Curious news item

tonmo

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From Charleston.net:

Expert dives into mysteries of coral

The curious excerpt is as follows:

"...Many of its creatures were unknown to science until now: large red squid, single-celled animals the size of golf balls, orange-colored coral that stands 10 feet tall, sponges that look like grapefruit and coral resembling purple parasols."

Anyone know anything more about this Cape Cod Ocean Explorer expedition?
 
Sure sounds exciting!! I like the reference to New Zealand trawling the seamounts, damaging the environment (paraphrasing what they have said). Very interesting that a US article should refer to such damage occurring as far away as NZ!

We've aged colonies of 'bubblegum coral' (Paragorgia spp - we have 4 species in NZ waters, all having been referred to P. aborea), with the larger colonies (~ 3 metres height) having been aged at ~ 500 years (minimum age). That's 5 centuries worth of irreparable damage caused by a single trawl!

Stay away from orange roughy (as in do not eat it)!!
 
Steve O'Shea said:
We've aged colonies of 'bubblegum coral' (Paragorgia spp - we have 4 species in NZ waters, all having been referred to P. aborea), with the larger colonies (~ 3 metres height) having been aged at ~ 500 years (minimum age). That's 5 centuries worth of irreparable damage caused by a single trawl!
Staggering.
 
Stay away from orange roughy (as in do not eat it)!!

Orange roughy's nasty stuff anyway!! :yuck: Very bland & has a toxin just under the skin (I forget what!) so's you can't eat it more than 3 times a week (not that you'd want to!) .

+ the fish is very long lived with low fecundity (lives > than 100years) so we probably shouldn't catch it even if it didn't damage the way cooler (+older) inverts.

J
 
What is sad to me on a personal level (besides the deep sea fish fiasco, which is also unsettling) is that given the relative merits of marine life as food sources, squid tend to pop right up there. The sustainability of such short lived creatures seems way, way more likely than deep sea fish which take decades to mature. This is of course tinted by my proximity to the squid fisheries of Loligo opalescens off the coast of California, where I live; I.E., the supposed unthreatened nature of the populations and the striking footage that one always sees of the millions of market squid spawning en masse. It seems to me, with the massive food crisis in many places around the world and the obvious damage that we as a species are doing to these populations of deep sea fishes, that pelagic squid are perhaps the best alternative for food for human beings from the sea. Now, personally I love cephalopods (obviously), and would like nothing more than for them to remain unmolested, and this strikes me as a bit of a dillemma. After reading The Empty Ocean, Richard Ellis' most recent book (as far as I know), I'm thinking even more about these matters. I had previously held the impression that aquaculture was entirely a boon - now I'm not so sure. I'd be most interested to hear what others thought about this topic - whether the harvest of pelagic squid is in fact as sustainable a resource as it seems, and what people's personal feelings on the matter are as well. I wonder if my outlook is perhaps tainted by being in a country where squid is not a preferred food? In Japan for example, where squid is massively harvested, does it still seem to be a renewable resource? We obviously need to move away from the harvesting of these long lived deepwater fish species, both for the sake of the fish populations themselves and the associated underwater environmental damage; however, short of nihilism, people must be fed and some alternative must be found.

Anyone? I'd love to hear people's thoughts.

Saul
 
I don't understand why you don't think that aquaculture is a boon...are you refering to ac in the ocean, or landlocked? A lot of people buy ac'd fish here, even though it is more expensive, because it is actually fresh and consistent in quality...
We actually have two shrimp ac's here, and a plethora of tilapia ac's...
I do agree with all of you wholeheartedly about the trawling fiasco, very sad and short-sighted...on the positive side, Mexico has begun enforcing its shrimping bans to protect the sea-life with a vengeance, and it already shows! (they actually sunk a shrimping boat last year)
Greg
 
Saul, Greg,

You both write things that make me ask more questions.

Saul, have a look at the Monterey Aquarium site's ratings of fish that is all right to eat for those concerned with the health of the ocean, and what they don't recommend. It was mentioned in another thread. Farmed tilapia, as mentioned by Greg, is a favorite for all the reasons mentioned by Jean and Greg, too - it tastes good and it seems that the aquaculture is done well, but I haven't been able to find details.

Greg, please say more about the sinking of a shrimp boat by the Mexican government. :shock:

Melissa
 
There is at least one farmed fish, IMHO, that is worth it for taste alone -- i.e., catfish. It has a mild, "un-fishy" flavor and makes a great Cajun-style entrée with the simplest preparation: Wash catfish filets, pat dry with paper towels, and moisten lightly again, then dredge in a mixture of yellow cornmeal and chili powder (add salt if desired), pop in the oven till done, and you've got the main attraction of a great ethnic meal.

(If you've got an outdoor grill you can do the more elaborate "blackened fish" thing -- I don't have the recipe, but if you do a netsearch for that phrase or for Chef Paul Prudhomme, I gar-ahn-tee you will find it online.)

Besides, farmed fish is a lot less likely to carry parasites than the free-range kind -- as I once learned the hard way when a non-English-speaking fish store guy misheard my request for "catfish" as "codfish" (can you say anisakis worms?) :yuck:

À bientôt,
Mme Danaë
 
Melissa said:
Farmed tilapia, as mentioned by Greg, is a favorite for all the reasons mentioned by Jean and Greg, too - it tastes good

i eat a fair amount of tilapia, but dont think it has any particular taste to it...
 
Greg: I think Saul is referring to some concerns that are being voiced lately about aquaculture. I'm not sure about inland aquaculture though I suppose there are some concerns there as well. Open-water aquaculture, though, is the question. Escapees may be a problem if they're not native species to the area. Leftover food, plus wastes, tend to leave a very unnatural nutrient input into the surrounding environment. The dense surroundings can lead to parasites and disease, so they're sometimes medicated--again, the medications diffuse into the environment.

I don't know how serious any of these issues are, and I'm sure they're meant to be compared to standard commercial fishing, but I think these are at least some of the questions being asked.

rusty
 
Myopsida, you know of my concerns about the effects bottom-trawling has had (and continues to have) on benthic invertebrate fauna ("bottom filth" in fisherman terms), but are you aware of any bycatch fish species (not target species) that has decreased in number since the early 80's?

Someone (high up) going by the initials DR (at my previous place of employment) once referred to some eel? from the deep (Chatham Rise) that had shown a marked decrease in bycatch numbers over the years, but other than this it seems to be a grey area.

Have we any species of edible fish that could be successfully cultured in NZ waters? I know they're trying kingfish, have done flatfish, snaper (whatever happened to schnaper?), maron (sp?, that yabby thing that was disallowed years ago), and of course are doing Hippocampus, Haliotis and Perna, but I'm not aware of any present or planned large-scale fish aquaculture venture.
Cheers
O
 
Steve
We only see a very selected portion of the fish by-catch and it is difficult to get an overall impression of total catch composition changes over time. There has been no standard policy of keeping voucher specimens of all species to verify identifications and hence follow trends in catch composition. This would need a more detailed analysis of the trawl data (bearing in mind that the identification skills of many of your former colleagues results in a complete mess as I have seen the same species recorded by many different names including wrong genera, even families...). My impression however, is that during the early O-roughy fishery the numbers of some by-catch species actually increased - especially scavenger species such as basketwork eels and black sharks, possibly attracted to the trawl grounds as a result of the offal discard from the factory trawlers (flesh recovery from orange roughy is around 17% max), but subsequently numbers of eels & sharks have decreased. This may be an artifact of specimens not being retained as vouchers rather than a real decline? One thing that has always puzzled me is that the very early trawl surveys carried out by Japanese vessels prior to 1970-73 collected huge numbers of ghostsharks (Chimaera, Hydrolagus, Rhinochimaera etc) for studies at VUW. Since the NZ based vessels & joint charters have been fishing in the late 70s-80s very few ghostsharks seem to have been caught, (or kept?).
Of course this only relates to fish - it was a common practice by trawlers to "sweep" new fishing grounds before targetting the roughy to clear all those big corals which ruined the nets.
Check out some of the books written in the 1800s about settling in NZ - they all give anecdotal accounts of the fisheries (e.g. major ling & groper fishing inside Wellinton harbour - and the mullet fishery in the Kaipara which used to export hundreds of tonnes of canned fish to the Australian goldfields) to give you some idea of the decimation of our coastal fishery.
As far as suitable species for fish farming goes, I think its silly even to try when a few marine reserves around the coast would more than compensate for the pillaging going on - the evidence from TW's work at leigh shows a 14-fold increase in snapper (schappa)
 
OMG! Ling fishing in DDT-laden Wellington Harbour?! :x

You know that Bernie Napp left the Dom Post and now works for DoC. Not sure in what capacity - spin doctor maybe - but he'd be interested in following up on some of what you say (his heart is in the right place). Can you refer me to specific books/accounts (I'm not familiar with stories like this) so that I may brush up on this? I can see a sensational computer/graphic transportation back in time to 18th century Wellington Harbour, old vessels fishing for ling ....

We're currently doing a NZ 'Sunday TV' (nee 60 minutes) special on aspects of our squid work, but they're looking at the impact(s) of deep-sea fisheries in the not-too-distant future. I'm now in a rather unique position and don't need to concern myself with repercussions of what is said (given no funding is jeopardised); I'm not sure how being outspoken would affect you (I would imagine that there would be repercussions).

Thanks for that post. I had to go search out and listen to Andy Williams 'Yesterday when I was young' to pacify myself (sure, this might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it works for me).
Cheers ears
O
 
Maybe I'm getting off-topic here, but why are eels always referred to as "by-catch"? I realize there are probably at least hundreds of species of eel, but some of them make very good eating, though that may not be the case in English-speaking countries.

I know from frequenting ethnic restaurants around here that in Scandinavia and Japan, eel is a delicacy and IMHO a very tasty one. In smorgasbord it appears as smoked eel, and in sushi as una-ju (a.k.a. unaji or unagi). The Japanese version is broiled with a teriyaki-like sauce and served either in sushi rolls or as an entrée on rice.

I don't know if the species listed as "by-catch" are the edible kind, but if they are, why can't they be farmed as well? That would preserve the free-range individuals while providing a market for the aquacultured ones -- everybody wins, except perhaps for the eels that end up on the table....

Yum! :biggrin2:
 
TaningiaDanae said:
I don't know if the species listed as "by-catch" are the edible kind, but if they are, why can't they be farmed as well? That would preserve the free-range individuals while providing a market for the aquacultured ones -- everybody wins, except perhaps for the eels that end up on the table....

Today's bycatch is often tomorrow's target species. Once the target species is driven to commercial extinction, target-fishing emphasis changes to more common species that are found within fishable/trawlable depths.

Tons of edible fish is discarded daily by these commercial vessels. What really shocked me was Myopsida's statement that 15-17% (I can't recall offhand which) of orange roughy flesh is recoverable!!!

This is absolutely DISGUSTING! :x
 

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