Good by tuna.


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Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Topic Author's Original Post - Oct 25, 2013 - 06:42pm PT
I've probably consumed more than my weight in tuna, love the stuff, even fished for it off Block Island as a kid, but as an ecologist I can no longer allow myself to continue to support the industry.

It will destroy the oceans.

Everyone should start considering sustainable sushi.

I'm gonna miss that hamachi too, as well as a few others, but I'm OK with it. Fair trade.

Boulder climber
Salt Lake, UT
Oct 25, 2013 - 07:02pm PT
Yeah, it's a tough one. I love spicy tekka. But we're definitely over consuming tuna. What's the most similar good alternative?

And on your first link...I'd be very wary about consuming crayfish from China given some of the water pollution issues there.

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Oct 25, 2013 - 07:12pm PT
The ocean is broken

Oct. 18, 2013, 10 p.m.

IT was the silence that made this voyage different from all of those before it.

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Not the absence of sound, exactly.

The wind still whipped the sails and whistled in the rigging. The waves still sloshed against the fibreglass hull.

And there were plenty of other noises: muffled thuds and bumps and scrapes as the boat knocked against pieces of debris.

What was missing was the cries of the seabirds which, on all previous similar voyages, had surrounded the boat.

The birds were missing because the fish were missing.

Exactly 10 years before, when Newcastle yachtsman Ivan Macfadyen had sailed exactly the same course from Melbourne to Osaka, all he'd had to do to catch a fish from the ocean between Brisbane and Japan was throw out a baited line.

"There was not one of the 28 days on that portion of the trip when we didn't catch a good-sized fish to cook up and eat with some rice," Macfadyen recalled.

But this time, on that whole long leg of sea journey, the total catch was two.

No fish. No birds. Hardly a sign of life at all.

"In years gone by I'd gotten used to all the birds and their noises," he said.

"They'd be following the boat, sometimes resting on the mast before taking off again. You'd see flocks of them wheeling over the surface of the sea in the distance, feeding on pilchards."

But in March and April this year, only silence and desolation surrounded his boat, Funnel Web, as it sped across the surface of a haunted ocean.

North of the equator, up above New Guinea, the ocean-racers saw a big fishing boat working a reef in the distance.

"All day it was there, trawling back and forth. It was a big ship, like a mother-ship," he said.

And all night it worked too, under bright floodlights. And in the morning Macfadyen was awoken by his crewman calling out, urgently, that the ship had launched a speedboat.

"Obviously I was worried. We were unarmed and pirates are a real worry in those waters. I thought, if these guys had weapons then we were in deep trouble."

But they weren't pirates, not in the conventional sense, at least. The speedboat came alongside and the Melanesian men aboard offered gifts of fruit and jars of jam and preserves.

"And they gave us five big sugar-bags full of fish," he said.

"They were good, big fish, of all kinds. Some were fresh, but others had obviously been in the sun for a while.

"We told them there was no way we could possibly use all those fish. There were just two of us, with no real place to store or keep them. They just shrugged and told us to tip them overboard. That's what they would have done with them anyway, they said.

"They told us that his was just a small fraction of one day's by-catch. That they were only interested in tuna and to them, everything else was rubbish. It was all killed, all dumped. They just trawled that reef day and night and stripped it of every living thing."

Macfadyen felt sick to his heart. That was one fishing boat among countless more working unseen beyond the horizon, many of them doing exactly the same thing.

No wonder the sea was dead. No wonder his baited lines caught nothing. There was nothing to catch.

If that sounds depressing, it only got worse.

The next leg of the long voyage was from Osaka to San Francisco and for most of that trip the desolation was tinged with nauseous horror and a degree of fear.

"After we left Japan, it felt as if the ocean itself was dead," Macfadyen said.

"We hardly saw any living things. We saw one whale, sort of rolling helplessly on the surface with what looked like a big tumour on its head. It was pretty sickening.

"I've done a lot of miles on the ocean in my life and I'm used to seeing turtles, dolphins, sharks and big flurries of feeding birds. But this time, for 3000 nautical miles there was nothing alive to be seen."

In place of the missing life was garbage in astounding volumes.

"Part of it was the aftermath of the tsunami that hit Japan a couple of years ago. The wave came in over the land, picked up an unbelievable load of stuff and carried it out to sea. And it's still out there, everywhere you look."

Ivan's brother, Glenn, who boarded at Hawaii for the run into the United States, marvelled at the "thousands on thousands" of yellow plastic buoys. The huge tangles of synthetic rope, fishing lines and nets. Pieces of polystyrene foam by the million. And slicks of oil and petrol, everywhere.

Countless hundreds of wooden power poles are out there, snapped off by the killer wave and still trailing their wires in the middle of the sea.

"In years gone by, when you were becalmed by lack of wind, you'd just start your engine and motor on," Ivan said.

Not this time.

"In a lot of places we couldn't start our motor for fear of entangling the propeller in the mass of pieces of rope and cable. That's an unheard of situation, out in the ocean.

"If we did decide to motor we couldn't do it at night, only in the daytime with a lookout on the bow, watching for rubbish.

"On the bow, in the waters above Hawaii, you could see right down into the depths. I could see that the debris isn't just on the surface, it's all the way down. And it's all sizes, from a soft-drink bottle to pieces the size of a big car or truck.

"We saw a factory chimney sticking out of the water, with some kind of boiler thing still attached below the surface. We saw a big container-type thing, just rolling over and over on the waves.

"We were weaving around these pieces of debris. It was like sailing through a garbage tip.

"Below decks you were constantly hearing things hitting against the hull, and you were constantly afraid of hitting something really big. As it was, the hull was scratched and dented all over the place from bits and pieces we never saw."

Plastic was ubiquitous. Bottles, bags and every kind of throwaway domestic item you can imagine, from broken chairs to dustpans, toys and utensils.

And something else. The boat's vivid yellow paint job, never faded by sun or sea in years gone past, reacted with something in the water off Japan, losing its sheen in a strange and unprecedented way.

BACK in Newcastle, Ivan Macfadyen is still coming to terms with the shock and horror of the voyage.

"The ocean is broken," he said, shaking his head in stunned disbelief.

Recognising the problem is vast, and that no organisations or governments appear to have a particular interest in doing anything about it, Macfadyen is looking for ideas.

He plans to lobby government ministers, hoping they might help.

More immediately, he will approach the organisers of Australia's major ocean races, trying to enlist yachties into an international scheme that uses volunteer yachtsmen to monitor debris and marine life.

Macfadyen signed up to this scheme while he was in the US, responding to an approach by US academics who asked yachties to fill in daily survey forms and collect samples for radiation testing - a significant concern in the wake of the tsunami and consequent nuclear power station failure in Japan.

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"I asked them why don't we push for a fleet to go and clean up the mess," he said.

"But they said they'd calculated that the environmental damage from burning the fuel to do that job would be worse than just leaving the debris there."

From the Newcastle Herald: ocean is broken

Boulder, CO
Oct 25, 2013 - 07:48pm PT
Sustainable What?

I'm working with the Monterey Bay Aquarium to become a Business Partner in their Seafood Watch Program.

It's why Unagi will never again be served at my sushi bar.

There's farmed Hamachi that my supplier has deemed sustainable.

A long way from where I started
Oct 25, 2013 - 07:55pm PT
The only sushi restaurant we eat in is devoted to serving only sustainable food. Nature's eaten there with us a couple of times, and will vouch for the fact that you don't have to give up goodness to achieve sustainability.

I expect most large cities -- at least on the Pacific coast -- now have at least one sushi restaurant that serves only sustainable. Go look for them.

Social climber
Oct 25, 2013 - 07:57pm PT
Tuna? Meh. The white bread of sushi!

Smaller fish (mackerel, yum!) often have more flavor. They tend to have less mercury, to boot.

Not really a sushi fish, but a favorite:

Boulder, CO
Oct 25, 2013 - 08:00pm PT
Ron A: have a reference for me? Thanks for reading... you just surprised a lot of people ;-)

I may have missed Salmon but in a way that wasn't the point of my blog.

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and I know what the Native Americans have done with their fishing rights. They have decimated some Salmon runs.

But the simple point of my blog is to point out that it may not matter what we do to a fisheries if AGW continues on the path it is on. Obviously we know your stance on that but the simple fact is I'm convinced by the evidence.

Ghost is talking about Hajime at Mashiko. Last time I was in Seattle I sat alone at the sushi bar and we spoke at great length about sustainability. I even asked him about his tobiko to which he admitted he doesn't have a sustainable source. I found one and passed along the info. He responded that it simply wasn't affordable for him to to that route. I have on the tobiko.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 25, 2013 - 08:02pm PT
Glad to hear about hamachi but why isn't it on the list, Doug?

Too bad the unagi overrunning Florida aren't commercially available. Maybe they will be.

Crunch, I like anchovies (in small portions) but forget the mackerel.

Boulder, CO
Oct 25, 2013 - 08:05pm PT
Ron, what list?

I think the problem with the Florida Eel is it isn't the right species. With freshwater eel what they do is find the wild eel and take their eggs and then raise them on a farm. These farms are mostly in Asia and they are not viewed as a good thing for the environment (like shrimp from Thailand or India where they are killing the Mangrove groves for shrimp farms). For Anago it's tough to tell - the science isn't complete - but there isn't any evidence that suggests it's a good thing to harvest them. So MBA errs on the side of caution and lists them in the red.

Boulder, CO
Oct 25, 2013 - 08:13pm PT
Oh sorry I did see that. That chart is far too simple and probably why it's not on there.

My last shipment from Honolulu fish company I got two new items in - aquaculture rainbow trout from scotland (really probably steelhead) and Corral Cod.

Here's is MBA's list:

but even with this the Honolulu Fish Company doesn't really observe what's on their list because they feel they do a better job. So there's a disconnect for me trying to become a Business Parter. There's a number of species HFC offers that isn't on the MBA list (or where it is it's red). It depends on the source as well as the species. Bill Fin from the atlantic is in the red (and on the MBA list) but Bill Fin from the Hawaiian Fisheries is not - yet Hawaii sees it as sustainable (and I tend to believe Hawaii and Alaska in particular above all others as they do a great job of managing their fisheries)

Trad climber
Northern California
Oct 25, 2013 - 08:28pm PT
I've been bailing on tuna and most other Pacific ocean fish because of the radiation from Japan.

Boulder, CO
Oct 25, 2013 - 08:40pm PT
Over the weekend I'm going to be writing another blog on the radiation concerns in the Pacific from Fukushima. If you have any good sources please share them.

In no way will I try to state that it isn't a problem. It is. But thus far I've yet to see a lot of hard core science that backs up the perception of how bad it is. I've run across a lot of bogus science or qualitative information but the quantitative date is lacking. Further, there is a lot of disinformation and scare-technique information available.

From what I've seen/read I'm remain more concerned with mercury than I do radiation.

Here's an example. Discuss:
Credit: nature
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 25, 2013 - 08:48pm PT
Mercury poisoning is serious.

Look up Boston Corbett. He was literally mad as a hatter. He was an actual hatter's apprentice. Castrated himself with scissors and became the Jack Ruby of the 19th century, and is suspected of being Jack The Ripper as well.

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Oct 25, 2013 - 08:51pm PT
Mercury is a far more serious problem. My wife tells all her preggers patients to lay off the tuna, swordfish, and other predator species if they want their baby to come out with only two

Boulder, CO
Oct 25, 2013 - 09:06pm PT
Regarding Yellofin:

Problem here is that the source that HFC gets their Hamachi is missing from the list. Or perhaps it's on there and the MBA has incomplete info.


Trad climber
greater Boss Angeles area
Oct 25, 2013 - 09:36pm PT
Mercury is nothing you want to fool with.

Mercury poisoning is what turned RFK Jr into a spaz.

Trad climber
South Lake Tahoe, CA
Oct 25, 2013 - 09:51pm PT
Wow, you're an ecologist? Never heard of one of those who was also a gun enthusiast.

Sushi? You guys are rich. I just ate some frozen something I got at the Gross Out (Grocery Outlet) called swai.

I ate Kenai R. sockeye salmon, rockfish and halibut until I couldn't stand it anymore living in Alaska. Miss that.


Mountain climber
The Deep Woods
Oct 25, 2013 - 09:56pm PT
And i do mean mountians of salmon piled and rotting.

"rotting" fish is a traditional preparation method, here and iceland

Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Vancouver Canada
Oct 25, 2013 - 10:27pm PT
The Tuna.

A feisty, far ranging fish.

By nature, unfarmable ?

That squishy tasteless crap grown in a cage that is farmed Salmon, could be better if commerce would stop treating fish like chickens...

I like the lift animal based protein offers and was really enlightened by Ghost's Birthday thread involving sustainable sushi.


Boulder, CO
Oct 25, 2013 - 10:38pm PT
Jim - there is aquaculture salmon that is full of flavor, not squishy and not full of crap.

Ask the sushifesterers. They love it!

Fish butter.
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