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“The ocean needs our help. What we’re doing with kelp is one of a thousand global solutions that needs to be implemented immediately if we’re serious about saving the ocean, let alone the planet.”
 
 
Dune Lankard, founder and president of the Native Conservancy, talking about habitat restoration and a program to reconnect Indigenous communities to millennia of kelp farming practices during the recent Slow Fish North America/Slow Food USA AQUAA Act webinar. He explained how these localized harvests benefit their communities, coastal ecosystems, and the marine resources they depend on.  

 
Tales

Welcome Spring! Birds are laying eggs, bears are coming out of their dens and various species of fish are on the move, swimming either to spawn soon or fatten up before spawning later in the year. It's a busy time for sustainable seafood conversations as well. The Slow Fish North America/Slow Food USA webinar on the AQUAA Act was a great deep dive into what the policy is, what its impacts are, and what folks can do to make their voices heard. One Fish Foundation had another in-person class visit in Portland that was coupled with a visit to a large retail/wholesale seafood market, engaging students in discussions about the entire supply chain. Also in this issue, we discuss the EPA's impending public comment period on protecting Bristol Bay, AK, a video about Indigenous access to natural resources, the impact Canadian coal mines have on downstream transboundary wild fish populations, the issue of dam removals in Maine, dwindling Atlantic cod harvests, the termination of a major fish farm project application in Maine, and microplastics challenges on land and sea. Also, meet the Threadfin Snailfish, and try the island-style fried cape shark (dogfish) recipe.
Enjoy!
One Fish Foundation News
May 2022
Heidi Blackett of Harbor Fish Market talking to Deering High School students about locally sourced oysters from small-scale producers.

Visiting the classroom, then the fish store

I like to give students a variety of perspectives and opportunities to connect with the content. Sometimes that means teaching them how to determine the sex of a green crab, or having them figure out how a turtle excluder device works. Last week, a day after visiting senior Marine Ecology students at Deering High School in Portland, ME, we took the class on a tour of Harbor Fish Market. In the classroom, we discussed global and domestic seafood consumption habits, different wild harvest and aquaculture methods, climate impacts with a specific focus on how the warming Gulf of Maine is affecting right whale migratory patterns, which in turn affects lobster regulations. The next day, we looked at the retail end of the supply chain, learning how seafood sourcing happens on a large scale and how different species are processed. One conversation at a time. 

AQUAA Act webinar highlights aquaculture with values

What is aquaculture with values? And how does that conversation relate to the potential impact of the Advancing the Quality of American Aquaculture (AQUAA) Act bill in Congress? Those questions were part of the focus of the Slow Fish North America/Slow Food USA webinar hosted on April 28. A team of thought leaders including Marianne Cufone of Recirculating Farms Coalition and Don't Cage Our Oceans Coalition, Dune Lankard of the Native Conservancy, Severine Von Tscharner Fleming of Smithereen Farm in Maine, and Chef Renee Erickson of Sea Creatures restaurants in Seattle discussed the difference between aquaculture with values and industrial-scale seafood farming. We talked about the threat of opening up federal waters to barely regulated massive aquaculture operations, and explored examples of community-focused kelp and shellfish farming from Dune and Severine. We also talked about how chefs, their customers, and seafood eaters everywhere need to take more ownership of knowing where their seafood comes from and why that matters.
 

LCN Local Seafood Summit Registration is Open!
Join the Local Catch Network for the 4th Local Seafood Summit on October 2-3, 2022 in Girdwood, Alaska! Seafood harvesters, businesses, and allied partners from across North America will gather for an immersive two-day summit to network with like-minded peers, exchange best practices, and work together to identify and elevate key and emerging issues and opportunities to Build the Future of Local and Regional Seafood Systems. Space is limited and early registration is strongly encouraged. Receive early registration rates until June 1, 2022. Visit the LCN website for more information about the summit and discount details for travel, lodging, and more.

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Calls for Action
Here are concrete action items and opportunities to make your voice heard
or learn more about crucial issues.
Call your representatives in D.C. about industrial aquaculture 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.
F/V Ava Jane Capt. Steve Kurian and crew are just a few drops in the sea of people that depend on Bristol Bay for fresh, healthy salmon. Photo: Wild for Salmon
EPA set to open public comment period on Pebble Mine
The Environmental Protection Agency will soon announce the opening of the public comment period regarding protecting Bristol Bay from the proposed Pebble Mine. The project was on death's doorstep in 2014 when the Obama administration cited the Clean Water Act to start the process of preemptively rejecting the permit needed to begin operations. However, the process was never completed, and the mine quickly came back to life under the Trump administration before again suffering a major setback when the EPA rejected its permit in the fall of 2020. When the public comment period opens, the EPA needs to hear loudly that Bristol Bay is too valuable a resource to sacrifice at the alter of profit-driven mining. We'll keep you posted as to when the comment period begins. See the Calls to Action below  for more info.

Wild fish deformities traced to trans-boundary mines

White sturgeon, burbot, and cutthroat trout in British Columbia, Montana and Idaho are among several species of fish that are feeling the effects of Canadian coal mines. In a thorough report in The Narwhal, journalists traced deformities such as curved spines, malformed heads, and swelling that prevented proper eating to high concentrations of selenium leaching into vital watersheds from several mining operations. Though selenium occurs naturally in the bedrock, the mining process is exposing much of it to rain and runoff, spreading it widely across international boundaries. This issue affects Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, as well as subsistence and recreational fishing up and down the watershed. Folks in these communities are calling for an international, holistic approach that factors in fair and equitable feedback from these communities in addressing the downstream impacts.
 
2021 Atlantic cod harvest lowest ever
For years federal fisheries managers have cut the quota (total allowable catch) of Atlantic cod as their populations have dropped precipitously. Newly released data suggests Maine fish harvesters landed the lowest volume of cod ever in 2021. Due to a combination of restrictive quotas, population declines and climate change, Maine harvesters tallied 50,000 pounds of Atlantic cod, a fraction of the massive harvests of the 1990s, which reached 20 million pounds. Make no mistake that we fished the hell out of cod for too long without really understanding the long-term sustainability of those harvests. But climate change is having a significant impact as well. One example: black sea bass is a mid-Atlantic fish that has been showing up more frequently in Maine lobster traps. This isn't good for multiple reasons. Aside from the substantially lower market value, sea bass love to feast on juvenile lobster, which young cod also depend on for their survival. Climate-driven ecosystem impacts are significant, and we must take them into account when addressing shifting seafood populations like Atlantic cod.

 
Hillary Renick discusses how treaties were made and ignored during Patagonia's new Holdfast film.
New video highlights struggle to preserve Indigenous food systems
Hillary Renick is an enrolled member of the Sherwood Valley Band of Pomo Indians and a scholar who often speaks by invitation about the history and current state of Indigenous access to natural resources and cultural food systems. She spoke eloquently during the Slow Fish 2021 Virtual Gathering about what's at stake when governments and private entities block Native communities from accessing kelp, abalone, salmon and other vital subsistence foods. Check out this Patagonia video of Hillary and her daughter Aryana describing the cultural traditions binding them, their community, and other Native tribes to their local waters and land. Though there are some directorial dramatic liberties in this short film, the overall message is powerful. We could learn much about how to take care of our natural environment from listening to these types of stories and unblocking access to traditional food sources. For example, a recent study found that Indigenous oyster fisheries have existed sustainably for millennia throughout North America and Australia, further finding that "effective stewardship of oyster reefs and other marine fisheries around the world must center Indigenous histories and include Indigenous community members to co-develop more inclusive, just, and successful strategies for restoration, harvest, and management."
 
American Aquafarms Permit Terminated! 
Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) has terminated American Aquafarms' permit application for an industrial fish farm in Frenchman Bay, Maine. DMR cited two issues with the application as reasons for termination. First, the company failed to find a proper source for its eggs. Further, it failed to show that "the proposed hatchery satisfied genetic requirements mandated by state law." Despite the termination, American Aquafarms can start the application process over, but that could take 2-3 years. In the meantime, American Aquafarms recently purchased a large, abandoned lobster processing plant in Gouldsboro, a signal that it plans to secure the necessary state permit at some point. That said, folks in the  surrounding community have mounted strong opposition to having such a massive, ecologically destructive operation in their backyards. This win, even if temporary, is a sign that public opposition to such industrial development can have an impact. See the note about the Slow Fish North America AQUAA Act Webinar above or the Calls to Action below to learn how to engage in these discussions.
 
Maine Dam owner looks to improve wild salmon migration
Brookfield Renewables US, a subsidiary of a large Canadian firm, says it will temporarily shut down three dams on the lower Kennebec River during the spring migration of Atlantic salmon to aid their migration. The company will shut down the dams from May 5 through May 31. A fourth dam will remain operational as the company cites a study that salmon have a better chance of survival swimming through the turbine than spilling over the top of the dam. However, environmental groups like the Natural Resources Council of Maine claim simply stalling dam operations for a month isn't enough to protect the endangered species. This story highlights what's at stake as we deal with the downstream implications of industrialization dating back to the 18th century. Some estimate there are over 1,000 dams still in the state. While there has been some progress in removing obstructive dams blocking anadromous fish migrations like herring and salmon from swimming from the sea to spawning grounds upriver, there's a lot of work left to do.
 
Microplastics are a pervasive problem, from land to sea...to fish! Photo: NOAA
Study says blue tarp bits showing up in snails and slugs
Fraying blue tarps are a hallmark of rural life in Maine. But they break down (as many of us know) and continue that process until they become no more than 5 millimeters across, at which point these microplastics often get eaten by snails and slugs. That's one finding from a new study out of the University of Maine. How extensive is the microplastic problem? The Shaw Institute in Blue Hill, Maine says microplastics are the most abundant form of solid waste on Earth, while another study claims that 730,000 tons of microplastics go into landfills each year. Along with this, microplastics are prevalent throughout soils, found in higher concentrations in agricultural areas, and have been shown to negatively impact "basic, but crucial soil properties, with potential further impacts on soil ecosystem functioning." When it comes to the ocean, a microplastic sampling study done over 19 years found 24.4 trillion pieces of microplastics, which equates to 82,000 to 578,000 tons. However it's likely the amount is much greater due to sampling gaps. Once microplastics enter the marine environment, they also become present in fish and shellfish. It's time to really address our plastics problem.
 
Fascinating Fish of the Month
Threadfin Snailfish (Careproctus longifilis)

Size: 12 inches
Habitat: cold, dark places at around 5,500 meters from the ocean's surface
Good at: threading needles
Bad at: sunbathing


Threadfin snailfish are a unique species that were first recorded in their natural habitat last February. Little is known about these fish as their deep benthic habitat makes them hard to study, and they do not survive the trip to the surface due to pressure differences. We do know that threadfin snailfish lack scales and are shaped more like a tadpole than a fish and prefer colder waters around the globe. 
 
Sustainable Seafood Recipes
Inspired by seafood throwdowns from The Williams Agency and NAMA, this recipe uses dogfish (also known as cape shark), a species common to the area, but often exported because of the low popularity locally. Not sure where to source dogfish? Check out the Local Catch Network Seafood Finder to connect with a fish harvester in your area. Photo: Edible Cape Cod
Island-Style Fried Cape Shark (Dogfish)
Tamika R. Francis, WBUR

Ingredients

Seasoning/marinade
  • 2 small yellow/white onions, rough cut into chunks
  • 3-5 stalks scallions, white and green parts roughly chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, deseeded and largely diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic peeled and smashed
  • A large handful of cilantro leaves or culantro/recao
Fish
  • 2 pounds dogfish/cape shark filet, skinned and cleaned
  • 1/4 cup green seasoning
  • 2 cups flour
  • paprika
  • egg wash (2 whole eggs, salt and pepper)
  • neutral oil for frying
  • salt and pepper
  • limes
Directions
  1. Make a blended "green seasoning" by adding all seasoning ingredients to a blender, add 3 tablespoons of water, and process on high until you have a smooth, loose paste. This will make more than needed for the recipe and can be refrigerated for 2-3 days or frozen. 
  2. Prepare the fish by soaking in limes and cold water for one hour, then rinse and pat dry. Cut the fish into sandwich size pieces and season with salt and pepper. Add 1/2 to 1 cup of green seasoning as a marinade and let sit for at least half an hour. 
  3. In a deep bowl combine the eggs with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper and whisk until combined. In another deep bowl, combine the flour with paprika and 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. 
  4. Dip each piece of fish into the egg wash and then dredge with flour. Set aside on a rack. 
  5. Heat up the oil in a frying pan, enough to submerge each piece of fish. Fry each piece of battered fish until golden brown, 3-5 minutes or cooked to at least 145 degrees. Drain on a towel or rack. Sprinkle the fish with another pinch of salt while it's piping hot. 
  6. Serve with hot sauce, pickled cucumbers, cabbage, or other sandwich accompaniments between pieces of pita, naan, or "bake" (a fried or roasted dough popular in the Eastern Caribbean). 
     
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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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