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“As oyster farmers, we are producers, but we are also producing plastic waste through our aquaculture practices. It’s not just thinking about what we bring to market, but [thinking about] everything that is involved in the process. We shouldn’t be using plastic in this way.”

Abby Barrows, a research scientist who has conducted studies on marine microplastics and their impacts around the world. She raises oysters on Long Cove Sea Farm in Stonington, Maine.

Sharing hopeful stories is important when exploring some of climate change's impacts. Click on the image to see 10 years of global ocean warming animated.

I often walk a fine line between informing students about climate change impacts on marine ecosystems and scaring the bejeezus out of them.  Most teachers I work with encourage offering hope when talking about sea level rise, ocean acidification, and staggering oceanic temperature increases. That's why I invited Severine Von Tscharner Flemming of Smithereen Farm in Pembroke, Maine to share her story with one of my high school classrooms (remotely) last fall. She and Abby Barrows, quoted above, did some very cool research using plastic alternatives to raising oysters and kelp to minimize microplastic impacts on oceans. Students asked good questions and engaged in broader conversations about adaptation and why they should look for solutions locally first. Adaptation has meant survival for many businesses like New England Fishmongers, which has shifted from wholesale and restaurant deliveries to home delivery and market popups and now direct-to-customer sales via a retail store and restaurant. Because it continues to uplift the values that support community-based fisheries, New England Fishmongers recently earned the Snow Fish Snail of Approval award. Also in this issue, we'll look at the world's largest fish breeding colony, a cool CSF doing good work in Philadelphia, good news for wild salmon, industrial seafood stories, and the Tasseled Wobbegong. And we offer a delicious monkfish recipe from Chef Duncan Boyd. Enjoy!
One Fish Foundation News
February 2022
Abby Barrows showing off an oyster rack made without plastic. Standing next to her are Smithereen Farm interns Lydia Lapporte and Marcus Mamourian. Photo: Hudson Cohn.

Seeking alternatives to plastic in aquaculture
Inspiring people inspire. I am fortunate in my work to meet several folks doing great work to raise awareness about issues like  changing ocean environments, fair access to ocean resources, direct supply chains and thoughtful marine policy. Two examples of this are Abby Barrows and Severine Von Tscharner Fleming of Downeast Maine. They teamed up on a project to find alternatives to plastic in aquaculture with some interesting results. Check out an overview of their work and their laudable goals in my recent Edible Maine column.

Recognizing values-based seafood businesses
Congratulations to New England Fishmongers for earning the first Slow Fish North America Snail of Approval Award. The Snail of Approval is an award, not a certification, that uplifts Slow Fish values of good, clean, fair by recognizing businesses living those values. New England Fishmongers exemplifies that standard. Capt. Tim Rider has been a vocal supporter of Slow Fish values and community-based fisheries for over a decade. He has visited Capitol Hill, spoken out at numerous fisheries council meetings against catch shares and battled significant headwinds in the process. He and Kayla Cox have built a growing loyal customer base in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. Find the New England Fishmongers in the map locations space of the Snail of Approval website here for more info.

Donate to One Fish Foundation Now
Opportunities for Action
Here are concrete action items and opportunities to make your voice heard or to learn more about crucial issues.
Support permanent protections for Bristol Bay
Sign on letter calling for a stop to Canadian mining near salmon rivers
  • Salmon Beyond Borders' sign on letter to the Biden Administration calling for outreach to Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau to ban toxic mining near critical, cross-boundary salmon watersheds such as the Taku, Stikine and Unuk rivers.
Take action to defend the Tongass National Forest
  • Watch "UNDERSTORY", a compelling documentary about the magic, mystery, and immense importance of the Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska. This documentary follows a young fisherwoman's stunning journey to protect the world's largest remaining coastal temperate rainforest.
  • Take action by signing on to this letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack:
 Help #BlockCorporateSalmon
Sustainable Seafood News
Here's what you need to be hearing about, thinking about, and why.
Photo: NOAA
World's largest fish breeding colony found off Antarctica
A ghostly fish whose blood is transparent, possibly to keep it from crystallizing in frigid Antarctic waters, congregates in what is likely the world's largest fish breeding c0lony, according to recent research. For the first time ever, researchers last February identified a colony of about 60 million icefish on nests in 1,600 feet of water spread out over a 93 square mile area in the Weddell Sea. The icefish, whose skull is transparent in order to better see predators in dark depths, is the only vertebrate without red blood cells. Scientists believe the transparent blood carries an antifreeze protein to keep the fish alive in waters hovering around 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The discovery raises many questions, including why icefish nest in such massive numbers and what role that plays in predation. One speculation is that resident seals taking advantage of the relatively thin ice in the area have a fairly nice buffet awaiting them with such a large biomass. Either way, this is another example of how much we have yet to learn about our ocean depths, and ultimately, what our impact may be on these as yet undiscovered ecosystems.
New scholarship aims to bring young folks into Georgia fisheries 
A new partnership between the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Coastal Pines Technical College Foundation hopes to “address concerns of the graying of the fleet.” Graying of the fleet -- when fisheries knowledge disappears as longtime fishermen leave the business and few younger fishermen enter the industry to acquire that knowledge -- is a national problem within commercial fisheries, making programs like this essential to the longevity and health of the U.S. fishing industry. Students enrolled in Coastal Pines Technical College’s Basic Fishermen Program can apply for funds to cover tuition, equipment, training, and commercial fishing licenses. This is a heartening example of institutional efforts to bolster a critical transfer of knowledge to preserve the industry.

Fishadelphia featured by NOAA 
Check this out! The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) featured our friends at Fishadelphia in a recent newsletter. Fishadelphia aims to connect low-income communities in Northern Philadelphia with fish harvesters, increasing access to nutritious seafood. But get this – it’s run by high school students! Fishadelphia was awarded the Saltonstall-Kennedy (S-K) Grant in 2020 for its work. NOAA cited the CSF's focus on continuing to “promote improved business practices, increased market demand for U.S. commercial fish species, and keeping working waterfronts viable.” 
Photo: NOAA
Salmon: The Comeback Kids 
  • Threatened Coho trying to make a comeback near San Francisco -- Researchers recently spotted coho salmon spawning in a small creek in the San Geronimo valley for the first time in nearly 20 years. This is encouraging news after some scientists speculated the coho in the Marin region of California were near extinction due to a combination of habitat loss, competition with farmed fish, over harvest, climate change (lack of rain to swim upstream), and barriers (such as dams) to spawning grounds. Researchers speculate that recent good rainfall and the removal of a golf course dam enabled the coho to return. Though coho used to return to the valley in the thousands, the fact a couple hundred have been returning on average is encouraging. This story demonstrates that removing physical barriers to spawning grounds like dams can help restore stocks of critical species like wild coho. We just need to take a more active role in minimizing climate effects too.
  • Okanagan Salmon Returning -- A fish tale as old as time: human-caused habitat destruction from logging and farming, and the damming of rivers over the last two centuries decimated the salmon population in the Okanagan River in British Columbia. Today, however, the salmon are returning, thanks to the hard work and dedication of the Okanagan Nation Alliance fish hatchery, kł cp̓əlk̓ stim̓. The hatchery collects salmon milt from spawning salmon and brings it back to the hatchery where it will inseminate hundreds of eggs. Because of this work, wild salmon populations are returning to levels that can sustain Syilx Okanagan communities.
Photo: Sea Shepherd
The Industrial Side of Seafood
  • Industrial trawler dumps 100,000 dead fish off France -- The world's second largest trawler - with a net that stretches over a kilometer in length - reportedly released over 100,000 dead fish (photo above) off the coast of France last week. The vessel's Dutch owners claimed at the time that the fish spilled out of a ruptured trawl net.  However, watchdogs from Sea Shepherd suspect the vessel's crew intentionally dumped the blue whiting because they didn't want to process those fish. If so, this would be a violation of European Union laws. Talk about a stark example of what can go wrong with industrial-scale fishing operations.  
  • Tyson-backed company buys cell grown lobster maker -- Want proof that cell-grown seafood has links to the industrialized seafood supply chain? A company backed by conglomerate Tyson Foods has just purchased Cultured Decadence, the Wisconsin operation aiming to produce cell-grown lobster, or labster. The implications of this are significant. That kind of financial and promotional backing could not only make this stuff a reality, but perhaps a pervasive presence on store shelves. And those who don't read labels may not know what they're eating. Check out a recent story I wrote for Edible Maine.
Frustrations with Federal Management
The United States has some of the best fisheries management in the world. However, that doesn't mean there aren't challenges. Here are a couple of examples of where policies are doing more of a disservice to fishermen, fisheries, and the species that should be properly protected.
  • NOAA declared a disaster for fisheries related to the the Bering Sea and returning salmon, but limited its response to actually protecting some keystone species, like chinook and halibut, which are subject to bycatch from the massive Pacific pollock trawl fleet. This is akin to treating the symptom but not addressing the root cause. There are many factors affecting chinook and halibut populations. Providing financial assistance to fishermen is certainly welcome, but it won't stop the documented impact that wanton trawl operations from Washington state have on chinook, halibut, chum and other commercially viable and important subsistence species in the Bering Sea.
  • The severe restrictions placed on lobstermen in Maine and Massachusetts to reduce North Atlantic right whale deaths could force many lobstermen out of business and deal a heavy blow to the billion-dollar industry. The bulk of the responsibility for mitigating these deaths is on lobstermen, and not on shipping, which accounts for a significant portion of the 34 documented whale deaths since 2017. Maine lobstermen say they are struggling to find the breakaway ropes they need to comply with the May 1 deadline. Switching to this new gear would be costly, time consuming, and may not work as expected, many lobstermen say. The Maine state legislature is mulling a proposal to provide funding to offset some of these costs.  
Fascinating Fish of the Month
Careful where you step! The Tassled Wobbegong, a carpet shark, lays in wait for its prey in shallow coral reefs. 
Photo:  Jon Hanson - originally posted to Flickr as tasseled wobbegong shark, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link
Tasseled Wobbegong (Eucrossorhinus dasypogon)

Size: 5.9 feet long
Habitat: shallow coral reefs
Good at: Decorating the floor
Bad at: Grooming its beard

A species of carpet shark, the Tasseled Wobbegong inhabits coral reefs off the coast of Australia. Tasseled wobbegongs get their name from the fringe around their head, which is used to camouflage them on the bottom of the sea floor. Even their species name dasypogon literally translates to "hairy beard." Resting during the day inside caves or under ledges, it uses its tail to lure prey in by mimicking small fish and comes out at night to forage. 

Sustainable Seafood Recipes
Not winning any beauty contests, monkfish are a delicious and responsibly managed (read: abundant) species known for its firm, sweet-flavored flesh comparable to lobster meat. Perhaps that's why it's called the "poor man's lobster." Monkfish is particularly good in seafood stews and similar dishes in winter. Photo: NOAA
Yankee Style Monkfish (for a cold night)
This recipe comes to us from former One Fish Foundation board member Chef Duncan Boyd, who has run several fine dining restaurants along the Atlantic Coast, and now provides consulting services for restaurant operations.

Serves: 4

  • 12 medallions of monkfish 1.5-2 oz each (about 3/4" thick)
  • 4oz good bacon medium dice
  • 3/4 lbs brussels sprouts, cleaned and quartered
  • 6 oz crimini mushrooms cleaned and quartered
  • 1 large granny smith apple, peeled, cored and cut in 1/2" chunks
  • 1 large shallot, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 6 oz broth (fish, chicken or veg)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup wondra flour for dusting (AP works)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • couple of drops lemon juice or cider vinegar
1. Bring 4qt lightly salted water to boil, add brussels sprouts, blanch 4-5 min. drain and shock with cold water, drain again.
2. In a 12 inch cast iron skilled over medium low heat add vegetable oil, then bacon, stir often and cook bacon to desired crispness, remove with slotted spoon.
3. Pour off 1/2 bacon fat (optional) and increase heat to medium high. season medallions with salt and pepper, dust both sides with flour.
4. Cook medallions for 2 minutes on each side, remove from pan to a dish.
5. Add mushrooms, shallot and thyme cook 3-4 min, stir often
6. Add brussels sprouts and broth, simmer 3-4 minutes
7. Add apples, bacon, monkfish including juices (make sure fish and apples are in -not on top of ragout) return to simmer 4-5 minutes.
8. Remove from heat swirl in butter and lemon/vinegar.

Enjoy! If you're feeling adventurous, sprinkle dish with chopped toasted walnuts!

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Thanks for joining us as we continue the discussion about why we all need to know where, when, how and by whom our seafood was harvested. We hope to build a community of knowledgeable consumers who individually and collectively are making a difference with each seafood choice they make, and conversation they have.

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