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Blog Tags: Tuna

Western Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Gain New Protections

NMFS created protections for western Atlantic bluefin tuna

Bluefin tuna (Thynnus thynnus). (Photo:  Oceana / Keith Ellenbogen)

Western Atlantic bluefin tuna are sleek, torpedo-like fish that can power through the ocean’s depths at over 40 miles per hour. They’re top ocean predators, preying on mackerel, herring, squid, eels, and crustaceans, but they’re also some of the most coveted fish in the world.


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Ocean Roundup: Costa Rica Restricts Industrial Tuna Fishing, West Coast Sea Stars May Be Making a Comeback, and More

Sea stars may be reviving on the West Coast

A sunflower sea star. Sea stars are said to be making a comeback from sea star wasting syndrome. (Photo: light-bends / Flickr Creative Commons)

- The United Kingdom’s chief scientist is sounding the alarm on climate change, warning that the oceans can only absorb about one-third of what they’re emitting. His warning comes after new studies highlight how ocean acidification affects animals from sea urchins to lugworms. BBC News


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Impacts of Climate Change on Highly Migratory Species Prioritized in NMFS Management Plan

Bluefin tuna are a highly migratory species affected by climate change

A bluefin tuna, a migratory species affected by climate change. (Photo: Oceana / Keith Ellenbogen)

Many marine species face endless obstacles: Overfishing, pollution, and habitat destruction are large threats, as well as climate change and its associated negative impacts. Factors ranging from their habitat, food source, predator defense, migration routes, and breeding grounds are already changing from warming seas, and these impacts are so widespread that it’s caught fisheries managers’ attention.


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EU Subsidies Hurt Both Fishermen and Fish

© OCEANA / Juan Cuetos

This tragic front page report from the International Herald Tribune shows that fishing subsidies have not only devastating effects on fish, but on the fishermen who catch them as well. In boom times, EU fishing subsidies encouraged Spanish fishermen to upgrade to larger, more destructive vessels, only to find their fishing quotas drastically reduced once the fish stocks were depleted.

Many fishermen now find themselves dependent on the government subsidies which are propping up an unprofitable industry that, in the EU, is two to three times larger than what sustainable limits allow. As the article says:

“The impact has devastated much of Spain’s coastal economy. It has also generated intensifying criticism of European Union policies that, environmental groups and experts say, have increased fishing communities’ dependency on subsidies to make up for the decline in both revenues and fish populations, even as the bloc continues to pay generous subsidies to scrap older vessels to upgrade Europe’s fleet. The new boats are typically bigger and more powerful, adding pressure on declining fish populations.”

The article also references an Oceana study published last year that outlines the insanity of the European Union’s fishing subsidy policies. According to that study 13 of the 27 EU countries receive subsidies larger than the value of their catch.

A separate report in 2010, A bottom-up re-estimation of global fisheries subsidies, estimated that, worldwide, $16 billion in annual fishing subsidies directly promoted overfishing. The report stated, “The role of subsidies to the issue of overcapacity and overfishing cannot be sufficiently emphasized.”

Help Oceana fight to end these destructive and counterproductive subsidies and to restore the abundance of the oceans.


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Guest Post: Live from the Seafood Summit

©Wikimedia Commons

Editor's note: This is a guest post by Simone Lewis-Koskinen, Program Assistant at SeaWeb, reporting from the Seafood Summit in Hong Kong. Oceana is a sponsor of the summit. 

After many months and several thousand emails, phone calls and meetings, the Seafood Summit has arrived! SeaWeb’s 10th Annual Seafood Summit in Hong Kong, kicked off this Wednesday with a series of pre-Summit activities exploring the existing and future horizons of the eco-certification landscape, investment mechanisms for fisheries and local seafood markets. Despite the jet lag, most of the participants were in high spirits and eager to mingle, setting the tone for what’s sure to be the best Summit yet.

The following three days will see a flurry of panels, workshops and meetings that get at the heart of some of the most pressing issues facing the seafood industry. From climate change to Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing, the topics run the gamut, promising a healthy dose of debate and discussion.

Panels addressing tuna and shark issues are particularly likely to spark some heated debates given the cultural and traditional ties to the region. From Friday’s panel discussion on local trends around shark fins and consumer attitudes, to Saturday’s workshop on sustainable shark fisheries, Hong Kong is shaping up to be the perfect place to elevate these dialogues to the next level.

Other sessions likely to provide some interesting food for thought examine the relationship between seafood and the consumer, exploring the various avenues to engage consumers in the discussion. As the Holy Grail for many conservation groups, sessions sharing tools and lessons learned around translating consumer awareness into behavior change are sure to spark a lot of interest.

The Seafood Summit is an annual event hosted by SeaWeb that brings together global representatives from the seafood industry and conservation community for in-depth discussions, presentations and networking around the issue of sustainable seafood. The goal of the Summit is to foster dialogue and partnerships that lead to a seafood marketplace that is environmentally, socially and economically sustainable. The breadth and depth of topics, discussions and perspectives serves as a catalyst for new solutions as one of the premiere events in the seafood community.

Looking back at past Summits, this year’s event represents the first steps into new territory. Traditionally held in Europe and North America, bringing the Seafood Summit to Hong Kong is an important step for helping the sustainable seafood movement engage more effectively with the Asian marketplace. Many of the presentations so far have acknowledged the growing role Asia has and will continue to play in the path towards sustainability. In the days, months and years to come, this initial foray will surely be remembered as setting the stage for many of the lasting relationships formed at the 2012 Seafood Summit.  


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Video: Mercury from Source to Seafood

The health benefits of seafood are well-documented, but some people avoid eating it after hearing reports of high mercury levels. This video might help make things a little clearer.

Produced by the Dartmouth Toxic Metals Superfund Research Program, the video explains how mercury gets into water and then into the fish that we eat. Burning coal releases mercury into the air and increases its concentrations in our waterways. Depending on where in the food chain a fish is, it could have low levels of mercury or high levels that could be unhealthy.

Eating seafood has many health benefits—it has important Omega 3 fatty acids and is low in the saturated fats you find in other animal proteins, especially red meat. Many fish are safe and healthy to eat. While shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, and tuna have higher mercury levels, there are plenty of other options that are safe to eat. You can find responsible and healthy seafood choices in our Sustainable Seafood Guide

Check out the video, which also features Oceana senior scientist Kim Warner, to learn more about how mercury builds up in the environment and how to stay healthy while including seafood in your diet.


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Searching for a More Responsible Way to Farm Fish

A salmon farm in Chile. © Oceana/ Eduardo Sorensen

Almost half of the world’s seafood now comes from fish farms, which can cause significant environmental harm if not responsibly managed.

Because many fish are confined to a small area, aquaculture can lead to high levels of pollution and outbreaks of diseases. Sometimes the farmed fish escape, which can hurt wild fish populations and the local ecosystem. Aquaculture can also lead to overfishing since carnivorous fish, like salmon and tuna, are fed large amounts of fishmeal made from prey fish like anchovies or herrings.

The Velella Project is an experiment off the coast of Hawaii that is trying to address some of the problems associated with aquaculture. Instead of enclosing fish in stationary nets or tanks like traditional farming methods, a specially-designed spherical pen, called the Aquapod, drifts through the water containing 2,000 hatchery born fish.


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New Report: Widespread Seafood Fraud in LA

Red snapper is often mislabeled. [image via Wikimedia Commons]

Something’s fishy in Los Angeles.

That’s according to our new report, which found widespread seafood mislabeling in the LA-area. DNA testing confirms that 55 percent of the seafood our campaigners sampled was mislabeled based on federal law.

In May and December of 2011, Oceana staff and supporters collected 119 seafood samples from grocery stores, restaurants and sushi venues in Los Angeles and Orange counties. The targeted species included those that were found to be mislabeled in previous studies as well as those with regional significance such as wild salmon, Dover or other regional soles, red snapper, yellowtail and white tuna. 

Among the report’s other key findings include:

  • Fraud was detected in 11 out of 18 different types of fish purchased.
  • Every single fish sold with the word “snapper” in the label (34 out of 34) was mislabeled, according to federal guidelines.
  • Nearly nine out of every ten sushi samples was mislabeled.
  • Eight out of nine sushi samples labeled as “white tuna” were actually escolar, a species that carries a health warning for it laxative effects.

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Seafood for Thought: Are You Eating Mercury?

© Oceana/Juan Cuetos

Editor's note: October is National Seafood Month, and to celebrate, we’ll be featuring a series of blog posts about seafood, sustainable fishing and health. Today we’re taking on mercury.

Maybe when you think of mercury you think of old thermometers. But did you know that mercury in seafood can affect your health?

As a result of antiquated manufacturing techniques, a few chlorine factories release mercury pollution into nearby rivers and streams, which ends up in the ocean, where it travels up the food chain, becoming more and more concentrated in larger and larger fish, including favorites such as tuna and swordfish.

What’s the danger of mercury in fish? Mercury is a neurotoxin and can cause symptoms such as headaches, foggy thinking, muscle stiffness, dizziness, nausea, and hair loss. Mercury is dangerous for women who are or may become pregnant because children are particularly susceptible to the effects of mercury poisoning.

The best way to protect yourself and your family is to learn what kinds of seafood have high mercury levels and to consume these only in moderation. The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch guide contains information about mercury levels as well as about sustainability.

We’ve made progress over the years, both in requiring stores to provide information about mercury and in getting companies to switch to less dangerous ways of producing chlorine. However, mercury in fish remains an issue. Just this summer, Oceana was instrumental in convincing the Spanish government to release a study finding that more than half of mako shark and swordfish samples had dangerous levels of mercury.

You can learn more about mercury and you can also take action by asking Walmart and Sam’s Club to post safety notifications about mercury in fish.


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Friday Infographic: Fishing Down the Food Chain

This is the second in a series of ocean infographics by artist Don Foley. These infographics also appear in Oceana board member Ted Danson’s book, “Oceana: Our Endangered Oceans and What We Can Do to Save Them.”  

With shark week fast approaching, how about a shark-related infographic to whet your appetite?

Today’s infographic illustrates how overfishing fundamentally alters ocean ecosystems, leading to fewer and smaller fish over time.

Infographic by Don Foley

If overfishing isn’t stopped, the largest fish like sharks, tuna, cod, and salmon eventually run out and overfishing expands to previously untargeted, smaller spe­cies, some of which were considered undesirable. As a result, the world catch is now primarily made up of small fish like pollock rather than large predators like grouper, and this shift to smaller and smaller species over time is called “fishing down the food chain.”


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