This morning President Obama addressed the “Our Oceans” conference in Chile in a video message announcing new US initiatives preserving and protecting the oceans and fisheries. The newly found emphasis on these issues is most welcome in the light of vast problems surfacing about fishing practices around the world. All the nations of the world need realize that a healthy ocean and healthy fisheries serve everyone’s self interest.
Americans eat less than 16 pounds of seafood per person each year. That compares to more than 108 pounds of red meat and nearly 73 pounds of poultry. America’s seafood favorites have remained largely the same; farmed shrimp, canned tuna, farmed salmon, and farmed tilapia. America’s seafood appetite is being fed mostly by foreign imports– more than 90 percent of all seafood eaten in the U.S. comes from outside the United States. Speaking of other countries — that 16 pounds of seafood that Americans eat pales when compared to other parts of the world. The Japanese, for example, eat 146 pounds of seafood per person each year. U.N. figures show that it is 186 pounds in Greenland and more than 200 pounds per person in Iceland. The country with the lowest seafood consumption is Afghanistan at zero. And the most seafood is eaten in the South Pacific islands of Tokelau where each person eats more than 440 pounds of seafood every year. For our own health and the health of our traditional fisheries, Americans need to eat more wild domestic seafood.
A lawsuit filed in California last week accuses Thai Union Group and its US subsidiary, Chicken of the Sea, of selling products to consumers from a supply chain that contains slave labor. Thai Union is also named in class action lawsuits filed against Nestles, Mars, and Proctor and Gamble over pet food allegedly produced from a supply chain containing slave labor. Meanwhile, Starkist has likely been accepted into the corporate leniency program of the Department of Justice (DOJ), according to class action lawsuits against the Dongwon Industries-owned company and rivals Chicken of the Sea and Bumble Bee Foods. At the same time, the European Commission confirmed its zero tolerance policy against illegal fishing worldwide by warning Taiwan that they risk being identified as an uncooperative country in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
After heading out to sea, Hurricane Joaquin still managed to stir the pot with massive rains in the Carolinas and heavy surf all up the east coast. There was a remarkable find near Virginia Beach when the full carcass of a five foot Atlantic Sturgeon washed up on the sand. This prehistoric creature is covered with bony plates and on the federal endangered species list. Sturgeon used to be plentiful in Colonial times, but their numbers declined drastically through overfishing for their meat and roe. Atlantic sturgeon migrate from ocean to bay in September to spawn and then migrate back out to sea again sometime in October. Whatever fate befell the sturgeon, it probably happened as he was making his annual fall spawning run.
Sea to Table is working hard to improve the seafood supply chain, and is proud to be recognized by Food Logistics Magazine.
All the best,
from the Dimin Family and the Sea to Table team