In a sobering report, the WWF and the Zoological Society of London found that numbers of the scombridae family of fish, which includes tuna and mackerel, fell by a catastrophic 74% between 1970 and 2012, outstripping a decline of 49% for 1,234 ocean species over the same period. They warn that we face losing species critical to human food security, unless drastic action is taken to halt overfishing and other threats to marine life. However, WWF’s Living Blue Planet Report does find that much of the activity threatening the ocean is avoidable and solutions do exist to turn the tide.
Scientists and fishermen have reported more unusual species in Alaska waters, likely because of warming sea surface temperatures. An Alaska research organization has created an online clearinghouse of all the news and research related to the anomaly called The Blob.
Water temperatures in Long Island Sound have increased by about 1 degree per decade for the past 40 years. The trend has triggered a major shift in species that now thrive there. Studies show populations of traditional cold-water species, like lobster and winter flounder, have declined dramatically since the late 1990s. At the same time, fish that like warmer waters, including fluke and black sea bass, appear to be flourishing off the shores of southern New England. “The climate is changing,” said Bobby Guzzo, a commercial fisherman who operates two boats out of Stonington, CT “and so are the fish.”
The New Yorker Magazine ran an insightful piece on how climate change has affected McDonald’s view of Maine Lobsters. “The Gulf of Maine is a highly simplified and arguably domesticated ecosystem,” Steneck, a marine ecologist with the University of Maine, explained. “If you put it that way, are you surprised that we have McLobsters?”
In an alarming trend, fish farming is becoming more and more like industrial meat production. Big Agriculture Becomes Big Aquaculture discusses how the same industrial giants dominating land farming are striving to dominate fish farming.
With 90% of all seafood consumed in the US coming from outside the US, and more than 50% coming from fish farms, we must pay more attention. The FDA reported refusing a total of 207 imported seafood entry lines last month. Of these, 72 (35%) were of shrimp entry lines refused for reasons related to banned antibiotics. This is the highest number ever recorded.
U.S. Sens. Mark Warner, Barbara Mikulski, Tim Kaine and U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman are urging President Barack Obama to protect the seafood industry by strengthening efforts to prevent seafood fraud. Several lawmakers have also begun trying to address the problem of seafood slavery. Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, proposed legislation in August aimed at increasing transparency and accountability in corporate supply chains. Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of New York, who introduced similar legislation in the House, sent a letter last week to NOAA, urging the agency to focus not just on illegal fishing but also on preventing “trafficking and slavery in the fishing industry.”
Plate Magazine announced their 2015 “Chefs to Watch” list, and it includes half a dozen Sea to Table chef friends. A shout out to: David Barzelay at San Francisco’s Lazy Bear, Trevor Kunk at St. Helena’s Press, Andy Hollyday at Detroit’s Selden Standard, Michael Fojtasek/Grae Nonas at Austin’s Olamaie, and Bruce Kalman at Pasadena’s Union. Azula put out a list of 10 Super Sexy Chefs Who’ll Make You Want To Eat Sustainably. At least three of them are Sea to Table devotees (in baseball, batting .300 ain’t bad). And Forequarter’s Jonny Hunter adorns Madison Magazine cover as 2015 Chef of the Year. According to Sea to Table’s Lindsay Haas “I mean, he’s pretty much the coolest guy ever.”
All the best,
from the Dimin Family and the Sea to Table team