Saturday, February 27, 2010

Marine Stewardship Council uses eco-labeling programs

By: Richard Dickey

Rupert Howes is a businessman who wanted to do something for the environment. Inspired by conservationists like David Attenborough (BBC), Howes created a foundation to help push for sustainable fisheries. The foundation, called the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certifies fisheries as having sustainable practices. If the fisheries are approved, they put a blue label on their packaging. This label guarantees that the fish being purchased were done so legally and within fishing limits.

It is actually possible to track a batch of fish from the boat that caught it, to the transportation, packaging, and eventually delivery to the store. Because of this transparency grocery stores only need to ask to see the seal and approval from the MSC and they can be assured the fish are ecologically safe to sell.

Additionally the label allows stores to charge slightly more for the fish. This charge comes with knowing you are purchasing something sustainable, a small price to pay when compared to eating something that could become extinct. This additional charge also makes its way down to the individual fisherman. This means that not only does the MSC label ensure safe and sustainable fishing practices were used, but that you are helping the livelihood of those who go further for the betterment of the ecology.

To help all you need to do is look for this label on fish you purchase. It's that simple. There are currently 500 MSC labeled products from 22 certified fisheries which are sold in 26 countries.

More information on the MSC can be found at their website:

Friday, February 26, 2010

Aquaculture Shoots their own Foot!!!!

Posted by Kristin McGlothen

Aquaculture farming is the big push to conservation of many species of sea life. In theory, the concept is easy. Grow fish specifically for consumption. We have been doing it for years to livestock and agriculture. Large farm operations put ‘sustainable food’ on our tables. We must consider where the food is coming from and the waste going when we feed our aquaculture farms.

A new creature in the fishery industry has sprung up to fill this need. After scooping foraging fish from tropical waters the industry turns around and either feeds the fish to their farm fish or turns it into commercial fish food, livestock feed, and pet food. This has resulted in increased rates of overfishing and high prices for local fish at market.

The waste produced by these farms is substantial. Every bit of the waste goes into the ocean in a concentration much greater than if the fish were allowed to do their instinctual migration. This excess pollution is causing many productive marine environments to become deserts in their own right.

The time is now to take a look at how our seafood reaches our table and the consequences of getting it there at a reasonable price.

Read more at: Dwindling Fish Stocks Article

Thursday, February 25, 2010


By: Travis Lien

No matter how many laws, guidelines, and regulations are created there will always be those who ignore and resist them. These people are called poachers and they’re a huge problem all over the world, especially Indonesia, New Zealand, and Australia. Fortunately, as the poaching problem grows, so does efforts to combat it.
New Zealand’s unique hotline, 0800 4 POACHER, is becoming highly effective as the volume of calls steadily increases. The hotline recently led to the arrest of a significant fishery thief, and all because a responsible, law-abiding fisherman was aware that one phone call was all it takes in New Zealand. The hotline’s potential will attempt to be maximized as The Ministry of Fisheries provides education, promotion, and other resources to stop poachers.
Australia is taking a more aggressive approach in response to poachers. In addition to increasing fines, jail time, and navy patrols, Australian officials are considering allowing their Naval ships to fire on illegal fishing vessels in necessary. This issue arose after Indonesian pirates evaded the arrest of an Australian patrol boat and ignored their warning shots. The unusually dangerous poachers were described as having been “…fitted with iron spikes and carrying a crew armed with machetes and guarded by pitbull terriers…” Australia’s direct approach of brute force has been very effective as evidenced by the 90% drop in sightings of foreign fishing vessels this year.

"Fisheries poacher hotline gets results." Latest News. Ministry of Fisheries, 17 Feb. 2010. Web. 23 Feb. 2010. .

"Navy to fire on fishing poachers." The Australian 11 Mar. 2005, 2 - All-round First ed., Local sec.: 2-2.

"Net Closes on Poachers." The Australian 18 May. 2007, 2 - All-round First ed., Local sec.: 2-2.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

EU: Ban Commercial Fishing of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna

On Monday February 22, 2010, the European Union Commissioner for Environment and Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries called for a ban on commercial fishing of Atlantic bluefin tuna. This decision was announced during a press conference in Brussels. The EU Commissioner for Environment, Janez Potocnik sated during the press conference that banning commercial fishing if bluefin tuna would not only protect the species, long term sustainable fishery would be preserved as well (Bryant, 2010). In addition, present at this press conference was Switzerland’s WWF Species Program Manager, Wendy Elliot. Elliot stated, “The state of Atlantic bluefin tuna today really is an absolute catastrophe," said Wendy Elliot. "We are seeing a historic decline in the order of 85 to 90 percent, which is huge, obviously. And the driver of that decline has been severe overfishing, mostly for trade in particular to the lucrative markets in Japan” (Bryant, 2010, 6). Elliot also stated that if EU countries sign the proposed ban, the chances of putting bluefin tuna on the U.N. convention on international trade in endangered species (CITES) would be greatly improved.

Many environmentalists are excited about this proposed ban. However, commercial fishermen strongly oppose it. The Japanese who consume about 75% of the Atlantic bluefin tuna caught stated that it would not recognize any ban on commercial fishing of bluefin tuna.

Bryant, Lisa (2010). European union calls for end to bluefin tuna fishing. Voice of America: Europe. Retrieved February 24, 2010, from

By Oluwaseun Owosekun

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Future Impact

The very near future of the fishing industry looks grim. With all of the state of the art fishing equipment around today it is easy for schools of fish to be tracked and caught by large fishing vessels. The rate at which we are catching these fish has made it impossible for the fish population to survive, shown by a 90 percent decrease in the population of the world’s largest fish since the 1950’s in Tuna, Flounder, Halibut, and Cod to name a few. The overfishing of these marine ecosystems is not only leaving our oceans bare but also making it difficult for the remaining marine life to survive due to destruction of their habitat.
A few things to look forward to. . . .

• Extreme rise in price of fish
• Lower quality of fish for consumption
• Loss of jobs in fishing industry
• Extinction of some of the oceans largest fish
• At current consumption rate Blue fin Tuna is predicted by many to be wiped out in 3 years
• Rise in Pirate Fishing as prices rise and fisherman’s livelihoods become endangered
• Move to human consumption of different marine species like Jellyfish

If we don’t take action today don’t count on eating your favorite seafood dish tomorrow!

By Nathaniel Germaneri


Tuna as Gold

By Pontus Abelt

For centuries Japan has been true to their beloved sashimi and sushi, where fresh fish and rice are carefully combined creating the very essence of their culinary culture. Although the Japanese are aware of the declining tuna stock (and other large sea predators) there seem to be no empathy for the conservation efforts put out by the world’s leading fishing countries to ban the export of the endangered Bluefin tuna according to NY Times. For instance, every year the Japanese government allow their fishing fleet to capture thousands of tons of tuna that are then kept frozen in a federal tuna reserve, much as other countries keep gold (which also have caused civilizations to fall). Thus, unlike gold is tuna a part of a delicate ecosystem, which feeds the majority of the world. This resource is exhaustible and human greed has taken its toll, one unfortunate victim is the Bluefin tuna, this species is endangered and protected yet we allow fishing fleets to continue to drain our ocean's resources. However, we should not take pride in ourselves here in the western hemisphere believing that Japan is the big villain, though 80% of all Bluefin tuna being consumed by the Japanese is caught in the Mediterranean region and then exported to the island, where tuna turns into real gold for the exporting countries.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Japan Ignores Any Ban on Bluefin Tuna

By: Qinyan Huang

        Every time I go to a sushi restaurant, I will normally be looking forward to my favorite fish, tuna and toro, but now, I do not order them anymore. However, I still see the high demand of Bluefin tuna in sushi restaurant. Sushi chefs use all kinds of bluefin from Atlantic, Pacific and the Southern. Japan bought about 80 per cent of all the Atlantic blue fin tunas caught last year, making up roughly half of the entire blue fin Japanese ate. Scientists are now managing to breed tuna in captivity, but not yet in volumes that can ease the pressure on wild stocks. However, the most shocking news is that Japan will not join in any agreement to ban the international trade in Atlantic blue fin tuna under the United Nations treaty on endangered species, the country's top fisheries negotiator said. The negotiator, Masanori Miyahara, said in a telephone interview this week that Japan "would have no choice but to take a reservation" in effect, to ignore the ban and leave its market open to continued imports, if the species was granted most-endangered species status. "It's a pity," he said, "but it's a matter of principle." Mr. Miyahara, Japan's top delegate to the United Nations Convention.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Economic Impact

The push to ban trade of bluefin tuna has gained support from scientists, politicians, and wildlife groups. According to many, at the current level of consumption, the population of bluefin tuna will be wiped out in three years. According to Heather Sohl, of the WWF “Stocks of tuna in the western Atlantic have dropped by 82% since 1978, while those in the eastern Atlantic have dropped by 80%. There is a high probability that restrictions will be placed on bluefin trade during a vote by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in March.
One of the issues about the ban is the economical effect on the fishing industry. It will be interesting to see how this plays out with the cost of extinction against the livelihood of the fishing industry. Canada for example depends on exporting their fish to Japan. A CITES spokesman claimed that the ban “has livelihood implications for the indigenous people of Canada. What will be the cost of enforcing such a ban and how effective will it be? Although I support the efforts to protect the Bluefin, I believe that the economic implications must be addressed if real change is to take place.

Adam Konder

Thursday, February 18, 2010


posted by Dana Cherry
Overfishing is a big problem in America. Overfishing reduces the number of fish stock. There are several different reasons that overfishing occurs. One way that the federal fisheries agency is trying to prevent overfishing is by keeping illegal fishing boats from entering the U.S. The illegal fishing boats contribute to overfishing and can hurt the livelihood of legal fishers. One current proposal is to make it illegal for people to do business with illegal fishing boats. Another part of the proposal is to prevent illegal fishing boats from entering through U. S. ports. I think it can be difficult to cut down on illegal fishing. This proposal seems to be a good way to start reducing it. Illegal fishing is unfair to all of the fishing boats and owners who do follow all of the fishing regulations and guidelines.

Some information in this post was written based on an article in the Oregon Environmental News. The web site is

The article date is January 13, 2010.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A small step in the right direction.....

sumbitted by: Kristin McGlothen

The United States legislature joins 100 other countries in their fight to protect endangered sharks. This is a step in the right direction when it comes to protecting our oceanic resources and food webs. Among the protected species are the great white, whale shark, and mako sharks. This is the first global agreement to protect a commercially exploited oceanic species. Recent studies have show that the shark populations have decreased by 90 percent in the Mediterranean and Gult of Mexico waters and by 75 percent in the NW Atlantic in just the last 15 years. This valuable legislation will provide the framework for legislation to protect other species like the Bluefin Tuna.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

We Need A Change!

Up to 27 million tons of fish are killed and discarded without consumption on average per year by industrial fishing fleets. 

Picture by-

Friday, February 12, 2010

Tuna Farming in Japan

Tuna Farming in Japan
By: Travis Lien

Tuna farming in Japan began in the 1970’s and has steadily expanded and improved since. According to a 2008 article published in Reviews in Fisheries Science journal, nearly 20% of Japan’s annual catch of Bluefin tuna now comes from fish farmed at one of 18 fisheries. Amami Station and Fisheries Research Agency on a small island south of mainland Japan, uses various nets and pins, with internal water areas as large as 14 hectares, to raise the tuna in their different stages of life. Unfortunately, however, the farmed tuna only have a 30% survival rate compared to tuna in the wild. Another interesting find by Japanese fish farmers is that water temperature has a huge impact on the weight gain of farmed tuna. An increase in water temperature of only 3 degrees Celsius means a more than doubling of weight. This is due to a strong positive correlation between water temperature and the feeding activity of tuna. Although Japan has come a long way and made significant breakthroughs in sustainable fisheries, it still has a few unresolved problems that need to be worked out in order to support healthy tuna populations in the future.

MASUMA, SHUKEI. "Status of Bluefin Tuna Farming, Broodstock Management, Breeding and Fingerling Production in Japan." Reviews in Fisheries Science 16 (2008): 385-90. Taylor & Francis Group, 2008. Web. 12 Feb. 2010.

Hollywood actors doing their part

In an article published on June 10, 2009 by Tim Saunders, Hollywood chimes in on the plight of the bluefin tuna and saving it from extinction. Saunders wrote:

A group of actors has written to Robert DeNiro's Nobu restaurant chain to ask them to stop serving endangered bluefin tuna.

According Britain’s The Telegraph, Sienna Miller, Charlize Theron, Jemima Khan, Woody Harrelson, Laura Bailey, Alicia Silverstone, Zac Goldsmith, Sting, Trudie Styler, Elle Macpherson and Stephen Fry have “written to the restaurant to say they can no longer dine with a clear conscience as long as the restaurant continues to serve bluefin tuna – a species considered by many to be as endangered as the white rhinoceros, panda or tiger.”

The plight of the bluefin tuna has been highlighted by the release of The End of the Line, a film narrated by Ted Danson that shows the effects of overfishing on the world’s oceans.

“The possibility that the magnificent bluefin tuna, one of the fastest creatures on the planet, could be extinct in as little as four years is a tragedy,” wrote the stars in their letter. "Continuing to serve bluefin leaves Nobu vulnerable to public criticism and lagging behind Moshi Moshi, Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver, Itsu and numerous others. We all love [Nobu, but bluefin tuna] must be completely removed from the menu due to its perilous position as an extremely endangered animal".

“It’s astounding lunacy to serve up endangered species for sushi,” added Stephen Fry. “There’s no justification for peddling extinction, yet that is exactly what Nobu is doing in restaurants around the world.”

A spokesperson for the restaurant said they are taking the issue "very seriously… The consumption of this fish is a cultural institution in Japan and there is still an enormous demand for this delicacy at all our restaurants. In the specific case of the menus at our London restaurants it should be noted that the statement that informs diners that the tuna served is Bluefin was included at the behest of Greenpeace, with whom we have continual dialogue. We are also currently looking at Australian farm-raised tuna as an alternative."

Help support Hollywood in their quest to encourage restaurant owners to stop serving bluefin. Write to Robert DeNiro to let him know you support taking bluefin off the menu at his restaurant:

(212) 219-0500
105 Hudson St,
New York, NY 10013+2331

And don't forget to let any restaurants in your local area that serves bluefin the same!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

You Ate the Last One!

By Oluwaseun Owosekun

On Monday January 5, 2009, a Hong Kong sushi bar owner and a Japanese counterpart paid over $100,000 to share a Japanese bluefin tuna at a Tokyo fish auction. This is the highest anyone has paid for bluefin tuna in ten years. Considering this a sale of a known endangered big marine fish, I would expect a huge outcry from many environmentalists and conservationists. People like these sushi bar owners are the ones driving the overfishing and extinction of the bluefin tuna. You at the sushi bar could be eating the last bluefin tuna in the ocean.

Source: Premium tuna fetches $100,000 at auction. (2009).

The Last of the Bluefin Tuna?

The Last of the Bluefin Tuna?: "The fish is in on the brink of extinction due to poor stewardship. What can be done to save the species?..."


Pirate Fishing,

Pirate fishing, also known as illegal fishing, is estimated to account for a loss of more than four billion dollars globally each year. That is without mentioning the destruction to the marine ecosystem that it causes (destroying ocean life). Pirate fishermen fish the ocean waters without regulations. They don’t report their catch, often selling their fish to ports where it blends in with legal fish, making it impossible for buyers to differentiate. Pirate fishing is more common in waters that have less regulation, where it is harder for local governments and fishing communities to catch the pirate fishing vessels. These illegal fishermen have no care about the destruction they are doing by overfishing the waters and leaving local fishing communities in despair. Regulating the illegal fishing market would greatly help our cause of creating a more sustainable fishing environment.
Nathaniel Germaneri


Monday, February 8, 2010

We’re Running Out of Time

By Pontus Abelt

Each year we consume thousands of tons of wild tuna although we know that the stock is rapidly decreasing. For over five decades, the world’s leading fishing countries have been in denial, believing the world’s oceans impossible to drain. Thus, we have ignored the alarming reports and treated our oceans as a thriving food bank where everything is inexhaustible and exploitable. As a result of our hegemonic views of the earth’s most valuable resource, 75% of our ocean marine life is now on the verge of collapse.
However, the world’s legislators have finally recognized the issue and solutions are being discussed, where France takes the first step suggesting a ban on all trade of tuna. We’re running out of time, and decisions have to be made fast according to Dr. Sylvia Earle (2009) who argues that the wild bluefin tuna stock could be gone within the next five years. Both France and Italy are now willing to ban the trade of tuna, and instead focus on sustainable tuna fisheries along the Atlantic coast and Mediterranean Sea. Both countries are waiting for other EU nations to follow their initiative to stop fishing tuna to increase the wild bluefin tuna stock.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

You Can Take Action Now

By Jennifer Winward

Do you want to help stop overfishing?  There is something you can do to help!  The environmental organization OCEANA has put together a letter to President Obama, urging him to help protect the world's oceans.  This includes overfishing, irresponsible fishing practices, injuring of wildlife, destruction of habitats and mercury contamination.  All you have to do is fill in your name, e-mail and address on the form they provide.  It is so simple, but it has a huge impact.  So what are you waiting for?  Click here to go right to the form!

Fish 2 Fork Campaign for sustainable fisheries and responsible restaurants

"Food is the new fur for the celebrity with a conscience" is an article that talks about how celebrities are getting on board the sustainable foods market. Various portals are being utilized to get their message to the public. Spearheaded by Charles Clover, a well know journalist and author of the documentaries namesake, celebrities are asking restaurants to become fish-friendly by not serving endangered fish in their restaurants and we should too. Customer reviews and fish-friendly rated restaurants can be found at the fish2fork website. Ted Danson has narrated the documentary on sustainable fishing. The movie is called "The End Of the Line." It is a graphic testimonial about the over-fishing and unnecessary death occurring in our oceans. I would encourage you to peruse the fish2fork website for gains made by Charles Clover and the WWF.

-Kristin McGlothen

View Charles at: Are you ordering fish tonight?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Test your knowledge

Check out this quiz on sustainable fisheries and see how well you know our ocean's current situation.

Click here for quiz

Quotas and Other Efforts

By: Travis Lien

One important way that organizations and governments are trying to protect the bluefin tuna is with quotas. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, which was formed in 1966 out of fear of tuna extinction, created an invisible “management line” in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean in an effort to help direct catch limits, or quotas. However, the commission ignored scientists and set quotas at double the recommended level. Several years later, when catches declined significantly because of tuna population declines and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora threatened to list tuna, the commission finally reduced quotas to sustainable levels, although a little too late. To make the situation even more ridiculous, a consultant was hired a few years later by exporters of tuna who, not surprisingly, determined no management changes were needed, affected consecutive quota increases, and blamed resulting population declines on environmental changes. This brings us nearly to the present, where quotas are meaningless because the amount of bluefin tuna available isn’t even enough to reach the quotas.
One brilliant idea has been proposed to save the tuna’s future. The idea calls for a 5-year moratorium of all bluefin tuna fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, their spawning grounds, each year during the spawning season; January through June. This would ensure that maximum spawning occurs over a long enough period to allow for significant population recovery. Imagine the moratorium being repeated every 15 or 20 years and the bluefin tuna responding so well that their status is no longer a problem. With some hard work, raising awareness, and a few more classes devoted to the cause, I believe these changes are possible.

Safina, Carl, and Dane H. Klinger. "Collapse of Bluefin Tuna in the Western Atlantic." Conservation Biology 22.2 (2008): 243-46. EBSCO Host. Society for Conservation Biology, 2008. Web. 2 Feb. 2010. .