Posts about seafood

European Eels in Crisis After 95% Decline in Last 25 years

Eels in crisis after 95% decline in last 25 years

But the action the Environment Agency is about to take is upsetting those who rely on the eel for their livelihoods. A ban on exporting eels out of Europe – they are a popular dish in the far east – is proposed, along with a plan to severely limit the fishing season and the number of people who will be allowed licences.

It seems pretty obvious we have over-fished the oceans. Without effective regulation we will destroy the future of both the wildlife and our food source.

Related: Fishless FutureSouth Pacific to Stop Bottom-trawlingNorth American Fish ThreatenedChinook Salmon Vanish Without a Trace

The eel remains one of the world’s most mysterious creatures. It is generally accepted that European eels – Anguilla anguilla – are born in the Sargasso Sea near Bermuda.

As leaf-like larvae, they are swept by the Gulf Stream towards Europe, a journey that may take a year. When the larvae reach the continental shelf they change into “glass eels” and in the spring begin to move through estuaries and into freshwater.

The animals develop pigmentation, at which point they are known as elvers and are similar in shape to the adult eel. Elvers continue to move upstream and again change colour to become brown or yellow eels.

When the fish reach full maturity – some can live to 40 and grow to 1m long – they migrate back to the ocean. Females are reported to carry as many as 10m eggs. They return to the Sargasso Sea, spawn and die.

Bill Nye the Science Guy, Interview

Bill Nye the Science Guy Makes Green “Stuff Happen”

One of your first “Stuff Happens” episodes is about breakfast. What’s so special about breakfast and the environment?
Are you kidding? It’s the most important meal of the day. It had the iconic story that North American pigs – from where we get bacon – I presume unwillingly are fed feed made with South American anchovies (and herrings and sardines). Farmers say eating fish helps their animals grow to that wonderfully ample size consumers want. Because of this, we’re accidentally destroying an ecosystem. It’s the story of stories.

How so?
We’re seriously depleting the world’s anchovy population and leaving the penguins and South American seabirds with nothing to eat. These birds are dangerously close to starving because the anchovy and sardine populations have been decimated.

What can we do?
Strange as it may seem, you could eat more anchovies. This would raise the price of the fish and make anchovy fish feed more costly and less desirable to pig farmers. Also eat organic bacon from pigs raised on 100% agricultural feed. If you’re looking for the true organic meat products, make sure it’s grass-fed only.

Related: Pigs Instead of PesticidesInterview of Steve WozniakThe Engineer That Made Your Cat a PhotographerInterview with Donald Knuth

Dead Zones in the Ocean

Oceanic Dead Zones Off West Coast are the ‘New Normal’

Ever since it was first noticed by crab fishermen who hauled up hundreds of dead and dying crabs in 2002, the “dead zone” that popped up in the waters along the northwestern coastal shelf just off the coast of Oregon has claimed unknown millions of lives. This oxygen-depleted region has transformed formerly rich seafloor communities teeming with life into vast graveyards filled with the bodies of crabs, echinoderms, molluscs, sea worms and other creatures.

a low-oxygen zone appears each spring off the coast of Louisiana due to fertilizers in farm runoff and sewage present in the Mississippi River. When the Mississippi flows into the sea, it creates a nutrient-rich area that triggers huge but short-lived algal blooms that soon die, sink to the seafloor and are decomposed by bacteria that produce toxic sulfide gases.

the dead zone off the West Coast of North America has another cause: global warming. Here’s how it works: Winds cause the oceanic rivers of nutrients, such as the California Current in this case, to flow upwards from the deep, carrying nutrients and phyoplankton into the sunlight, which triggers the phytoplankton to reproduce, to “bloom”. This is the normal state of things, but since global warming has been causing land temperatures to increase, these winds have become stronger and more persistent. This is not normal because it prolongs the oceanic upwelling, producing a surplus of phytoplankton that isn’t consumed and subsequently dies, and sinks to the seafloor to decay. As the bacterial-mediated breakdown occurs, dissolved oxygen in the surrounding water is depleted to dangerously low levels

Related: Dead zones off Oregon and Washington likely tied to global warmingVast Garbage Float in the Pacific OceanAffect of Ocean Warming on Phytoplanktonthe Crisis at SeaFishy FutureSelFISHing


Until All the Fish Are Gone

Scientists have been warning for years that overfishing is degrading the health of the oceans and destroying the fish species on which much of humanity depends for jobs and food. Even so, it would be hard to frame the problem more dramatically than two recent articles in The Times detailing the disastrous environmental, economic and human consequences of often illegal industrial fishing.

Sharon LaFraniere showed how mechanized fishing fleets from the European Union and nations like China and Russia – usually with the complicity of local governments – have nearly picked clean the oceans off Senegal and other northwest African countries. This has ruined coastal economies and added to the surge of suddenly unemployed migrants who brave the high seas in wooden boats seeking a new life in Europe, where they are often not welcome.

The second article, by Elisabeth Rosenthal, focused on Europe’s insatiable appetite for fish – it is now the world’s largest consumer. Having overfished its own waters of popular species like tuna, swordfish and cod, Europe now imports 60 percent of what it consumes. Of that, up to half is contraband, fish caught and shipped in violation of government quotas and treaties.

I have mentioned the very serious problem of over-fishing the oceans:

The measured effects today should be enough for sensible people to realise the tragedy of the commons applies to fishing and obviously governments need to regulate the fishing to assure that fishing is sustainable. This is a serious problem exacerbated by scientific and economic illiteracy. The obvious scientific and economic solution is regulation. Determining the best regulation is tricky (and political and scientific and economic) but obviously regulation (and enforcement) is the answer.

Sadly this selfish consuming now and passing the problem to those who follow is common lately: Tax Our Children and Grandchildren Instead of Us. Remember when parents actually wanted to leave the world better off for children? What a quaint old idea.

Related: South Pacific to Stop Bottom-trawlingAltered Oceans: the Crisis at SeaOverfishing