All Posts for Overfishing

Shark Bycatch

November 15th, 2011

This hammerhead shark was caught in a gill net in Mexico’s Gulf of California.  Hammerheads do not seek out human prey but will attack if provoked. 

This rare 23 feet long whale shark was caught in a fishing net off the coast of Maylasia in 2009.  It was towed to shore but died shortly after from serious injuries. 

An estimated 50 million sharks are caught every year as bycatch - the unintended catch of a species in a fishing operation.  Sharks are easily caught in nets because of their large size. Shark populations are dwindling due to bycatch because sharks are slow growing animals and do not reproduce as fast as other fish species. 

Thanks National Geographic for the pictures!

Sea Creature of Week!

November 14th, 2011

Giant Clam

Scientific name: Tridacna Gigas

Family: Cardioidea 

Home: This super-sized clam is native to the warm waters of the Indo-Pacific region. It must choose its home wisely since once attached to a spot on the reef it remain there permanently. An ideal piece of reef real estate is a spot with plenty of sunlight to bask in!

Characteristics: The shells’ of a giant clam are made of calcium carbonate and have 4 to 5 vertical fold in them. This behemoth of a mollusk can grow to be over 4 ft in length and weigh over 500 lbs! Coloration is another distinguishing characteristic of this bottom dweller, with hues and patterns varying largely from clam to clam. When young it is difficult to distinguish this clam from others. Over time, however, our calmy sea friend shows its true size and true (beautiful) colors.

Food: The giant clam’s ability to grow as much as it does is directly connected to the billions of algae that live its mantle tissue. These algae produce nutrients (sugars and proteins) which the clam feeds on. In exchange for an unlimited supply of food,  the clam offers the algae a safe place to live and catch the rays needed for photosynthesis. In addition to the food provided to them by their algae tenants, they also use a siphon to catch passing plankton.

Fun Facts

• No two giant clams have the same colors and patterns!

• The chance of finding a suitable mate is significantly increased by the fact that this fascinating sea creature is a hermaphrodite; meaning it produces both sperm and eggs!

• The Giant Clam is the only clam that is unable to close its shells completely!

• Over-harvesting of the giant clam for food, shells and the aquarium trade posses a real threat to this marine population! #NotSoFunFact

15 ways to save our ocean!

November 1st, 2011

1. Be green/blue

Elevated water temperatures, mainly due to global warming, are disrupting the ocean’s balance and consequently its health. Reducing our carbon footprint, eating organic foods, conserving water, and consuming non-toxic products can help lessen these destructive effects. REMEMBER: REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE!

2. Don’t wash your own car

By washing your own car you are not only using about 60% more water but you are also allowing untreated chemical runoffs to flow into the streets and ultimately our oceans. Instead get a commercial car wash and use that extra time to educate yourself about the ocean!

3. Be mindful of what you flush and put down your drains

Food remnants, excessive grease and other such clogging agents can build up in city sewer lines, causing sewage overflow which ultimately ends up in the ocean. Remember the products you use to wash your body and your clothes also end up down the drain. So be sure to use natural products that are both better for you and the ocean.

4. Use non-toxic cleaning products

Avoid using toxic household cleaning products which are harmful to our well being and that of our ocean’s. Click here for instructions on how to make your own cleaning products using all natural (yet highly effective) ingredients.

5. Take action. Spread the word.

Get involved and do your part in keep the coastline and the ocean clean. Participate in or organize a beach cleanup on a regular basis. Educate yourself and other on the current state of our ocean. Furthermore, vote keeping the health of the environment and our ocean in mind.

6. Ditch the plastic

Avoid the use of plastic bags and any unnecessary plastic packaging. Plastic marine debris is severely threatening the health of all marine life. Say NO to plastics by taking our plastic bag ban pledge and encouraging others to do the same. Using a canvas tote to transport your goods from the store to the house is a great alternative!

7. Reduce consumption of seafood. Only eat sustainable.

Irresponsible and unsustainable fishing practices are one of the largest threats the marine world faces. Try to limit your seafood consumption and when you do choose to eat seafood check our sustainable seafood guide to make sure you are eating sustainably.

8. Don’t get caught up: dispose responsibly

Marine life can and do get tangled in fishing lines, nets, and plastic six pack rings. Unfortunately when this happens many of the entangled creatures end up dying. Be sure to cut and responsibly dispose of any item that marine animals can get entangled in.

9. Do your part to reduce air pollution

Air pollution plays a major role in water pollution and increases the acidity of our ocean. Riding your bike, skateboarding, walking, or taking public transit instead of taking your car are all great ways to reduce air pollution. Furthermore, avoid using products such as aerosol cans that are air pollutants.

10. Use natural pesticides and fertilizers

A large portion of soil (and whatever chemicals it’s treated with) ends up in the ocean. Keep it clean by using natural pesticides and  making your own compost for fertilizer.

11. Don’t flush them: Marine animals don’t need our drugs

A variety of medication including antidepressants, hormones, and painkillers are turning up in our oceans and negatively effecting marine life. Responsible disposal requires that you either mix the unwanted meds with inedible materials such as kitty litter or coffee grinds before throwing them in the trash.

12. Do not return fish from an aquarium to into the wild

What most people don’t know (but should)  is that not all marine life belong in the same part of the ocean. Sometimes setting a sea animal free in a part of the ocean other than its native marine environment can majorly disrupt the balance. Read more about invasive species here.

13. Don’t use antibacterial soap

A common ingredient in antibacterial soaps is triclosan. Unfortunately this substance is not fully removed by waste-water treatment and is highly toxic to marine life.

14. Dispose of hazardous materials responsibly

As part of your effort to save the ocean, you should dispose of all household items that contain hazardous substances such as batteries, lightbulbs, and electronics in a safe and responsible fashion.

15. Donate

Help organizations such as the Sea•thos foundation promote awareness and education of the human impact on the ocean. You can do so by either making a financial donation or donating your time.

What is Sustainable Seafood?

October 12th, 2011

Seafood is deemed sustainable when a fishery harvests fish species in a way that meets current and future needs without  jeopordizing the species’s ability to reproduce, and without destroying the ecosystem from which the species was caught.  Sustainable seafood tackles two problems that threaten the health of marine ecosystems: over fishing and environmentally-destructive fishing methods.  

Slow-growing fish that reproduce late in life are vulnerable to overfishing while fish species that grow quickly and breed young are more resistant. Fish species are considered to be victim to overfishing when the rate of removal from the fish population (stock)  is too high.  Overfished species are those whose numbers are declining due to factors in addition to overfishing including environmental degredation.  According to NOAA’s 2010 Status of Stocks report, U.S. fish populations victim to overfishing increased from 38 stocks in 2009 to 40 stocks in 2010 (16%), and 46 stocks were overfished in 2009 compared to 48 overfished stocks in 2010. 

Sustainable seafood can be wild-caught or farmed raised, just as long as the fishery meets sustainable standards.  Fisheries aim to maintain fish populations and avoid environmental degredation by utilizing knowledge of a fish species’ population dynamics and by using sustainable fishing techniques.  Environmentally harmful fishing techniques include dredging, gillnetting, longlining, purse seining and trawling.  These methods produce bycatch and cause significant harm to the ecoystem.  Sustainable fisheries use techniques such as hook and lining, harpooning, traps, and trolling which greatly reduce bycatch and leave ecosystems intact. 

A fishery is deemed sustainable when it is certified by organizations such as Marine Stewardship Council and Friend of the Sea.  A fishery must also meet the 10 national standards of the Magnuson-Stevens Act . You can ensure that you are buying sustainable seafood when you purchase fish managed under a U.S. fishery management plan.

Sustainable Seafood Month!

October 7th, 2011

Move over Pumpkins! October is Sustainable Seafood Month!  This is the time to go out and eat your favorite seafood while making sustainable choices!

Eating sustainable seafood is very important and has many benefits for humans, fish populations, and ocean ecosystems. Fish is the number one source of protein that 3.5 billion people around the world depend on.  It is also very nutritious as it is rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and omega 3 fatty acids which protect against heart disease, cancer, and has many other health benefits.

However, 75% of fish stocks are diminishing faster than they can be replenished, and 80% of the world’s fish are fully exploited or in decline which is jeopardizing the livelihood of billions of people. A decline in fish populations in not only detrimental to human well being but also to the well being of the entire ocean. Declining fish populations disrupts the food chain, which is a very intricate network that depends on the vitality of every creature that is a part of it. 

We don’t have to stop eating seafood to revive fish stocks, to save lives and the planet. Instead we can eat sustainable seafood- seafood that is produced by catching fish in a legal manner which allows fish stocks to replenish, and by methods that do not destroy ecosystems in the process.

Sea•thos is dedicated to providing you with sustainable seafood choices.  You can download our handy sustainable seafood guide and also keep up to date with Sea•thos as we will be posting sustainable seafood recipes all month long! Help us spread the word about the benefits of eating sustainable seafood and eat sustainably for life!

New PETA Ad… Too Far?

October 3rd, 2011

The animals rights group known as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has a new ad which is causing quite the controversey.

PETA’s new ad (shown above) portrays a shark attack and  exclaims “PAY BACK IS HELL. GO VEGAN”.  The ad suggests that human shark attacks victims get what they deserve for eating animals (particularly fish).

Aside from the gory image, PETA’s plan to place the billboard ad on the Floridian island of Anna Maria, where there has been a recent shark attack, has proven to be particularly controversial. Currently, PETA has yet to find an advertisement company willing to put up the billboard.

As an animal rights group, PETA is using the ad to encourage people to go vegan but have they gone too far? What do you think?