Editor’s picks: From Albacora Uno to Atlantic cod

By

Steven Hedlund

Published on
June 16, 2010

Here’s a look at this week’s top news stories and commentaries:

• The global crackdown on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing has U.S. authorities and a Spanish tuna fishing company at odds: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration slapped Albacora Uno with a USD 7.4 million fine for IUU fishing in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the South Pacific. But the vessel’s owner, Albacora S.A., shot back that it never caught a single tuna in the U.S. EEZ. Spain’s Secretary General of the Sea stepped in and is now gathering information from logbooks, observers’ reports and the vessel’s positioning to crosscheck information received by NOAA. Who’s right, and who’s wrong? This one could take months to play out.

• Following last month’s joint Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization report, it’s evident that governments worldwide are increasingly under pressure to do a better job communicating the health benefits of seafood consumption. That certainly seems to be the case in the United States. This week, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which is recommending changes to the country’s dietary guidelines, said Americans should be encouraged to eat more fish for better brain development in babies and heart health in adults. Required by Congress to be updated every five years, the new dietary guidelines are due to be finalized by year’s end.

• Farmed salmon’s dominance on the European seafood scene persists. According to new figures from Gira Foodservice, France’s independent restaurants and canteens collectively purchased more than 7,800 metric tons of fresh whole salmon last year, more than any other fresh whole fish species. In the United Kingdom, the number of Brits who have consumed fresh salmon increased from 5 million in 2008 to 6.1 million in 2009, according to new data from Kantar Worldpanel.

• It’s an ongoing struggle for U.S. Gulf Coast seafood suppliers, fishermen, restaurateurs and retailers due to the catastrophic oil spill, but they’re trying to their best to make ends meet by stocking up on Gulf seafood, redeploying fishing boats to areas beyond the fishing closures and increasing purchases of imported seafood to brace themselves against the uncertain fate of the region’s fisheries. Among suppliers’ struggles is the lack of available fishing vessels, as BP pays fishermen to help clean up the oil slick.

• SeafoodSource Contributing Editor Lisa Duchene contemplated cod’s future in her column “Turning point for cod?” this week. Using Mark Kurlansky’s 1997 book “Cod” as a backdrop for the species cultural, economic and historical significance to the North Atlantic, Duchene asked, “Has the uncertain status of cod stocks changed since the book’s publication, and is it enough to mark a turnaround?” Quite possibly, she found. “When you look at the biomass trajectories since 1994 for all of the stocks in the groundfish plan, they’re almost all on an upward trend,” said Tom Nies of the New England Fishery Management Council. “Whether that’s the result of good management — that’s what we’d like to believe — or the result of blind luck, because of something in the environment, it’s a pretty dramatic turnaround.” Only Georges Bank cod is struggling to rebound.

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