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Environmental/Fishing Management Issues

After Tsunami, Sea Creatures from Japan Come to USA Shores

By John Toth

  After the huge tsunami damaged Japan six years ago, it also unleashed a very different threat onto the coastline of North America, a massive invasion of marine life from across the Pacific Ocean.

  Hundreds of species from the coastal waters of Japan-mostly invertebrates like mussels, sea anemones and crabs – were carried across the Pacific on huge amounts of floating fishing debris. The first piece of wreckage began washing up on the shores of Canada and then the United states. To the surprise of scientists, this debris was covered with sea creatures that had survived crossings that in some cases had taken years!

  It is too early too early to tell how many of these invaders have gained a foothold in North American waters where they could challenge or even replace native species. While such “rafting” of animals across oceans happened in the past, scientists say that this Japanese tsunami is unprecedented due to the sheer numbers of organisms that it sent across the world’s largest ocean. While there was a concern that this debris was contaminated with nuclear waste, that fear proved to be infounded.

  Such large numbers of marine animals were able to cross the Pacific because they rode on debris like plastic and fiberglass – that proved durable enough to drift thousands of miles. These synthetics can stay afloat for years or even decades. This floating material ranged in size from coolers and motorcycle helmets to entire fishing boats, teeming with living sea animals that are native to Japan, but foreign to North America. One that first appeared was a 180-ton floating dock that washed ashore in Oregon in June 2012.

  It is remarkable that that such wide range of species could survive the journey across the Pacific and were even able to reproduce, in some cases, at least three generations before reaching our shores! Approximately 634 pieces washed up to our shores and they carried about 239 invasive species!

  With rising sea waters, this “rafting’ of invasive sea creatures on so much debris in our oceans can become more common and also very injurious to the eco-systems of many countries.

(NY Times, September 29, 2017).

 


 

Report on Ethanol Going From 10% to 15% - By John Toth

 

I wrote a letter to various legislators asking them NOT to increase ethanol from 10 to 15% and the following is the response I received from Congressman Pallone:

 


 

 Sand Mining-by John Toth

 

     Background - Super Storm Sandy damaged/destroyed so much of our beaches and now coastal communities want sand to bring their beaches back to what they were pre-Sandy. Beach replenishment has been an ongoing process when storms periodically hit our beaches, but the beaches now need a lot of it because of Sandy. The Manasquan Inlet to Barnegat Inlet Coastal Storm Reduction Project calls for beach fill construction along the oceanfront between Point Pleasant Beach, and the northern boundary of Island Beach State Park. This project calls for using sand from offshore sources for 50 years! Project cost - $513.9 million!


    Where to Get the Sand Needed for this huge project? - The Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has its present focus on the Manasquan Ridge which was formed perhaps hundreds/thousands of years ago (the last Ice Age?). This ridge is the home of numerous sand eels and other species that attract all types of fish that is targeted by both recreational and commercial fishing. In 2014, commercial fishermen netted $4.8 million worth of summer flounder on the wholesale market according to NOAA. The Manasquan Ridge is huge, about 1,700 acres or 1,500 football fields, and it has underwater sand hills that rise about 20 feet off the bottom. There are also a few shipwrecks and rock ledges on it. The Corps maintains that there are not many economically viable land sources of sand for the large quantities needed for these replenishment projects. This ridge's sand is also the right texture for the Corp's use. It has 38.6 million cubic yards of suitable beach fill material. The Corps would like to take sand from this ridge (and others) since it is a big pile of sand and makes their job easier to pick up this sand and the cost to do it less than looking for it elsewhere. Not all of the ocean floor has sand on it.


    Conflict - Fishermen have been weary with the Corps over this ridge and others nearby, which they depend upon to hold fish. They are still bitter over the Corps use of nearly half of the Harvey Cedar Lump for the Long Beach Island to Little Egg Harbor Inlet beach replenishment project. The coastal communities want this sand to restore their beaches, especially for the tourism industry. The Corps does not unilaterally act on its own to remove this sand, but acts on the direction provided by our NJ Department of Environmental Protection in concert with federal agencies like the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) since this ridge is in federal waters. The NJ DEP has given its approval for this project that may begin as early as next year. At this point, BOEM has not and it is waiting for the NJ DEP to submit a formal application to do so.


    What's Next? - In an effort to come up with some type of resolution to this conflict, a meeting was held in Trenton on July 28th with the Director of the NJ DEP, Bob Martin, and his staff. Representing commercial anglers was Jim Lovgren and Scot Mackey from the Garden State Seafood Association. Ken Warchal represented the Jersey Coast Anglers Association (JCAA). I represented the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance (NJOA) since I am its president and our club is also a member of NJOA. The above issues were discussed and the following is a quick snapshot of the major points that were raised:


     While it was not the intention of the NJ DEP to disrupt productive fishing areas, the fishing community should have been invited to review the DEP’s plans for sand removal before it began.
     Options other than taking sand from the Manasquan Ridge and others like it included - taking sand from areas where it is has been concentrating due to the normal washing away from the beaches (in the Wildwood area or other locations like it) or even from areas close to beaches that have unusual buildup from sand that washes away from the nearby shores - taking it from one of the ridges that is not that productive for fishing (lesser of two evils) - and taking sand that has been dredged from inlets and then usually dumped not far away them.
     The Corps will not stop doing beach replenishment due to the existing contracts that it has with the DEP. However, the NJ DEP staff will do a comprehensive review of alternate locations that sand can be taken from to lessen their impacts on our prime fishing areas. When this review is completed, the NJ DEP will invite us to another meeting to review their findings.
This meeting was constructive in that solutions were being offered to mitigate the problems created by beach replenishment. I will keep you updated as this sand mining issue unfolds.


 

 
Report on Making Sandy Hook Bay a Natural Marine Sanctuary

 

   On behalf of the Jersey Coast Anglers Association(JCAA) and the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance (NJOA), and our club, I attended a presentation given by Mr. Rik van Hemmen who is proposing to implement a Sandy Hook Bay Natural Marine Sanctuary. It would stretch roughly from Sandy Hook to the Earle Naval pier and to parts of the Navesink and the Schrewsbury rivers. This presentation was given at the Red Bank library at 7:00 p.m. on March 16th and it was attended by approximately 200-250 angry recreational anglers, commercial fishermen, oyster harvesters, clammers, and waterfowlers. Only about 60 could fit in the conference room and the rest waited outside the library. This turnout was due to the threat that this sanctuary would have on one of our most productive fishing grounds for both recreational and commercial anglers.

  Mr. Hemmen started his presentation by showing us a bunch of pictures of this area with boats and birds, but nothing concrete about WHY it should be a sanctuary. He did not stress any positive results we would expect to receive by having this sanctuary. He seems to love the area in question, but is oblivious to the repercussions that would result by having a sanctuary. In fact, Mr. Dan Ferrigno, a former and retired staff member of our NJ DEP with 30 years of experience, remarked that the sanctuaries we now have around our country (about 5 of them) all end up with tough restrictions on fishing, boating, jet skis and diminish the enjoyment people should receive by having them. Others in the audience voiced over and over again that this sanctuary status would lead to more fishing restrictions and that we do not need more regulations! Hemmen responded that he is not trying to impose these regulations, but he seemed oblivious to this major concern voiced by the audience.

  One person told him that he lives by the affected area and that the waters are cleaner than they have ever been and have more fish and that he did not see a need for this sanctuary, but Hemmen just blew off this remark. Building on this no need for a sanctuary, I remarked that "you obviously love the sanctuary concept to keep things the way they are for you, but YOU HAVE NOT MADE A CASE WHY WE SHOULD HAVE IT! He responded that "we will have more fish"! One person yelled out "do you have the data to prove it" and he said that he did not! His answer to me like the one he made earlier about a trash problem seems to be made up as he goes along with his presentation since he has no real answers to the important questions raised about his sanctuary proposal.

  My take on this sanctuary issue is that Hemmen does not understand the negative implications that a sanctuary has, but worse is that he is not accepting the comments that were mostly made by anglers in the room. The danger I see is that in spite of what was conveyed to him about restrictions, he will still go forward with this sanctuary and, of course, like- minded organizations may back him and this can gain traction to move it further.

  For this sanctuary to go to higher levels in our federal government it has to be first approved by our state government and that is our best hope to stop it. I will carefully track the sanctuary issue and keep you updated. We all need to stay on top of this important issue and all be united against it!

Be Careful Which Fish You Choose to Eat - Skip Tilapia!

  In a December 22nd article in the Asbury Park Press, the author (Samantha Davis) writes a "Healthy Living " column and tells how to better our health.  She tells us to eat wild salmon instead of farm raised because the fishmeal they use to combat parasites and disease in farm-raised commercial salmon has antibiotics and high levels of PCBs.

  One of the best fish to eat is sardines since they contain a lot of omega-3 and one of the few foods naturally containing Vitamin D.  But, she also indicates that tilapia, one of America's most popular fish should be avoided.

  According to the National Fisheries Institute, this freshwater fish has become the fourth most eaten fish in the U.S.! Tilapia is always farm-raised, and often imported from China that has an abysmal record for food safety. Farmed raised tilapia has a high inflammatory potential, which could lead to heart disease, asthma, and joint problems.

  Researches from Wake Forest University have found that tilapia has a higher inflammatory potential than that of a hamburger or pork bacon!  Not all fish is healthy to eat, only the right ones!
    

Genetically Engineered Salmon Declared Ready for US Plates!

   On November 19th, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a genetically engineered salmon as fit for consumption, making it the first genetically altered animal to be cleared for American supermarkets and dinner plates.

   The approval by the FDA caps a long struggle by AquaBounty Technologies, a small company that first approached the FDA about approval in the 1990's.  The FDA said the approval process took so long because it was the first of its kind.

   The approval of this salmon has been fiercely opposed by consumer and environmental groups, which have argued that the safety studies were inadequate and that wild salmon populations  might be affected if the engineered fish were to escape into the oceans and rivers. "This unfortunate, historic decision, disregards the vast majority of consumers, many independent scientists, numerous members of Congress and salmon growers around the world, who have voiced strong opposition" said Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food and Water Watch.  Within hours of the FDA's decision, a consumer advocacy group, Center for Food Safety, said it and other organizations would file a lawsuit challenging the FDA approval.

   The AquaAdvantage salmon, as it is known, is an Atlantic salmon that has been genetically modified so that it grows to market size faster than a non-genetically salmon in as little as half the time.  Despite the FDA approval, it is likely to be at least two years before any of the salmon reaches the market.  It is also not likely that much of this salmon will be on the market because this company's production facility is relatively small and it is located in Panama.   

   FDA officials said that the salmon would NOT have to be labeled as genetically engineered. However, it issued draft guidance as to wording that companies could use to VOLUNTARILY label the salmon as genetically engineered or to label other salmon as not genetically engineered.

   This genetically engineered salmon represents a debate between one group that wants nature to take its natural course in the production of food and the harvesting of animals.  The other group wants science through genetically engineering to improve food and the harvesting of animals.  For example, scientists in China have recently created goats with more muscle and hair.  This debate between these two groups is far from over! (NY Times, November 20, 2015).

 

 

Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Report

   By John Toth

 

    I attended a public hearing to comment on the proposal of  Canadian - based Liberty Natural Gas LLC to develop a deep water docking station known as Port Ambrose that would be a transfer point for ships carrying liquefied natural gas (LNG)  to unload and pump gas to points in New Jersey and New York.  While noble in its intent to provide more energy to consumers, this LNG project poses a number of problems for our environment and safety.  A large number of groups, including the JCAA and the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance (NJOA) opposed the LNG project and a public hearing was held on November 4th to take testimony from advocates and opponents of LNG. The US Coast Guard and the federal Maritime Administration presided over this hearing that was attended by a large number of people. This hearing was held at the Sheraton Hotel in Eatontown at 6:00 p.m. Many of you, if not most, are familiar with this issue since it has been covered in prior JCAA newsletters.  I, and all present,  had exactly three (3) minutes to present their comments, and I had to talk fast to cover mine!.  Those people who had lengthy statements to read could not do it in that 3 minute timeframe and they talked so fast to cover their points that it was somewhat comical to hear them!. I gave these written comments to the public hearing officers, and also presented this oral testimony:

 

Statement by John Toth, representing the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance (NJOA) and the Jersey Coast Anglers Association (JCAA)

 

   As a Trustee of  the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance (NJOA) and the Membership Secretary of the JCAA, I  want to go on record that I am representing the NJOA and the JCAA and we are strongly against the proposed LNG project.  We are against LNG for going forward for a number of reasons and they include but are not limited to the following:

 1.       The proposed LNG port will be located at the Gateway to the NY/NJ harbor, approximately 18 miles off Long Island and 28 miles off New Jersey.  This is a highly trafficked area with thousands of boats and ships moving into and out of the New York/ New Jersey marine facilities.  Under these conditions, the LNG port can pose a serious hazard to the navigation of the many ships large and small that use this important waterway system.

 

  2.       As we all know, Super Storm Sandy caused tremendous damage with waves nearly 30 feet high.  Acting on warnings to this approaching storm, ships moved to different locations to avoid this super storm or took actions to better secure their craft.  A storm like Sandy can come again and can the LNG port be adequately secured from the effect of this type of storm?  If not, it will be tossed into the ocean with devastating economic effects on our entire region, including loss of life.

 

  3.       Exclusion zones will extend two miles from each docking buoy, eliminating the ability of fishing vessels to access or anchor in the affected area.  Commercial and recreational fishermen will be excluded from these important fishing grounds.  Anglers are excluded similarly from the present Earle naval fishing port and are chased away by inadvertently entering it.  While it is needed for security of the naval vessels being repaired there, it is a nuisance for anglers and one that we do not want to experience again by the proposed LNG port.

 

  4.       A LNG facility would be a prime target for those groups of people who want to see a 9/11 type of disaster happening again.  An exploding LNG port in our populous metropolitan area would be disastrous for the resulting damage it would cause to our entire region.

 

  5.       Notwithstanding terrorists, gas is in itself presents challenges to issues of safety.  A small leakage or rupture to a line or valve can have major safety consequences.  What if the gas lines from the LNG port to their shore locations rupture from some mechanical or pressure problem and spill into the ocean.  What kind of damage can it cause and how easily can a rupture like this be repaired.  The BP problem in the Gulf showed that repairs to mechanical systems in the deep sea can be problematic. 

 6.       The construction of new pipe lines will dredge up to 20 miles of sea floor resulting in damage to some areas of prime fishing grounds and fish breeding areas.  Super Storm Sandy caused enough damage to sea floor and the resulting dredging needed for beach replenishment due to this storm.  More damage to the sea floor is not what we want to see.

 7.
     
Instead of reducing the price of natural gas for US citizens, LNG may in fact increase the cost due to the selling of it to foreign markets.

Because of the above reasons and more that will be expressed by other groups at this hearing, the NJOA and the JCAA urges Governor Christie to veto this LNG effort.

 

(On November 12th, Governor Cuomo came out against the LNG project, effectively stopping it from going forward.  Governor Christie's veto of it is not necessary). 

 


Ocean Garbage Patches Stretch Thousands of Miles

 

There are floating islands of garbage in the world's oceans and are comprised of all kinds of trash, but mostly consisting of plastic.  One is estimated to be as big as the continental United States!  Plastic takes a long time to decompose and even when it does, the problems don't go away.  It simply breaks down into tiny pieces.

The debris collects in areas known as gyres.  An ocean gyre is a circular ocean current formed by the Earth's wind patterns and the forces created by the rotation of our planet.  The area in the center of the gyre tends to be very calm and stable.  The circular motion of the gyre draws in debris where it makes its way to the center where it becomes trapped and builds up.  The material builds up because much of it is not biodegradable.  The largest of these areas is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, but similar patches can be found in the North and South Atlantic and the Indian  Oceans.  The North Atlantic Garbage Patch is estimated to be hundreds of miles across in size with a density of 200,000 pieces of debris per square mile!  The trash is not like a floating landfill, but like a big bowl of soup flecked with pepper flakes. The pepper flakes are the tiny bits of plastic called microplastic.  They block sunlight from reaching plankton and algae below.  Plankton and algae form their own nutrients and they are very important in the marine food web chain and turtles, fish and other marine species rely on them for food.  If these animals start to die, there will be less food for predator species such as tuna, sharks and whales.

Cleaning up marine debris is not easy.  Many pieces of trash are the same size as sea animals, so the nets designed to scoop up trash would catch these creatures as well.  A workable solution to this problem has yet to be found. (Asbury Park Press, Sept. 5 page E3).

 

The Precarious Life of a Sand Crab

Anyone who has dug their toes or fingers in the wet sand at the water's edge has most likely unearthed a sand crab, a.k.a. sand flea or sand mole.  These armadillo-shaped creatures are usually no bigger than a thumb and are constant burrowers.  Their daily routine is a repetition of rolling in the waves, then frantically digging themselves back under the sand.  They can bury themselves in 1.5 seconds!  A unique fact about the sand crab is that it cannot move forward or sideway, but only backward!  They feed in the swash zone- the area where the waves wash up on the beach.  To feed, the crab burrows backward into the sand using rear claws and faces the ocean with their eyes and antennae visible.  When a wave flows over them, they uncoil a second feather-like antennae that filters out plankton as their favorite meal. 

The sand crab is one of the rare crab species that has no functional legs with which to navigate themselves along the beaches. They are carried down the beach by the wave action.  They are found around the world and are prey to birds and fish.  In some areas, commercial fishermen harvest the crabs when they are soft shells for bait.  Anglers in Florida prize these crabs to catch pompano and redfish

 

Pacific Octopus Holds Egg-Brooding Record

A pacific deep-sea octopus (Graneledone boreopaifica) has been found to have an egg brooding cycle of 53 months - the longest period that any animal is known to protect its eggs.

In April 2007, researchers observed a solitary female Graneledone in the Monterey Canyon, off the coast of California guarding a clutch of eggs.  The same scientists returned to the site 18 times over the next four and a half-years using a remotely operated vehicle to monitor the octopus and her clutch estimated at 160 eggs.  She did not feed while nesting, and her body became pale and slack. Like other octopods, the Graneldone dies after its eggs hatch. 

The scientists believe that the long brooding cycle may be a reproductive strategy.  Laying fewer eggs and guarding them so long allow the babies to grow and fully develop while still in their eggs, giving them the best chance of survival!  Nature at its best! (NY Times 8/19/14).

3.9 million Eyed Oyster Larvae
ReClam The Bay received 3.9 million Eyed Oyster Larvae to be placed in the waters on the Barnegat bay on Tuesday. ReClam the Bay is a volunteer-led nonprofit organization dedicated to providing hands-on

education for allages regarding the environmental benefits of shellfish filtering, feeding and the resulting cleaning of the waters of Barnegat Bay. The goal of this group is to involve the general public in shellfish-oriented stewardship activities so that residents can better understand that water quality and habitat protection are everyone's responsibility, and that healthy shellfish populations help restore and maintain estuarine water quality. ReClam the Bay works closely with the Barnegat Bay Shellfish Restoration Progam, which was established by the Rutgers Cooperative Extension

Oysters — A historical perspective
Eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) and hard clams (Mercenaria mercenaria) have been important natural resources in Barnegat Bay since pre-colonial times when Native Americans gathered shellfish for nourishment. Their importance continued when Baymen began harvesting shellfish for sale and associated industries developed. At the peak of the oyster industry, from 1870 to 1930, the Barnegat Bay-Cape May area produced 20 percent of all market oysters harvested in New Jersey. By 1930 this figure declined to less than 10 percent. Oyster harvest declined for various reasons including overharvest, disease and changes to the bay’s

 

 

New York Was a Once City of Oysters

 


It is hard to believe that New York City was once surrounded by numerous and high quality oysters! Its
surrounding tributaries, estuaries, and bays once produced enough native shellfish that a typical city dweller ate
about 600 oysters a year! Cheap and abundant, oysters were the pizza slice of the 1800's. For less than a penny apiece. this poor man's dietary staple was sold at countless oyster saloons in lower Manhattan. The happy-hour special - called the "Canal Street Plan"- was all-you-could eat- for a six pence. Pearl Street, near Wall Street in lower Manhattan, is so named because this street was paved with native oyster shells. By 1910, 1.4 billion oysters a year were pulled out of city waters! Since oysters filter water, the increasing pollution in NYC waters began to make people sick and the polluted waters eventually took their toll on the oysters and their life cycle. Several environmental organizations(NY/NJ Baykeeper) are talking about bringing them back with seeding them at various locations, but it would take a lot of seeding and a lot of time to bring them back to the level they once had around New York!

 

 



Our chance for a cleaner, greener legacy


As New Jersey rebuilds, we can and we should rebuild in ways that keep sewage and other forms of pollution from fouling our waters and threatening our health and marine wildlife. To keep pollution from reaching the Shore, we need to upgrade our outdated and damaged stormwater infrastructure. And we
need to rebuild with green building solutions, such as pavement that can actually absorb water, rain gardens that can hold and filter water, and even green roofs that capture up to 50 percent of the rain that falls on a building. New Jerseyans have come together for the Shore before. When needles and garbage washed up on our Shore, we demanded and won new laws against coastal pollution. When Washington delayed sending relief after Sandy, we spoke out and Congress responded. Now it's time to stand up for the Shore again.


Together, we can win

 

Members and supporters like you make it possible for our staff to conduct research, make our case to the media, testify in Trenton and
build the grassroots support to make sure we rebuild in the right way, one that's best for our water, for our beaches and for generations
to come.
Read More at: http://www.environmentnewjersey.org/programs/nje/restore-our-shore

 

8.5 Million Pounds of Toxic Chemicals Dumped into New Jersey’s Waterways

Delaware River tops list of most polluted in the nation
Immediate Release
Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Trenton, NJ – Industrial facilities dumped 8.5 million pounds of toxic chemicals into New Jersey’s waterways, making New Jersey’s waterways the 12th worst in the nation, according to a new report released today by Environment New Jersey. Wasting Our Waterways: Industrial Toxic Pollution and the Unfulfilled Promise of the Clean Water Act also reports that 226 million pounds of toxic chemicals were discharged into 1,400 waterways across the country.

“New Jersey’s waterways continue to be open for business for the state’s biggest polluters. Polluters dump 8.5 million pounds of toxic chemicals into New Jersey’s lakes, rivers and streams every year,” said Megan Fitzpatrick, clean water associate with Environment New Jersey. “We must turn the tide of toxic pollution by restoring Clean Water Act protections to our waterways.”

The Environment New Jersey report documents and analyzes the dangerous levels of pollutants discharged to America’s waters by compiling toxic chemical releases reported to the U.S. EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory for 2010, the most recent data available.

Read more at www.environent NJ.org

 

Fish You Should Never, Ever Eat

Source  | Healthy Living
 

 One fish, two fish, bad-for-you-fish. Yes fish, no fish, red fish…OK fish? Our oceans have become so depleted of wild fish stocks, and so polluted with industrial contaminants, that trying to figure out the fish that are both safe and sustainable can make your head spin. "Good fish" lists can change year after year, because stocks rebound or get depleted every few years, but there are some fish that, no matter what, you can always decline. 

 The nonprofit Food and Water Watch looked at all the varieties of fish out there, how they were harvested, how certain species are farmed, and levels of toxic contaminants like mercury or PCBs in the fish, as well as how heavily local fishermen relied upon fisheries for their economic survival. These are the fish, they determined, that all of us should avoid, no matter what.

 

Tilapia

Why It's Bad: Tilapia, Contains Potentially Dangerous Fatty Acid Combination. Farm-raised tilapia, one of the most highly consumed fish in America, has very low levels of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and, perhaps worse, very high levels of omega-6 fatty acids, according to new research from Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Nearly 90% of the Tilapia imported to the US, where use of antibiotics that are banned in the U.S. Farm-raised tilapia are a diet fishmeal made from Menhaden, Menhaden are the pray fish for many species of fish important to the health of our Atlantic fish population.

 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080708092228.htm

 http://www.draxe.com/eating-tilapia-is-worse-than-eating-bacon/

Eat This Instead: US hook-and-line-caught haddock, Haddock contains 90 calories, 20 grams of protein and .55 grams of fat per 100-gram serving, which is slightly more than 3 ounces. The same amount of cooked tilapia contains 128 calories, 26 grams of protein and 2.65 grams of fat. Haddock has fewer calories and a slightly healthier fatty acid composition.

Imported Catfish
Why It's Bad:
Nearly 90% of the catfish imported to the US comes from Vietnam, where use of antibiotics that are banned in the U.S. is widespread. Furthermore, the two varieties of Vietnamese catfish sold in the US, Swai and Basa, aren't technically considered catfish by the federal government and therefore aren't held to the same inspection rules that other imported catfish are.

Eat This Instead: Stick with domestic, farm-raised catfish, advises Marianne Cufone, director of the Fish Program at Food & Water Watch. It's responsibly farmed and plentiful, making it one of the best fish you can eat. Or, try Asian carp, an invasive species with a similar taste to catfish that's out-competing wild catfish and endangering the Great Lakes ecosystem.


Caviar
Why It's Bad:
 Caviar from beluga and wild-caught sturgeon are susceptible to overfishing, according to the Food and Water Watch report, but the species are also being threatened by an increase in dam building that pollutes the water in which they live. All forms of caviar come from fish that take a long time to mature, which means that it takes a while for populations to rebound. 

Eat This Instead: If you really love caviar, opt for fish eggs from American Lake Sturgeon or American Hackleback/Shovelnose Sturgeon caviar from the Mississippi River system.

American Eel
Why It's Bad:
Also called yellow or silver eel, this fish, which frequently winds up in sushi dishes, made its way onto the list because it's highly contaminated with PCBs and mercury. The fisheries are also suffering from some pollution and overharvesting.

Eat This Instead: If you like the taste of eel, opt for Atlantic- or Pacific-caught squid instead.

 

Imported Shrimp
Why It's Bad:
Imported shrimp actually holds the designation of being the dirtiest of the Dirty Dozen, says Cufone, and it's hard to avoid, as 90% of shrimp sold in the U.S. is imported. "Imported farmed shrimp comes with a whole bevy of contaminants: antibiotics, residues from chemicals used to clean pens, filth like mouse hair, rat hair, and pieces of insects," Cufone says. "And I didn't even mention things like E. coli that have been detected in imported shrimp." Part of this has to do with the fact that less than 2% of ALL imported seafood (shrimp, crab, catfish, or others) gets inspected before its sold, which is why it's that much more important to buy domestic seafood. (Still need convincing? Find out the Top 5 Reasons You Should Never Eat Shrimp Again.)

Eat This Instead: Look for domestic shrimp. Seventy percent of domestic shrimp comes from the Gulf of Mexico, which relies heavily on shrimp for economic reasons. Pink shrimp from Oregon are another good choice; the fisheries there are certified under the stringent Marine Stewardship Council guidelines. 

 

Atlantic Flatfish 
Why It's Bad:
 This group of fish includes flounder, sole, and halibut that are caught off the Atlantic coast. They found their way onto the list because of heavy Commercial overfishing that dates back to the 1800s. According to Food and Water Watch, populations of these fish are as low as 1% of what's necessary to be considered sustainable for long-term fishing. 

Eat This Instead:
Pacific halibut seems to be doing well, but the group also recommends replacing these fish with other mild-flavored white-fleshed fish, such as domestically farmed catfish or tilapia
.

 

Atlantic Salmon (both wild-caught and farmed) 
Why It's Bad:
 It's actually illegal to capture wild Atlantic salmon because the fish stocks are so low, and they're low, in part, because of farmed salmon. Salmon farming is very polluting: Thousands of fish are crammed into pens, which leads to the growth of diseases and parasites that require antibiotics and pesticides. Often, the fish escape and compete with native fish for food, leading to declines in native populations. Adding to our salmon woes, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is moving forward with approving genetically engineered salmon to be sold, unlabeled, to unsuspecting seafood lovers. That salmon would be farmed off the coast of Panama, and it's unclear how it would be labeled. Currently, all fish labeled "Atlantic salmon" come from fish farms. 

Eat This Instead: Opt for wild Alaskan salmon now, and in the event that GE salmon is officially approved.

 

Imported King Crab
Why It's Bad:
 The biggest problem with imported crab is that most of it comes from Russia, where limits on fish harvests aren't strongly enforced. But this crab also suffers from something of an identity crisis, says Cufone: "Imported king crab is often misnamed Alaskan king crab, because most people think that's name of the crab," she says, adding that she's often seen labels at supermarkets that say "Alaskan King Crab, Imported." Alaskan king crab is a completely separate animal, she says, and it's much more responsibly harvested than the imported stuff. 

Eat This Instead: When you shop for king crab, whatever the label says, ask whether it comes from Alaska or if it's imported. Approximately 70% of the king crab sold in the U.S. is imported, so it's important to make that distinction and go domestic.

 

Orange Roughy
Why It's Bad:
 In addition to having high levels of mercury, orange roughy can take between 20 and 40 years to reach full maturity and reproduces late in life, which makes it difficult for populations to recover from overfishing. Orange roughy has such a reputation for being overharvested that some large restaurant chains, including Red Lobster, refuse to serve it. However, it still pops up in grocer freezers, sometimes mislabeled as "sustainably harvested." There are no fisheries of orange roughy that are considered well-managed or are certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, so avoid any that you see. 

Eat This Instead:
Opt for yellow snapper or domestic catfish to get the same texture as orange roughy in your recipes.

 

Atlantic Bluefin Tuna
Why It's Bad:
A recent analysis by The New York Times found that Atlantic bluefin tuna has the highest levels of mercury of any type of tuna. To top it off, bluefin tuna are severely overharvested, to the point of reaching near-extinction levels, and are considered "critically endangered" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Rather than trying to navigate the ever-changing recommendations for which tuna is best, consider giving it up altogether and switching to a healthy, flavorful alternative, such as Alaska wild-caught salmon.

Eat This Instead:
If you really can't give up tuna, opt for American or Canadian (but not imported!) albacore tuna, which is caught while it's young and doesn't contain as high levels of mercury.

 

Chilean Sea Bass
Why It's Bad:
 Most Chilean sea bass sold in the US comes from fishermen who have captured them illegally, although the US Department of State says that illegal harvesting of the fish has declined in recent years. Nevertheless, fish stocks are in such bad shape that the nonprofit Greenpeace estimates that, unless people stop eating this fish, the entire species could be commercially extinct within five years. Food and Water Watch's guide notes that these fish are high in mercury, as well. 

Eat This Instead:
These fish are very popular and considered a delicacy, but you can get the same texture and feel with US hook-and-line-caught haddock
.

 

Menhaden the most important fish:

Video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUdiOeDdz8Q

INTRODUCTION - HISTORY OF FISHERIES SURVEYS

by Jennifer Pyle, Assistant Biologist - Species Fact Sheets by Maryellen Gordon, Assistant Biologist April, 2012

The Delaware estuary, New Jersey's largest estuary system, is a semi-enclosed body of water where freshwater from the Delaware River mixes with salt water from the Delaware Bay. The estuary is a migratory route for many recreational and commercial fish and provides critical spawning and feeding grounds and nursery areas for many species.

The success of a species is contingent upon the survival of their young. The Delaware estuary provides a suitable nursery environment for young fish to grow. Monitoring populations of these juvenile fish is essential for fishery managers to estimate abundance and evaluate the success of the population. These assessments provide a means to predict population trends and future harvest potential of monitored species.

Bureau of Marine Fisheries biologists within the New Jersey DEP's Division of Fish & Wildlife conduct several surveys each year to study the status of species populations within the estuary. One of these surveys is the Delaware River Seine Survey.

The seine survey is a Fishery Independent Monitoring Project required by the Interstate Fisheries Management Plan for Striped Bass . It is currently the Bureau of Marine Fisheries' longest running fishery-independent survey. It began in 1980 when striped bass stocks were severely depleted and is primarily a juvenile striped bass abundance survey. Data collected provides an annual abundance index for this species, reported as the number of young-of-year per seine haul. Results have been corroborated by other independent surveys, such as the Delaware Division of Fish & Wildlife's striped bass spawning stock survey.

A unique aspect of this survey is its longevity - it has been conducted for 32 consecutive years. Data from such a large period of time is highly beneficial to species population studies. Not only does this survey tell us how many fish there are from year to year, but the data also contributes to the development of fisheries management plans and projections of sustainable harvest levels.

For more information about the value of this survey, see the article from the 2006 Marine Issue of the Fish and Wildlife Digest: www.njfishandwildlife.com/pdf/2006/digmar28-31.pdf (pdf, 815kb).

http://www.nj.gov/dep/fgw/artdelstudy12.htm

 

Captain Paul Eidman was guest speaker at our November 20th meeting to discuss the decline of menhaden (bunker) stocks. Captain Paul is very active in bringing this important issue to the attention of fishing clubs. If bunker is NOT around, neither will there be striped bass or blue fish around to catch! Captain Paul will give us a very interesting power point presentation to show what is happening to bunker in our waters. http://shore11.org/captpauleidman

Not so Unusual Alliance - Anglers and Environmentalists

In the past, anglers and environmentalists were united for common concerns like clean water. This union has been adversely affected by the environmentalists calling for damaging restrictions on how much anglers can catch resulting in many boat captains going out of business. An article in the July 4th edition of the NY Times indicated that a third-generation fisherman from Maine (Captain Robbins) who specializes in catching herring has been at great odds with the environmental lobbyists and really dislikes them because of their promoting catch restrictions on herring. However, he has decided to work with them to stop 30 large boats that use nets as big as a football field to scoop up hundreds of thousand pounds of herring in the Gulf of Maine. Called mid-water trawlers, they account for 98% of the 100,000 tons of herring caught in New England waters. The trawlers appeared in New England waters about 10 years ago and would often come in small areas and fish until they scooped up everything. The locals call it “Localized Depletion”. If the herring is gone, tuna, birds and other fish have nothing to eat and they too are gone. New rules call for observers on these trawlers to monitor their catches and thereby have documentation to determine if herring is being overfished. Captain Robbins is convinced the herring is overfished and he also said that “A lot of times in commercial fishing, there’s a saying: don’t speak against other fishermen. But there’s times where you can’t do that, and this is one of them”.

Impact of 'fracking' for oil and gas:

A Toxic Spew? Coming to a water supply near you! “fracturing-fluid” Fracturing chemicals are routinely used on oil and gas wells where they are pumped deep into the ground to crack rock seams and increase production. Largely unregulated, they've been employed by the energy industry for decades and, with the exception of diesel; can be made up of nearly any set of chemicals. Also, propriety trade laws don't require energy companies to disclose their ingredients

http://www.propublica.org/article/scientific-study-links-flammable-drinking-water-to-fracking/single

 

EPA Scientist Points at Fracking in Fish-Kill Mystery

A mysterious fish-kill in Dunkard Creek may have been the result of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing of shale for natural gas.Was it coal miners whose runoff wiped out aquatic life in the stream where locals have long fished and picnicked? Or was it Marcellus Shale drillers and the briny discharge from their wells that created a toxic algae bloom that left a miles-long trail of rotting fish along the West Virginia-Pennsylvania state line?U.S. EPA has ended its investigation and pointed the finger at a local coal mine, Blacksville No. 2, and entered a multimillion-dollar settlement with the owner, Consol Energy Inc. But the lead EPA biologist on the case has challenged that idea, saying that the most likely explanation for the fish kill involves the environmental effects of Marcellus Shale drilling.
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=epa-scientist-points-at-fracking-in-fish-kill-mystery 

U.S. proposes new rules for fracking on federal lands

The Obama administration unveiled long-awaited rules on Friday to bolster oversight on public lands of oil and natural gas drilling using fracking technology that has ushered in a boom in drilling but also triggered environmental protests.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/04/us-usa-fracking-regulations-idUSTRE84315N20120504


Horseshoe Crab Sculpture

Artist Chris Wojcik and his art team built a 47-foot life-like horseshoe crab sculpture that will be placed on the Axel Carlson reef. Wojcik, a scuba instructor and marine biologist from Bay Head, NJ, began building the sculpture to become part of an already existing artificial reef last October. The sculpture, made of reinforced concrete, will sit in 80 feet of water and become home to a variety of marine life. It was supposed to be deployed on the reef on July 25th, but windy weather delayed its deployment. The state Division of Fish and Wildlife is in charge of placing the sculpture on the reef and it announced that the sculpture will deployed in the early part of August, weather permitting.

Horseshoe Crab Sculpture Destroyed As reported in our August bulletin, a 47- foot horseshoe crab structure designed by artist Chris Wojcik was to be deployed on the Axel Carlson reef. About 100 people gathered on boats to watch it sink. The sculpture, towed by two barges, reached the designated area and the crews worked to slowly open the hatches of the barge to flood it while the crane workedto hold it level so it could sink properly. However, a rear strap supporting the stern of the barge snapped and the barge and sculpture plunged down to the reef, bow up. The sculpture weighing about 50 tons broke into small pieces on the ocean floor! These pieces will create an artificial reef, but not in the way it was supposed to and the artist who spent so much time and raising a lot of money to build it was very disappointed over this fiasco.

 

China to ban Shark Fin Soup at State Events - by John Toth

I was always curious about what goes into making shark fin soup since I have had it several times and I was always disappointed in its lack of taste and gooey texture. The world’s shark population has been around for millions of years and it is being depleted since the sharks are mostly killed just for their fins. So why kill sharks for a soup that is really not that good? The New York Times shed some information about shark fin soup (July 4, 2012). The soup, brewed from dried shark fins, is largely tasteless and slithery, but its serving at weddings and other events is considered a must-serve because of its status symbol. Essentially, you are making a statement that you have the financial means to serve it for your guests. Retailers in Hong Kong, the main hub for this trade, charge $260 dollars for about a pound of the fins! That equates to about $26 for a serving of this soup! With financial awards like that, no wonder the shark populations are under attack. Due to pressure form environmental groups, the Chinese government recently indicated that shark fin soup will be no longer be served at state-sponsored events. However, this decision is expected to take three years to be implemented! No hurry here! With the rapid economic growth of the Chinese middle class who can now afford this

soup, the slaughter of sharks for their fins will not end any time soon.


Big Bucks $$$ for Small Eels

The Asian market developed a huge taste for glass eels in our waters for their exotic dishes (barbecued eels and other seafood).  The huge pressure on this fishery resulted in the closure of fishing for glass eels that were once abundant during the 1990’s in New Jersey’s waters.  Because of their scarcity, juvenile eels fetch $2,500 a Pound and sometime even more!

An article in the March 16th edition of the Asbury Park Press reported that three fishermen from Maine came down to Absecon Creek (by Atlantic City) and set a net out early in the morning (2:45 a.m.) of March 13th to catch eels, but were being unknowingly watched by NJ conservation officers.  The two men operating the net took about three pounds of glass eels that equals about eight thousand eels.  On the shore, the third man from Maine was in a truck with a live holding tank that had another six pounds of eels in it or about 16,000 eels.  A catch of 9 pounds of eels would bring about $22,500 for not too much effort and time.  They would most likely have been around for more eels if they were not caught for more dollars to their wallets.  The three men involved in this illegal activity have a court appearance in Absecon municipal court and face some hefty fines.  It is amazing that such small eels could be worth $2, 500 a pound!  This is probably the most expensive thing that swims in any of our waters on earth!