Mmmm. Sushi... Mmmm. Salmon steaks...
May 27, 2003 8:55 PM   Subscribe

The SalmoFan: So long, and thanks for all the fish and animals, and plants... Amidst the catastrophic decline of large ocean fish, Salmon farmers can choose the hue of their "farmed" Salmon with the SalmoFan. [Meanwhile, these same salmon are fed on a factory fishing catch process which effectively strips most large life forms from the ocean.] With 1/4 of all mammmals and 1/2 of all plant species facing extinction, Is the planet truly at a crossroads? Are we losing the extinction battle? .."Overfishing is a global problem. People are taking marine life faster than it can reproduce. The world's catch peaked at 86 million tons in 1989, up fourfold in 50 years.....But many governments, including the United States, Mexico, the European Union, Japan and China, kept on pouring subsidies into commercial fishing fleets to keep them afloat...The Gulf of California in Mexico is not dead, but it is exhausted from overfishing, which has caused every important species of fish there to decline....Crucial fisheries have collapsed worldwide."

Contrast that with This: "[once upon a time there were] cod shoals "so thick by the shore that we hardly have been able to row a boat through them." There were six- and seven-foot-long codfish weighing as much as 200 pounds. There were great banks of oysters as large as shoes. At low tide, children were sent to the shore to collect 10-, 15-, even 20-pound lobsters with hand rakes for use as bait or pig feed. Eight- to 12-foot sturgeon choked New England rivers, and salmon packed streams from the Hudson River to Hudson's Bay. Herring, squid and capelin (a small open-water fish seven inches long) spawning runs were so gigantic they astonished observers for more than four centuries"
posted by troutfishing (30 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
awwww man. i was just thinking earlier this evening if anyone else was sad about the state of our nice little green planet and the mess we are making of it... more on farmed salmon.
posted by specialk420 at 9:59 PM on May 27, 2003

Sell the ocean.
posted by dand at 10:06 PM on May 27, 2003

Well, at least excessively verbose FPPs aren't endangered. We've got that going for us, which is nice.
posted by keswick at 10:31 PM on May 27, 2003

The fish is disappearing because the whales are eating it all, of course.

Stupid whales.
posted by spazzm at 11:05 PM on May 27, 2003

let's snicker, watch TV, send email, and pretend everything is OK. its gods plan.
posted by specialk420 at 11:34 PM on May 27, 2003

Salmon, codfish, oysters, lobsters, sturgeon, herring, squid, capelin -- all very compelling.

But troutfishing, what about the trout? :P
posted by onlyconnect at 11:37 PM on May 27, 2003

Wow we're up to five posts and we haven't had the traditional ultra-right written-on-autopilot rejoinder yet. Here, allow me:

Troutfishing, that's pretty ironic coming from you: where do you suppose the trout you took your name came from, the moon? Obviously the fisheries are just fine. I was in the store just the other day and there were plenty of fish -- at the consumer level price of fish is actually DROPPING, but according to you, the sky is still falling. But the facts mean nothing to you leftist agitators, and this kind of posting is typical of your liberal agenda; a proven tactic of eco-terrorists whose only goal is the destruction of western civilization. Obviously you hate people to have jobs almost as much as hate freedom you anti-corporate fish-loving tree-hugging commie liberal freak.

There, I hope that covers the bases and spares someone the trouble. Don't thank me, really, it's nothing.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:39 PM on May 27, 2003

Previous to 1980, Long Island sound and Boston Harbor used to have lots of flounder. A day's catch for a rod and reel fisherman was often a garbage bag full. Then suddenly, in the early 1980s, it disappeared. Three or four fish was a day's catch.

At the same time, the Grand Banks cod fishery started to go under. Fish prices jumped, and we started to see even more fishermen raking in deep sea species (monkfish??? Chilean sea bass? ) to make up the profitable slack.

As for Salmon, there is a consumer public out there that doesn't have any idea what real wild salmon tastes like. Hopefully, production practices will improve. As for Trout, the trout raised in hatcheries are freshwater fish, not likely to create a huge mess like ocean bred salmon. And as for those bred for sport fishing, the trend in the US and Europe is towards protecting and expanding wild trout populations in streams and stocking easy to catch hatchery trout in convenient ponds to take the fishing pressure off those less accessible e wild stream populations.
posted by zaelic at 2:54 AM on May 28, 2003

Here's a list of fish you can eat with a clearer conscence, and what you might prefer to avoid.
posted by biffa at 3:04 AM on May 28, 2003

George_Spiggott, can I join in?
They say fish is brain food, have you been getting enough?
The oceans are really big, and we know less about the bottom of the ocean than we do about the surface of the moon, or something. You doomsayers don't account for the brilliance of human ingenuity, we have survived this far using current fishing techniques, maybe new techniques will bring in more fish.
I imagine enourmous fishfarms could be developed in the open ocean, without impinging on shipping routes. GM could bring us huge green salmon, exotic no?
There really is no reason to get so worked up about this, if you are worried about eating cod, why not have a shrimp stir-fry instread?
Are we at a crossroads? We are always faced with options as to how we relate to our planet, they more we erode the natural order that has built up over the past few hundred thousand years, the less options we leave ourselves for the future. Where we have had the luxury of many different approaches in the past, we may well be close to a point where a decision about the future of the human race will be have a binary solution set.

On preview, thanks for that list, biffa.
posted by asok at 3:19 AM on May 28, 2003

There's a restaurant in Norwalk, CT, that celebrates its history as "Oyster capital of the world". The entirety of the industrial district of Norwalk at one time was devoted to Oyster farming, and the support industries.

Now, however, the market has nearly dried up, and the buildings are gone (but they left for another reason). There's a great maritime aquarium there now, and some bohemian store-frontage (the SoNo area).
posted by thanotopsis at 4:09 AM on May 28, 2003

keswick - So you think the possible elimination of much of the World's large ocean fish, the widespread collapse of fisheries, and so on (not to mention the threatened plant and land animal species) might deserve...

a little post?

George_Spiggot, Asok - My hat's off to you two. You know, there's something really twisted going on when shovelling out the obligatory steaming mess of American far right wing party line agitprop has turned into a liberal in-joke because it has devolved such stereotyped near-self parody from being so searingly branded into our minds by the mighty hot winds of ceaseless bloviations and superheated shriekings of the far right (corporate and government apologist) attack hordes....

I suspect that much of American right wing ideology has sunk to this pitifull state because it is now being cranked for mass distribution out by large PR firms [as if it were some industrial product, like microwave ovens or Hostess Twinkies] and served up to the public, in all it's gruesomely monolithic sameness, as "opinions" fulminated by Rush Limbaughs, by the lockstep "letter to the editor" puppetry, and by craven, bombastic op-ed writers on the take. [ /end rant ]

The fish deserve better. I've been trying to pare down my (sometimes excessive) posting style but I thought this topic was worthy of an in-your-face broadside.

onlyconnect - I do a little trout-jig in celebration that many of the (freshwater) trout are doing better - many of the wild freshwater trout are too full of mercury to eat and, as zaelic noted, many efforts are underway to rebuild tasty trout populations for sport fishermen (who tend to support conservation because they actually spend time outdoors, unlike most Amricans) . So I can happily trout-fish and, after I savour my deep and fufilling sense of accomplishment and self-sufficiency for a bit (as my trout-catch writhes in agony from my fishing hook through it's jaw) I can yank out my hook and magnanimously throw the trout back - to be caught another day unless it (stupid fish!) might actually learn from the experience to avoid future, temptingly baited fishooks). [Actually I don't fish much.]
posted by troutfishing at 5:49 AM on May 28, 2003

Nice list, biffa. I've seen them before. Problem is, why should the consumer bear with memorizing which fish it is ethical to eat? How about some authority steps in and prevents endangered species to reach the market in the first place? Once the fish are impossible to sell, they don't get fished. But I guess that would be asking for too much maturity from our institutions. Let the sucker consumer citizen bear with the consequences and responsibility.

I once talked to the owner of two factory ships. Based in Spain, they would sail to the Liberian coast and fish there for months on end. The Liberian authorities finally had enough and (probably in a completely illegal manner) sent in the navy, which took over the ships. The government nationalized them and their cargo and gave the crew a one-way ticket home (after keeping them under lock and key for a little while). The company through which he owned the ships collapsed and never again even examined the possibility of acquiring new factory ships. The whole event is completely outrageous, but I can't help but feel happy about the fate of the two ships.
posted by magullo at 5:55 AM on May 28, 2003

Props to Trout for a great FPP. Here on the Chesapeake Bay the worlds largest estuary there used to be enough oysters to completely filter the water 2 or 3 times a year it was clear, healthy and vibrant and called Americas protein factory. Today the oysters are about %95 gone and the water never filters. Attempts to bring the oysters back fail because of disease and nitrogen and the remaining oysters are dieing off. Crabs are also dieing off. Jelly Fish are in supply. Once the balance is thrown off and stocks collapse it can be difficult to restore if at all. Nitrogen is the problem it causes algae blooms which sucks up all the oxygen creating dead zones. Nitrogen comes from cars, farms, lawns, factories, human waste, etc..

I buy wild salmon from Alaska it costs about $13 a pound that includes overnight shipping. I eat it raw it tastes better than anything in a restaurant never had sushi as tender and fresh tasting as this sockeye, well worth the price.

Oh let's not forget Mercury and Fish Advisories .. Alaska wild fish has some of the lowest levels of mercury. EPA recommends a max of 1 can of tuna a week (that includes tuna salad). A large tuna sub from Subway would be at least a weeks quota of Mercury poisoning.
posted by stbalbach at 6:57 AM on May 28, 2003

I've been trying to pare down my (sometimes excessive) posting style but I thought this topic was worthy of an in-your-face broadside.

In other words: Even though I realize that excessively long rants on the front page with liberal use of itals, [small] tags, and other showoffy formatting turns off readers and is self-defeating, when I think a topic is really important I feel obliged to be as self-defeating as possible. (Yes, I used showoffy formatting in my last post -- but as little as possible to make it stand out, and most important, I kept it short. Give people a hint of something interesting and they'll look for more; dump a bucket of rhetoric over them and the sensible ones step aside.)
posted by languagehat at 7:09 AM on May 28, 2003

Do any of you think that possibly, just possibly, Cabot may have been exaggerating? 500 years ago Spanish explorers were telling tales about El Dorado and the Fountain of Youth and giving places fanciful names like the Land of Flowers (Florida) or the Rich Coast (Costa Rica) when really what they mostly found there were hostile people or disease, they named the larges, most tempestuous ocean with the highest swells the Pacific. Something tells me that Cabot may have been exaggerating a bit. Now, I'm sure that the fisheries were vastly superior to their present state, but cod so thick you can't row a boat through? The only thing thick about that is Cabot's statement!
posted by Pollomacho at 7:46 AM on May 28, 2003

I buy wild salmon from Alaska it costs about $13 a pound that includes overnight shipping.

wow, I'd no idea...any recommendations? would absolutely love to give this a try.
posted by dorian at 7:55 AM on May 28, 2003

Problem is, why should the consumer bear with memorizing which fish it is ethical to eat?

Because he is his own moral agent and responsible for his own actions?
I'm all for regulation to prevent overfishing, but in the mean time that doesn't give the individual an excuse to act without regard to the consequences of their action.
posted by biffa at 8:01 AM on May 28, 2003

Pollomacho per the fascinating article Trout linked to about Cod.. When spawning, cod gather in dense clumps of hundreds of millions of fish. Cod will indeed be thick enough you can't row a boat through. BTW this is where the McFish Sandwich comes from in case anyone wonders where all the Cod went.

dorian.. Deep Creek Custom Packing.. I recommend the flash frozen fresh fish. It's nothing fancy like many of the gourmet salmon shops you see around but your dealing with real fishermen here it's the real deal.
posted by stbalbach at 8:05 AM on May 28, 2003

Pollomacho - no. It's a nice idea, but it is not borne out by the facts.

'Those giant tuna photographed in the fish markets of East Asia with price tags that would buy a Porsche are minnows compared with their forebears. The fisherman's boast about "the one that got away" is a myth in a world with a million "industrial" fishing boats. Sadly, all the big fish have long since been caught.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization argues that nine of the world's 17 largest fisheries are being over-harvested. We should be so lucky: the latest assessment suggests all are severely depleted. Cod stocks in the north Atlantic are at half their former levels, says the FAO. The new estimate is 1/20th'

'And even these disturbing figures mask the true scale of the decline, says Ransom Myers of Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada, who carried out the survey. That's because the fish that remain are also smaller. Tuna average only half the weight they did two decades ago, for example, and marlin only a quarter. He likens the loss to denuding a game reserve of its wildlife. "There was a Serengeti in the ocean, and it's gone now," Myers says'

New Scientist vol 178 issue 2395 - 17 May 2003, page 3

troutfishing - I would like to email you, but (sensibly) you have no email in your profile. You could email me at meejahor at hotmail dot com, which would be most appreciated.

biffa and magullo - here's something:
'The MSC works to safeguard the world’s seafood supply by promoting the best environmental choice. Throughout this site you can find out who we are, what we do and information, recipes and facts all about fish. You can also find out how you can play a part in helping look after the oceans.'
VS. Registration required.
'THE "ocean friendly" label on supermarket fish is failing to protect fish stocks, claim environmentalists. They say the eco-labels certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, which identify the produce of sustainable fisheries, are simply a cover for industrial fishing methods that kill seals and seabirds, damage the seabed, and empty the seas of scarce fish stocks.'
posted by asok at 8:15 AM on May 28, 2003

But troutfishing, what about the trout?

would've been a self-link.
posted by quonsar at 8:20 AM on May 28, 2003

I don't like seafood, so I don't see what the big deal is.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:21 AM on May 28, 2003

Pollomacho - no. It's a nice idea, but it is not borne out by the facts.

Industrial fishing far postdates vast quantities of writing, yet there seems to be no corroboration supporting Cabot's claims, however, I do buy the cod spawn case that StB brought up. Incidentally it was those same fisheries that lead Basque fishermen to sail across the Atlantic and inspire future transatlantic travels, such as those by Columbus.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:27 AM on May 28, 2003

A friend told me, just the other day, that salmon is often dyed pink -- because the conditions in which it is raised sometimes cause the meat to be white. Can anyone confirm or deny this?
posted by TreeHugger at 10:11 AM on May 28, 2003

I don't like seafood, so I don't see what the big deal is. You are not leaving the dinner table until I see you eat every single bite!

Well, huge amounts of the world depend on seafood for their basic protein, fresh or in the form of nasty sun-dried or salted fish that would make most Americans to wretch... (ha! Leaving more for me and Miguel C.!) The present grave situation regarding ocean fisheries is due to both the demand for fish and the improved technology to harvest it. Sure, science has given us farm raised salmon, it just hasn't figured out how to make it taste or look like salmon. Or what to do with Salmon poo in great concentrations.

Troutfishing, I get fed up with gratuitous, ignorant, contentious replies as well. But ya gotta admit - they make great targets for come-back posts!
posted by zaelic at 10:21 AM on May 28, 2003

"I don't like seafood, so I don't see what the big deal is."

The big deal is the world is going to shit. The big deal is that this affects the ecosystem as a whole. This affects world hunger. This a affects bio diversity. Ignorance is never an excuse to ignore a major problem! Ignorance to this kind of a problem is a major reason this is allowed to happen in the first place. Oh let's be selfish why don't we, OH IT DOESN'T AFFECT me screw it. I hate that attitude. Sorry thanks for listening to me rant!
posted by tljenson at 2:05 PM on May 28, 2003

"Perhaps Crash was being facetious?"

Of course.

However, if it will send another humor-impaired person hurtling over the edge into spittle-spraying rabidity, we can pretend I was serious. We likes the rants, we does.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:28 PM on May 28, 2003

treehugger - follow the original post link - it's to the "Salmofan" which is a color fan (like a color wheel) which lets salmon farmers know which dye to order depending on how pink they want their salmon steaks to be!

Wierd, huh. But the Alaskan wild salmon that StBalbach eats actually is pink (I eat I myself, guiltily. It's delicious).

StBalbach - I eat that Alaskan wild salmon too. The first time I ate it, I had a sudden Satori of " all the salmon I've been eating for the last five years (at least) has been "farmed"! I used to consider Salmon too expensive for me to buy and, sure, I'm much more affluent now, but I never saw $3.99 (US$) Salmon fifteen years ago.

I used to live in your area and heard tell of the free crabs served at happy hour in Baltimore pubs decades ago. Now crabs are a scarce delicacy. Will the Baltimorites take to serving fake crab crancakes when all the Chesapeake crustaceans are gone?

Zaelic - George_Spiggott and Asok did such a brilliant job of rendering the far right party line on environmental issues (with even the usual crude personal attacks). Maybe it should be a requirement on Mefi that all left/liberal posters have to render a right wing opinion once in a while?

tljenson - I can vouch for mr_crash_davis along with trharlan: crash was making black humour bigtime.

Pollomacho - I think it's a question of degree - but a recent study published in science (or nature - I forgot which, and don't have time to dredge it up right now, but trust me n this) determined that there was a far vaster variety of sea life 500-1,000 years ago than there is now.

And the subsequent decline was not merely due to the overfishing of post-Columbian settlers, from a Europoean rape-and-pillage mentality - No, it seems that many of the (relatively) indigenous Indians populations (here since the end of the last ice-age anyway) overfished too. Meaning - "Tragedy of the Commons" situations are basic expressions of human nature. Sigh.........

Languagehat - Wrong side of the bed this morning? Or are you still annoyed at me from that "Persia" post? [I thought you won that one anyway.]
posted by troutfishing at 3:33 PM on May 28, 2003

Give people a hint of something interesting and they'll look for more; dump a bucket of rhetoric over them and the sensible ones step aside.

this thread seems to have proven that there are plenty here at mefi who unfortunately don't believe (nor care) that the vast resource that is our oceans is slowly being fished, scraped and polluted to barrenness, despite the evidence.
posted by specialk420 at 6:51 AM on May 29, 2003

Pollo - I neglected to mention: much more abundant sea life around the Eastern seaboard of the US, specifically.

Here is one related study (maybe the one I was thinking of) which I pulled up w/a quick Googling, concerning past abundance of sea life: "Imagine the world's oceans teeming with whales, sea turtles and fishes, with shellfish so abundant they posed a hazard to navigation. Only in a Jules Verne classic fantasy? Not so. A group of scientists from several research institutions has recently depicted that such rich ocean life existed in the not-so-distant past. Writing in the journal Science, the scientists have documented long-term effects of fishing and provided a framework for repairing coastal marine ecosystems that have collapsed from centuries of overfishing."
posted by troutfishing at 6:53 AM on May 29, 2003

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