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"The rigidity of ESA is that any risk is too much risk. The Maine lobster industry does not feel that any risk is too much risk."

Genevieve McDonald, lobsterman and Maine state representative, discussing the industry's reaction to recently announced regulations that aim to reduce right whale mortality by 98% in the next decade in accordance with the federal Endangered Species Act. The issue of whether limiting traditional gear (buoys, ropes, and traps) will reduce whale entanglements and death is in litigation, pitting lobstermen, environmentalists, scientists, and policymakers against each other. The new rules could significantly downsize the $1.4 billion industry.

Lobster boats in Maine. Photo: Ted Van Pelt via Flickr
 
Tales
One of the biggest benefits of being a journalist is meeting interesting people and learning new things. (Editors note: Salary generally does not fall in that category). In my first job on a small daily, I interviewed a legally blind man who sued his town for denying him a pistol permit. I donned heavy gear and an oxygen tank to follow firefighters into a flaming building on a training burn. (I freaked out the next day because my pee was black). I had an inside look at state legal systems via gruesome murder trials and complex bankruptcy cases. In recent years, I've learned much from talking to a broad range of folks in and around the seafood supply chain. As I often tell students, there are rarely any clear, easy answers. Such has been the case with a story I'm writing for Edible Maine about the impact new restrictions aiming to reduce North Atlantic right whale deaths could have on the $1.4 billion Maine lobster industry. High emotion, strong rhetoric, and unbending will from lobstermen, conservationists, and politicians ensure this battle will continue for many years. It's challenging at best for scientists to fully understand how climate change reshapes the many complex marine relationships in the Gulf of Maine, including the whales, the plankton they eat, and their migratory patterns. Finding a workable solution will take time and a lot of compromise, which seems to be in short supply these days. In this issue, we'll look ahead to One Fish Foundation's 2022 goals, hear about new regulations for Northeast cod, northern shrimp, and Pacific halibut bycatch, as well as projections for another record wild sockeye return to Bristol Bay, AK. We'll also see further evidence of industrial farmed salmon's ecological risks. Plus a funky-looking grideye fish and a great scallop risott0 recipe. Enjoy!
One Fish Foundation News
January 2022

One Fish Foundation in 2022
We accomplished much in 2021, despite the fact that all of our classroom and public events were online. We taught over 300 high and middle school students, led a seminar for Massachusetts science teachers about sustainable seafood education, and coordinated a 6-day virtual gathering for Slow Fish North America. We connected fishermen with policymakers and advocated for protecting essential fish habitat, while also supporting community-based fishermen providing responsibly harvested seafood. In 2022, we're going to expand on that. We're going to discuss our connection to seafood as a resource with more students in more classrooms across a wider geography ... hopefully with more in-person engagement! We're going to work with more fishermen to coordinate sustainable seafood dinners where folks hear stories from the fishermen who caught the seafood they're eating. We're going to continue highlighting issues around seafood justice, advocating for equal and fair access to resources for all communities. We're going to recast our website to make it more engaging, more informative, and more of a resource for information. Most of all, we're going to continue to spread the message, one conversation at a time. Stay tuned!

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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:  www.salmonstate.org/tongass
 Help #BlockCorporateSalmon
Sustainable Seafood News
Here's what you need to be hearing about, thinking about, and why.
Photo: Jason Ching
Record sockeye salmon forecast for Bristol Bay this summer
In 2021, Bristol Bay saw record sockeye salmon numbers, coming in at 66.1 million fish. If the forecast for 2022 is accurate, however, that won’t be the record for long. University of Washington and Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologists expect more than 70 million sockeye to return to Bristol Bay this year. Both teams of biologists use several models to establish their forecasts, which are largely based on the number of salmon in different age classes returned in prior years. Based on the forecasts, all nine large river systems are predicted to have substantial runs this year. 
 
Industrial aquaculture's human and ecological costs

Chilean Aquaculture Deaths
A new report states that 14 people died while working on and around industrial aquaculture operations in Chile in 2021. The report from the Ecoceans Center lists a series of causes, ranging from electrocution to crushing, asphyxiation, fire and other issues, all pointing to lax worker safety regulations and enforcement. The study also cited a total of 68 industrial aquaculture related deaths between 2013 and 2021. This is a horrifying testimony to what can happen when massive industrialized operations prioritize profit over safety, ecological balance, and socioeconomic impact. This is the scale of the operations that would be allowed under the recently reintroduced federal AQUAA act, which would enable industrial fish farming in federal waters. See the action item above to learn more and weigh in.

Wait, we’ve seen this headline before: massive salmon die offs
In two separate incidents on three continents, industrial salmon operations lost over 1.5 million fish since October due to a variety of causes, all linked to the industrial scale of these operations.

First, Chilean salmon giant Blumar recently disclosed that 750,000 fish died because of an algal bloom.

Second, Mowi, the world's largest salmon farmer, reported a series of die offs at sites in Canada and Ireland. 
  • More than 210,000 fish were lost between 3 Canadian sites in October after the application of sea lice treatments.
  • Also in October, 489,000 fish were lost at another Canadian site, with the company citing “sudden” low dissolved oxygen levels. However, high mortality rates had been flagged at the site in early September, suggesting the cause was likely not as sudden as the company claims. 
  • More than 80,000 fish between two sites in Ireland died due to an unexpected algal bloom – with the company citing “warmer waters” as the problem.
There’s a longstanding theme in all of these stories; according to the aquaculture giants, the process is never the problem. The truth is, algal blooms are the result of excess nutrients (read: fish waste and undigested fish food) as well as warming waters. And when you have mortality that happens over a period of six weeks, that’s not a “sudden” change in dissolved oxygen. When you take hundreds of thousands of fish and concentrate them into a small area, add antibiotic and sea lice treatments, account for undigested food and fish waste, and consider the effects of climate change such as warming waters, you’re creating the perfect recipe for this scale of mortality.  This does not include other ecological impacts, like the spread of sea lice and disease to wild fish populations and the risk of escapes and competition with wild species.
 
Photo: NOAA
Atlantic cod quota reduced as stocks continue to decline
The New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC), the governing body which sets catch limits for several northeast species, has recommended
another reduction in cod quota. New England fishermen find cod in two key areas: Georges Bank and the Gulf of Maine. NEFMC reduced the Georges Bank cod catch from 2.4 million pounds down to 540,000 pounds next year. The Gulf of Maine fishing area limit will remain at 590,000 pounds. The council said the Gulf of Maine stock shows “few older fish in the population and few incoming recruits.” Last year, the total catch for cod in the US was less than 2 million pounds, compared to the 1980s when fish harvesters landed more than 100 million pounds. 

 
Fishery Council slashes Bering Sea halibut bycatch quota
The North Pacific Fisheries Management Council acted to reduce the volume of halibut bycatch from the massive groundfish harvest in the Bering Sea. This is a hotbutton issue pitting different fishing entities against one another in an effort to maintain healthy halibut stocks for those who target them, while trying to balance the interest of the pollock fleet. The council aimed for a compromise between the extremes of more drastically limiting the bycatch and keeping the cap the same. Surveys indicate halibut stocks have declined steadily over the past 15 years, suggesting existing caps on the allowable amount of halibut bycatch for pollock trawlers were not working. The largely Seattle-based trawl fleet discarded (threw overboard, often killing the fish in the process) on average 2.2 million pounds of halibut a year. That is fish that several commercial boats and Indigenous communities from Alaska depend on. The new regulation ties the bycatch limit directly to stock health: In good years, the bycatch level will remain the same. In poor years, it will be cut by as much as 35%. Though bottom trawl fleet lobbyists complain the new limit will cost jobs and revenue, they ignore a persistent irony with fisheries management decisions. Reduced quotas, based on good science, ultimately boost the stock health and therefore long-term harvests.
 
Photo: Maine Sea Grant/Ken LaValley
New England Shrimp Fishery to remain closed
Maine’s northern shrimp fishery will remain closed for at least another 3 years, but officials with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission are considering opening a limited small personal-use fishery. The fishery has been closed since 2014. The Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) advocates a personal-use fishery that allows the harvest, but not sale, of shrimp. Maine DMR also hopes that this route would help collect more data, as funding for species surveys is waning. Surveys done this summer showed low numbers in abundance, biomass, and number of baby shrimp for that time of year, emphasizing the species' struggling health. The proposed fishery would include a 3 trap limit with a daily limit of 25 pounds per harvester, and the season would be open for a short 2-week window. Late last year, new research cited the longfin squid as a possible predator that may have played a key role in the dramatic loss of the northern shrimp in the Gulf of Maine since 2012. Scientists also speculate the warming waters in the Gulf of Maine likely have shifted the plankton migration the shrimp depend on for spawning. 

 
Fascinating Fish of the Month
Looking like it stuck its tail in a light socket, the grideye fish has turned to solar power to reduce its personal emissions. Actually, it's eyes are photosensitve, allowing the fish to see its prey better. Photo: NOAA
Grideye Fish (Ipnops meadi)

Size: 2-4 inches
Habitat: Abyssal plains; 3,000-5,000 meters
Good at: Looking at things from a different perspective
Bad at: Noticing details


A dweller of the deep sea, the grideye fish is easily recognized by it’s plate-like eyes atop it’s head. The eyes lack a lens, qualifying them more as photosensitive plates, since the fish only detect differences in light. Detecting the differences in light is thought to be key in detecting bioluminescent predators and prey in the darkness at the bottom of the ocean.
Sustainable Seafood Recipes
It's finally scallop season in New England! This month we're bringing you a recipe from Cape Ann Fresh Catch that features a risotto that will warm you up in the chilly days to come. Photo: New England Fishmongers
Saffron and Lemon Risotto with Scallops
Cape Ann Fresh Catch

Ingredients
  • 16 Scallops
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, extra for brushing
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ cup arborio rice
  • 1 tsp crumbled saffron threads
  • 5 cups fish or vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
Directions
  1. Place the scallops in a glass bowl and mix with lemon juice. Cover and chill for 15 minutes. 
  2. Melt 2 tbsp of butter with oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onions, stirring occasionally until soft. Add the rice and mix to coat. Cook, stir until rice is translucent. Dissolve the saffron in 4 tbsp of hot stock and add to the rice. Gradually add the remaining stock, stirring constantly until the liquid is absorbed and rice is creamy, season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  3. Preheat a grill pan over high heat. Brush the scallops with oil and sear on the pan for 3-4 minutes on each side. Don’t overcook or they’ll become rubbery.
  4. Remove the risotto from the heat and add the remaining butter. Mix well and then stir in the cheese until it melts. Season with lemon juice, adding 1 tsp at a time and taste as you go. Serve the risotto with scallops and lemon wedges arranged on top. 
 
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We are a small non-profit with big impact. Every dollar goes toward classroom and community education, engagement, and participation as we change our eating habits and the domestic seafood supply chain, one conversation at a time. Your donation helps us grow the community of those who care about where their seafood comes from, the people who harvest it, and protecting the resource we all depend on. One Fish Foundation is a 501(3) non-profit organization, and all donations are tax deductible.

 
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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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