Is the evidence for fish-eating better than simply taking a fish oil pill? Composite: Getty
Paul Greenberg, author of The Omega Principle: Seafood and the Quest for a Long Life and a Healthier Planet (Penguin Press), is making the rounds with an important argument; get the short version here in the Guardian:
Omega-3 is one of our favourite supplements – but a huge new study has found it has little or no benefit for heart health or strokes. How did it become a $30bn business?
The omega-3 industry is in a twist. Again. Last week, Cochrane, an organisation that compiles and evaluates medical research for the general public, released a meta-analysis – a study of studies – to determine whether or not omega-3 pills, one of the world’s most popular dietary supplements, reduced the risk of coronary heart disease. After comparing 79 trials involving 112,059 people, the researchers could find “little or no difference to risk of cardiovascular events, coronary heart deaths, coronary heart disease events, stroke or heart irregularities”.
I can’t say that I was particularly surprised. Over the past 15 years, more than 20 studies have shown a similar lack of effect. But what does surprise me is how we continue to look at the world of fish and seafood through the amber lens of a fish oil capsule. Omega-3s do something in our bodies – and probably something important. But without the larger context of the marine organisms that contain them, omega-3s get lost in the noise of human metabolism and modern marketing.
Using purse seine nets to fish for bluefin tuna, Turkey. Two-thirds of species are overexploited in the Mediterranean. Photograph: Gavin Newman/Alamy
Thanks to Damian Carrington, Environment editor at the Guardian, for bringing this to our attention:
If you are trying to watch what you eat for sustainability and impact, Justin McCurry, in Tokyo writing for the Guardian, has this story to keep in mind:
Low light imaging data being used to expose unregulated and unreported fishing on the high seas
New data is being used to expose fleets of previously unmonitored fishing vessels on the high seas, in what campaigners hope will lead to the eradication of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing.
Global Fishing Watch (GFW) has turned low light imaging data collected by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) into the first publicly available real-time map showing the location and identity of thousands of vessels operating at night in waters that lie beyond national jurisdiction. Continue reading
Janie Osborne for The New York Times
Thanks to Jim Robbins, whose work we have appreciated not least for its culinary intrigue, but especially for the sustainability angles:
Thanks to for this story about how a Robotic Fish Moves Like The Real Thing — So It Can Observe The Real Thing:
SoFi, the robotic fish, swims in for its close-up. MIT computer scientists hope SoFi will help marine biologists get a closer (and less obtrusive) look at their subjects than ever before. MIT CSAIL
Scientific advancement: It’s all in the wiggle.
OK, it’s a lot more complicated than that. But when a team of researchers at MIT unveiled their robotic fish Wednesday, one of the keys they emphasized was the graceful undulation of the prototype’s tail — which, besides being rather eye-catching, serves a crucial role in the robot’s ultimate mission: giving scientists the ability to unobtrusively observe marine wildlife remotely.
“Because the fish moves through undulating movement rather than thrusters, the impact it has on how the water moves around it is much more like what is expected of physical fish,” Daniela Rus, director of the school’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, tells NPR. Continue reading
I’ve posted previously about the lionfish invasion that is threatening coral reef and other marine ecosystems throughout the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and Southern Atlantic Seaboard of the United States.
Much has been made of the spectacular invasive success of the two species of Indo-Pacific lionfish that have established themselves throughout the Wider Caribbean. Not only are the invaders being found at population densities more than ten times those typical in their native range, but they also have been found to grow more rapidly, reaching sexual maturity more quickly, and growing to greater size than do their Indo-Pacific cousins.
Several studies have looked at the genetic make-up of invasive lionfish and have concluded that the populations found in the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, and Southeastern seaboard of the United States are all closely related, stemming back to fewer than ten females. Continue reading
Acadian Sturgeon and Caviar markets three types of caviar, one from the wild Acadian sturgeon, and two types — green and gold — from its farmed shortnose sturgeon. Nancy Matsumoto for NPR
Thanks to Nancy Matsumoto and the folks at the salt, over at National Public Radio (USA):
It’s the end of only the first week of the official Atlantic sturgeon fishing season on the St. John River in New Brunswick, Canada. But the two fishermen who supply Cornel Ceapa’s Acadian Sturgeon and Caviar company have already landed close to half of the season’s catch. Continue reading
David Milne, skipper of the MSC-certified trawler Adorn, holds a cod in Peterhead fish market. Photograph: Eleanor Church/Marine Stewardship Council
Cod seems as good as any other creature to feature in a redemption story. The editor of the Environment section at the Guardian shares good news on one lucky population of cod that got the attention they needed, seemingly just in time:
We’ve mentioned Cabo Pulmo here several times in the context of marine conservation, as well as from a personal visit. Although I still haven’t had a chance to go out on a scuba diving expedition here, a couple weeks ago Jocelyn and I were able to accompany some Villa del Faro guests on a snorkeling trip outfitted by Cabo Pulmo Sport Center, which is run by members of the Castro family mentioned in the posts linked above. The tour took two hours, but I’ve condensed the experience into almost fifteen minutes of video that I took on a rented GoPro:
Thanks to contributor Phil Karp for sharing this great example of how peer-peer knowledge exchange can help to replicate and scale up innovative solutions.
Experience from around the world shows that managing fisheries and marine resources works best when responsibility is placed in the hands of local communities. This is particularly true in low-income countries, where there is often limited capacity and infrastructure for fisheries management and conservation.
Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMAs) are areas of ocean managed by coastal communities to help protect fisheries and safeguard marine biodiversity. Found throughout the world’s tropical and subtropical seas, and encompassing diverse approaches to management and governance, their sizes and contexts vary widely, but all share the common theme of placing local communities at the heart of management.
Open-ocean aquaculture could reduce environmental concerns associated with aquaculture in coastal waters. Photo courtesy of NOAA Fisheries.
We’re always looking for well-balanced discussions on innovative but occasionally controversial forms of food production. Open ocean aquaculture is an example, and we appreciate the Food & Environment Reporting Network for offering just that, suggesting that many of the environmental concerns with aquaculture are mitigated by using deep water locations.
President of the New Orleans–based Gulf Seafood Institute, Harlon Pearce knows better than anyone that wild fisheries alone can’t supply U.S. consumers’ growing demand for fish. Which is why he’s doing his best to bring everyone to the table to achieve one goal: farming the Gulf of Mexico. Continue reading
Female grunions twist their bodies tail first into the sand and lay 2,000 to 3,000 eggs, which males then fertilize. Credit Doug Martin
Thanks to Joanna Klein and the Science section of the New York Times for this explanation of a full moon mating phenomenon:
Every year, thousands of little fish ride waves onto Southern California’s beaches at night to lay and fertilize eggs. High up in the sand, they squirm, wriggle and wrap around one another. As they dance beneath the moonlight, the beach transforms into a twinkling tapestry of spawning silver bodies. It’s known as the grunion run, and within a few hours, the show is over. Continue reading
Please take a few minutes to read what follows to the end, and share it as far and wide as you can. Our thanks to Chris Wood–president and chief executive of Trout Unlimited, which needs and deserves our support for exactly the reason stated below–for writing, and the New York Times for publishing this clear statement:
THE eastern brook trout, whose native haunts in the Appalachians are a short drive from my home in Washington, is a fragile species. It requires the coldest and cleanest water to survive, and over the past two centuries, its ranks have been decimated by all that modern society could throw at it. Today it lives in a fraction of its historic range.
One reason? Thousands of miles of prime brook trout streams have been polluted by poorly regulated historic coal mining, and what has been lost is difficult to bring back. Groups like Trout Unlimited have worked with partners to restore more than 60 miles of wild trout streams damaged by acid mine drainage in Appalachia. But it is hard, painstaking work — it has taken the better part of two decades and millions of dollars, and the fact is that it would take many lifetimes to revive all the streams in need of resuscitation. Continue reading
Portland’s Gulf of Maine Research Institute has designed a trawl net that aims to target species that can still be profitable while avoiding cod. Courtesy of Gulf of Maine Research Institute
Thanks to the salt folks at National Public Radio (USA):
Some New England fishermen are pinning their hopes on a new kind of trawl net being used in the Gulf of Maine, one that scoops up abundant flatfish such as flounder and sole while avoiding species such as cod, which are in severe decline.
For centuries, cod were plentiful and a prime target for the Gulf of Maine fleet. But in recent years, catch quotas have been drastically reduced as the number of cod of reproductive age have dropped perilously low. Continue reading
Anthropocene has a good summary of this recent scientific study on freshwater fish as a potentially robust, sustainable food supply that has been neglected:
When we think of sustainable fisheries, we tend to focus on oceans and even aquaculture. But there’s an important source of fish protein that’s often overlooked: freshwater fish. An expansive new study finds that fishing pressure and other threats to freshwater fish is greatest precisely where biodiversity is greatest. It also reveals that a very high proportion of the world’s population—particularly the poor and malnourished—depend heavily on this resource for food security. Continue reading
Its numbers fluctuate, but the striped bass is far more common than it was just a few decades ago. Credit Getty Images
Thanks to Mr. Taft and the New York Times for this note of reversed fortunes for the fish, and for the anglers who champion them most vocally:
With the jutting jaw of a mob kingpin and the pinstripes of a Wall Street executive, striped bass swim through the brackish waters of New York Harbor like old-school New Yorkers — as if they own the place. Continue reading
The morning walk’s provided a different sensation from the learning component of the morning walk a few days back, giving me a jolt of new appreciation for all that I have no clue about related to life underwater; the jolter was an ethologist, of all things:
…The knifefishes of South America and the elephant-nose fishes … [are] both electric-producing, so they have EODs, which are electric organ discharges, and they use those as communication signals, and they communicate in some pretty cool ways. They will change their own frequency if they’re swimming by another fish with a similar frequency, so they don’t jam and confuse each other. They also show deference by shutting off their EODs when they’re passing by a territory holder…
Image via scidev.net
Sunscreen helps protect us from harmful sun rays, especially during the summer months when we habitually frequent the beach and enjoy the undulating caress of rolling waves. What we don’t usually take into account, however, is the impact that our “protective” sunscreen has on marine life, specifically coral reefs. Studies have shown that ingredients in sunscreen, such as oxybenzone for example, leach the coral of its nutrients and bleach it white. This not only kills the coral but also disrupts the development of fish and other wildlife.
Chemical compounds in sunscreen lotions cause irreparable damage to reefs, which are crucial to the livelihoods of 500 million people in the tropics, scientist and policymakers said at the IUCN World Conservation Congress on 3 September. Hawaii is leading a legislative effort to ban the use of sunscreen that contains oxybenzone or similar harmful agents at its beaches. Continue reading