The Beacon

Blog Tags: Monterey Bay Aquarium

Shark Fin Soup Minus the Sharks

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Every year, tens of millions of sharks are killed for their fins alone. Shark fins are used to make shark fin soup, a popular and expensive dish that is a symbol of wealth and status primarily in Asian cultures.

The demand for fins can lead to cruel and wasteful practices, such as cutting off a shark’s fins at sea and then throwing the rest of the shark, sometimes still alive, back into the water. And shark fin soup can be dangerous to humans. Since sharks are at the top of the food chain, they accumulate toxins like mercury, which is a dangerous neurotoxin.

So are there any alternatives to shark fin soup? Shark fins themselves have no taste and are used only for texture. In traditional shark fin soup recipes, chicken or fish stock is added to give the soup flavor which means that there are a lot of ways to enjoy shark fin soup without using shark fins – like this recipe from the Monterey Bay Aquarium:


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Unsustainable Seafood Dinner Makes a Splash

While some of you may be sticking to New Year’s resolutions to make sustainable seafood choices in 2011, not everyone is following suit.

Namely, Legal Sea Foods CEO Roger Berkowitz, who is hosting a dinner later this month with the New England Culinary Guild featuring what he calls “blacklisted” seafood, such as black tiger shrimp, Atlantic cod and Atlantic hake, which are all on the Monterey Bay Aquarium guide’s “avoid” list.

This provocative stab at sustainable seafood designations has taken some heat, not surprisingly. Jacqueline Church and Miriam at Deep Sea News both did some digging into the company’s claims and the science that Legal is trumpeting as “outdated.”


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Whole Foods Adopts Seafood Rating System

© Oceana/Emily Fisher

As you’ve probably heard, Whole Foods Market announced last week that it is partnering with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program and Blue Ocean Institute to label all the wild-caught seafood in its North American stores according to their sustainability criteria.

A green label means the fish is relatively abundant and the fishing method causes little damage, yellow indicates that some problems exist with abundance or fishing method, and red means the fish is overfished or the fishing method seriously harms other wildlife or natural habitats. The company has also pledged to eliminate all red-list seafood by Earth Day 2013.

I wanted to see this new rating system for myself, so I headed to the nearest Whole Foods store around lunchtime yesterday. In addition to having a mercury warning clearly posted, the seafood counter’s new stoplight-color rating system appeared prominent and easy to understand.


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Ocean Hero Finalists: Diana Gonzalez

diana gonzalez

This is the eleventh and final post in a series about this year’s Ocean Hero finalists.

Rounding out our Ocean Heroes finalist series is Diana Gonzalez, who became an ocean activist by accident -- and is making a big difference.

As a high school freshman last year, she was signed up for a marine science course, but decided she wanted to take choir instead. Her counselor said it wasn’t possible, so she kept the class.

She's been singing the ocean's praises ever since.


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Ocean Hero Finalists: Ayla Besemer

ayla besemer

Ayla Besemer (Age 8 in the photo) relocates a sea start that washed up on the beach. Image courtesy the Besemer family.

This is the seventh in a series of posts about this year’s Ocean Hero finalists.

Last week I highlighted our adult Ocean Hero finalists, so this week it’s the juniors’ turn. First up is 13-year-old Ayla Besemer, who may just be the next Al Gore -- for the oceans. (Except she is way cuter.)

Inspired by the beauty of the creatures in the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” 13-year-old Ayla and her friend Simon created “Save Our Seas,” an interactive presentation kids everywhere can give that highlights ocean threats and 15 actions kids can take today.

To date, Ayla has given her “Save Our Seas” presentation to more than 1,500 people in seven states and the Bahamas.


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