry out more effective risk-profiling and hence more targeted enforcement work. Mandatory filing of full HS codes prior to port arrival would ensure that airlines and shipping lines can be more certain of the exact contents of cargo shipments. Such a system is already in place in the United States as an effective counter-terrorism measure. Spain also operates similar, more stringent, shipping procedures that can give customs the edge over the agile transnational wildlife crime syndicates. The Hong Kong government is also calling on the public and the business sector to support the availability of pre-shipment information to align with international mainstream and best customs practices, yet is facing stiff resistance from the trade.

Sea Shepherd Global has launched a full in-depth investigation into the global shark fin trade and its supply routes to provide a clearer picture to shipping companies for them to best tackle and enforce their commitments to environmentally sustainable shipping policies.

* The Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

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Hong Kong is Cracking Down on Illegal Shark Fin Imports

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [EJ Insight] - March 7, 2017

Customs authorites have seized a record 1,280 kilos of smuggled shark fin in the first two months of the year, more than the total for the whole of last year.

The goods, suspected to have been from an endangered type of hammerhead shark and oceanic white tip shark, were found in four containers from India, Egypt, Kenya and Peru, news website hk01.com reports.

Tracy Tsang, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) senior program officer for sharks, said Hong Kong has great demand for shark fin.

The seized items are listed under restricted species and protected by Hong Kong law, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said.

Tsang said the amount of shark fin seized has increased sharply in the past two years, rising to 1,089 kilos last year from just 78 kilos in 2015.

She said four more types of shark fin have been added to the list of banned species, bringing the total to 12.

However, due to loopholes in the law, only eight of the species are banned in Hong Kong while smuggling has been rampant.

It is projected that smuggling of shark fin will dramatically fall once the loopholes are plugged.

WWF has reached an agreement with 16 shipping companies to stop carrying shark fin. Some shipping companies, however, might have accepted the goods by accident, according to reports.

Last year, oceanic protection group Sea Shepherd Global found that many shark fin traders would use labels such as “dried seafood” and “marine products” to trick shipping companies into bringing their goods into Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, air cargo movers such as Cathay Pacific and Virgin Atlantic, as well as shipping giant Maersk, have vowed to stop transporting shark fin but have also let slip some cargo due to the misleading labels, Apple Daily reports.

Maersk said they did not know that the containers had shark fin. Cathay Pacific is cooperating with customs authorities while Virgin Atlantic has banned a company involved in shark fin imports.

Gary Stokes, executive director of Sea Shepherd Global, said the Hong Kong government can tackle mislabeled shark fin by switching from post-shipment to pre-shipment documentation

OPINION: Why You Should Give Farmed Fish a New Look

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [James Beard Foundation] OPINION by Barton Seaver - March 6, 2017

Barton Seaver is the director of the Healthy and Sustainable Food Program at the Center For Health and the Global Environment at Harvard School of Public Health. He is also a chef, author, and advocate.

“Farmed or wild?” is a question that I am asked far too often. Both means of production have their detractors and share of damaging practices. However, aquaculture, or the farming of seafood, has long suffered disproportionately in the public’s perception of this oft-maligned, yet vital food source. As a chef who once quite vociferously preached that aquaculture across the board was “farmed and dangerous,” I don’t regret the passions that drove me to that position, but I do proudly sing a redemption song.

The public often hears damning information—some of it true—about aquaculture, so much so that it obscures the major advances the industry has accomplished. It’s important that we see the industry in a broader context that goes beyond environmental metrics. When aquaculture is viewed in this larger frame of reference, the acute measure of its environmental impact is no longer a good judge of its value to our society.

One of the failures in our efforts to evaluate the sustainability of aquaculture has been that we have not measured it against other protein choices.

If we compare seafood with terrestrial proteins, measuring each by the environmental impacts of land-use alterations, greenhouse gas emissions, antibiotic use, freshwater use, and feed conversion ratios, seafood is often the better environmental choice. While I am by no means anti-beef or any other properly raised farm animal, our health and that of the environment depend on diversity. When we make seafood decisions based on evaluations inclusive of the environments, cultures, and economies of maritime communities and the positive health impacts of seafood consumption, we can better appreciate its role in our food system.

If we are to be a healthy society, both wild and farmed seafood must be part of our sustainable choices. In fact, farming seafood is one of the great opportunities available to expand food production, increase quality of life and health outcomes, sustain coastal communities, and restore the resiliency and productivity of our oceans.

U.S. dietary guidelines recommend eating eight or more ounces of seafood per week. Research by Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian of Tufts University found that consuming just three to six ounces of fish high in omega-3 fatty acids (farmed or wild) a week has been shown to reduce the risk of death from coronary heart disease by 36%, making seafood so important that Mozaffarian declares “the three S’s of public health to be: wear your seatbelt, don’t smoke, and eat seafood.”

If we are to follow this advice, aquaculture simply must be a part of our food system. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization predicts that without it, the world will face a seafood shortage of 50–80 million tons by 2030.

I do not suggest farmed seafood as a substitute for, but rather an addition to, wild-capture seafood. And though aquaculture still has many obstacles to overcome, as the industry itself seeks sustainability in its processes, the plain fact is that aquaculture on the whole has advanced in sustainability far past what consumers, chefs, and media often allow it credit for.

In the waters of my home state of Maine there are farms producing great product using best practices and constantly looking to improve. Businesses such as Cooke Aquaculture provides a great example of companies committed to forging ahead with innovations that address many of the environmental issues that have plagued the industry, especially with farmed salmon. The company grows salmon ranging from a competitively priced commodity product to True North salmon, a branded product of rarified quality that has captured the attention of some of the very best chefs.

Cooke has helped pioneer a unique approach by which nutrients released from salmon pens support growth of mussels and seaweeds farmed nearby. By reimagining ocean-farming to mimic the natural diversity of marine ecosystems, they are decreasing the negative environmental impact while increasing the positive effects these systems have on our health and improving economies through the number of my neighbors they sustainably employ.

Aquaculture grows not just finfish: oysters, clams, and mussels are well-established industries that have been a large part of this story for hundreds of years. The farming of bivalves is an industry I have long celebrated. The impacts of these systems are more than just sustainable—they are restorative, improving the ecosystems in which they are raised. In fact, I’ll go so far as to proclaim it our patriotic duty to consume as many farm-raised clams, mussels, and oysters as possible.

Aquaculturists, just like fishermen, are a part of our food system, and it’s time we look anew at an industry that must be embraced and encouraged by consumers and chefs. Sure, producers must be held responsible for continuously working to minimize their environmental footprint. But we must equally celebrate their efforts to maximize aquaculture’s contributions to our tables and our health. Remember: don’t smoke, wear your seatbelt, and eat farmed and wild seafood. 

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