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"It’s one of those events that should not happen, and we should try all that we can to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as possible. This is a system we don’t want to mess with."

 Niklas Boers, a researcher at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Science in Germany speaking about the urgency of a recent study on how climate change impacts on Atlantic Ocean currents could have drastic global implications. The study indicates that if the "ocean's conveyor belt," the complex system of currents ranging from the Antarctic to the Arctic stops circulating as it should, we could see catastrophic temperature changes on land and at sea, dramatically shifting climates, sea levels, and food systems.

Source: NOAA. Click the image above to see how thermohaline circulation works.
 
Tales
In high school classrooms, we talk about the complex global system of ocean currents called thermohaline circulation, or the ocean's conveyor belt. These currents drive the earth's climate systems, circulating water with different temperature and saline gradients to northern and southern latitudes. A new study now claims that an all-out collapse of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, which governs weather patterns and oceanic climates in the Atlantic, could collapse far sooner than expected. These are the kinds of science-based warnings we need to heed ... NOW. The alternative conjures the dystopian Hollywood visions of off-world colonies to escape the mess we've made of things here. Also in this newsletter, we talk about the record-setting sockeye return to Bristol Bay, AK and why we still need to protect it from the Pebble Mine; reports on scallop and soft shell clam populations in the North Atlantic; and threats to Atlantic salmon in Maine. And we take a gander at a cool "squid chameleon." Enjoy!

 
One Fish Foundation News
August 2021

Bristol Bay sockeye return sets record

Want further proof that Bristol Bay, Alaska is a special place and needs permanent protection? More than 65 million wild sockeye returned to the bay this summer, answering the primal instinct to swim upriver to their natal streams, find mates, spawn, and die. This was the largest return on record, and it marks yet another amazing run that sustains more than 15,000 jobs and a $2.2 billion economic benefit to the state. These salmon return in such huge numbers for two reasons: 1. the cold, clear waters in the Bristol Bay watershed provide excellent spawning habitat; and, 2. the Bristol Bay fishery is one of the best managed in the world. Fisheries biologists closely monitor escapement (salmon swimming past the commercial harvest to their spawning grounds) down to the minute to ensure stocks remain healthy. Sadly, this magical natural resource is still under threat from the proposed Pebble Mine, which would be one of the world's largest open pit copper mines situated at the headwaters of two of the most significant sockeye river systems. The Environmental Protection Agency must use the Clean Water Act to permanently shutter the Pebble project. And the EPA needs to hear from everyone, regardless of where you live. What happens in Bristol Bay could affect similar projects in the rest of the country. Check out the latest One Fish update blog for more context about what's at stake, why it matters, and how you can get involved.

In the near term, check out this very cool Alaska Wild Salmon Day celebration on Tues. August 10 at 4 p.m. ET featuring fabulous photographer and author Amy Gulick ("THE SALMON WAY: An Alaska State of Mind") along with Ketchikan artist Ray Troll, and dear friend, colleague and my salmon setnet teacher Melanie Brown of SalmonState. Click here to register.

Check out the bear cams at the Brooks Falls in the Katmai National Park and Preserve to see just one real-time example of the Bristol Bay watershed's amazing life force. Brown bears know how to stock up for the winter! 

 

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.
Local Catch Network #Findyourseafoodweek August 2-8 on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!
Support permanent protections for Bristol Bay
  • Stop Pebble Mine Now sign on letter to tell EPA to do its job and use the Clean Water Act to stop Pebble.
  • Tune into Mark Titus's "Save What You Love" podcast.
  • Join the Alaska Wild Salmon Day discussion Tues. August 10 at 4 p.m. ET featuring fabulous photographer and author Amy Gulick ("THE SALMON WAY: An Alaska State of Mind") along with Ketchikan artist Ray Troll, and dear friend, colleague and my salmon setnet teacher Melanie Brown of SalmonState. Click here to register.
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.
Help #BlockCorporateSalmon
Sustainable Seafood News
Here's what you need to be hearing about, thinking about, and why.
Photo: New England Fishmongers
NOAA: Atlantic scallop populations are healthy, despite harvest declines
Forty million pounds is a lot of scallops, and that's why researchers at NOAA are not worried about the decline in numbers from the last two years. Over 43 million pounds of scallops were harvested in 2020, and a whopping 60 million were harvested in 2019. Despite the decline, NOAA officials say this fluctuation is normal and that the scallop population remains healthy, even if the harvest has slowed in some major fishing areas. As Eric Hansen, owner of two scallop boats out of New Bedford put it in this Portland Press Herald article, "Nature has its own schedule."
Soft shell clam prices skyrocket as harvest dwindles
Some restaurants have stopped serving fried or steamed clams because drastically diminished harvests have forced prices to skyrocket during the past couple of decades. The soft shell clam harvest declined by as much as 75% in 40 years according to a 2016 study. There are several factors including climate change and the fact that digging clams is tough, back-breaking work. As the Gulf of Maine continues to get warmer (at a rate that is faster than 99% of the oceans on the planet), it is providing excellent habitat for European green crabs and milky ribbon worms, both of which wreak havoc on soft shell clams. We may not realize the extent of these types of changes on our marine ecosystems for several years, but it we don't figure out how to stem climate impacts while learning how to adapt to them, many other important seafood species could be pushed to the brink.
 
Weston Dam, one of four on the Kennebec River in Maine that blocks spawning migration of Atlantic salmon and other anadromous fish.  Photo: Jimmy Emerson, DVM /Flickr
Opposition mounts against two threats to wild Atlantic salmon in Maine
Struggling wild Atlantic salmon populations have been pushed to the brink because of a nasty combination of centuries of unfettered over-harvest and wanton habitat destruction via scores of dams preventing access to critical spawning grounds. Two current threats continue to hamper the species' recovery, and these issues have become battlegrounds between environmentalism and capitalism.
  • Un-damming the Kennebec River: Scientists and environmentalists have long argued that removing dams to historic salmon rivers will spark their return to spawn ... slowly, but surely.  Getting the owners of those dams, usually hydro-power companies, to agree to demolish the dams is hard. This is particularly true when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issues a misguided edict that wild salmon can coexist with four dams on the Kennebec. Several organizations and the state are looking for ways to remove the dams, either by purchasing them or filing lawsuits. It's an uphill battle, much like the salmon's journey upstream. Check out this Wabanaki perspective on what dam removal would mean to that community and the sea-run fish it has depended on for centuries.
  • Industrial finfish aquaculture: A massive net pen salmon farm is being proposed for Frenchman Bay, just outside of Acadia National Park. The farm would house up to 30 150-foot net pens with millions of fish, requiring an average of nearly 2.5 million pounds of food (either based on wild forage fish or mono-crop soy) per month. This does not include the chemical and pharmaceutical inputs to manage sea lice and disease. Not only can an operation this size pose significant threats of disease to nearby wild salmon populations, but the threat of an algal bloom from excess nutrient load (salmon poop, undigested food, etc.) could impact the entire marine ecosystem in the region. Plus, an operation this size would close 100 acres of prime lobstering grounds that have been productive for decades.
Bill to re-authorize US primary fisheries law begins its journey
Last month, Congressman Jared Huffman of California and Ed Case of Hawaii introduced the Sustaining America’s Fisheries for the Future Act, legislation to update and reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), the primary law governing federal fisheries management. Huffman and Case submitted the bill after conducting a national in-person and virtual tour listening to public input on what improvements domestic fisheries need. Some of the issues raised and included in the bill focus on incorporating climate change into management practices; supporting fishing communities; strengthening public process and transparency (inviting disparate perspectives to the policy process); improving fisheries science and data; and protecting essential fish habitats to support healthy fisheries. Hopefully, this legislation also prioritizes small-scale, independent, community-based fisheries over industrial operations, including destructive, large-scale aquaculture operations, while also providing more fair access to fish stocks to a broader demographic. We shall see.

Here is a link to a one pager on the bill.
Here is a link to the entire bill's text.

 
Fascinating Fish of the Month
Deemed by some as the "cutest creature in the ocean," the bobtail squid has its own invisibility cloak! No really, it uses symbiosis to disguise itself in the ocean. Check out this video for more on this unique squid. Photo: NSF
Hawaiian Bobtail Squid (Euprymna scolopes)

Size: up to 3 inches
Habitat: Coastal Pacific Ocean 
Good at: Bioluminescence 
Bad at: Waking up in the morning
Partner in crime: Vibrio fischeri

Look at this little cutie, and do it quickly because the Hawaiian bobtail squid is a master of disguise, burying itself in the sand during the day, and using bioluminescence to eliminate its shadow while hunting at night. Known as counterillumination, this disguise process enables the bobtail squid to "match the intensity of the light from the moon and stars" via its light organ, creating the equivalent of an invisibility cloak. It's able to do this through a symbiotic relationship with luminescent bacteria, known as Vibrio fischeri, which live in the squid's light organ. 

 
Sustainable Seafood Recipes
It's the middle of halibut season! Not sure where you can get yours? Check out the updated Local Catch Network Seafood Finder to find a provider near you! 
Halibut Cheeks Picatta from New England Fishmongers
Halibut Cheeks Picatta
Tomi Marsh, Kiyo Marsh, and Laura Cooper, New England Fishmongers

Ingredients
  • 1 lb Halibut Cheeks
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour or potato flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp capers or green peppercorns
  • Chopped fresh parsley 

Directions
1. Rinse the halibut cheeks and pat dry. In a bowl, combine flour, salt, pepper, and paprika. Dredge the halibut cheeks in the flour mixture.


2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil and butter until the butter melts and starts to bubble. Add the halibut cheeks and cook for about three minutes per side or until golden brown. Remove from the pan and keep warm. 

3. Add the broth and wine to the pan and bring to a pool. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Lower the heat and simmer until the liquid is slightly reduced about three to four minutes. Add the lemon juice, capers or green peppercorns, and the remaining butter and stir until the butter has melted. 

4. Place some sauce on each plate and top with halibut cheeks and garnish with the chopped fresh parsley. Serve with rice or crusty bread! 

 
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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.

And as always, we'd love to hear from you! Please contact us!

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