Thursday, June 2

Sustainable seafood?

I'm on it.

Unless you have read The Ethics of What We Eat, I would say not many people know much about the seafood industry, or at least the implications. There is little to no regulation in the seafood industry. Wild-caught fish is rare nowadays (in an independent scientific association, about 1 in 100 salmon is actually wild), and many of the signs at supermarkets are unreliable because again, there is no regulation save the "trust" of the suppliers, which gets real shady when profits and competitors are concerned.

Fish farming is one of the fastest and most environmentally degrading practices; cages of thousands of fish with hardly any room are fed a cheap diet of minimal nutrients and a combination of antibiotics that changes the bacteria and microscopic ecology of the surrounding area. The waste from the thousands of fish build up like toxic sludge, eventually creating both an uninhabitable and unsustainable environment in surrounding areas.

Favorites like shrimp are particularly ecologically damning; a very large percentage of shrimp comes from South America and Asia nowadays in third world areas, with some from the Gulf. Mangrove trees, responsible for harboring stunning ecological diversity and stabilizing surrounding lands, are often cleared for larger shrimp farms, and was directly related to a 10% decrease in total mangrove estuaries in the world in several years, though some biologists (Lewis et al) state that indirectly shrimp farming accounts for almost 35% of the world's decrease in mangrove estuaries.

However, the scallops industry is arguably the worst; scallops and other related bivalves have evolved to hold a certain ecological niche: essentially filtering of the water, cleansing the ocean of detrimental particles. The most common commercial method of catching scallops involves dredging a net that scrapes the surface of the ocean, disturbing the surrounding wildlife and damaging the ocean floor. A better alternative is to go for Diver's Scallops; these are not nearly as destructive and the scallops are usually larger in size and don't possess the grit commonly found in commercially fished scallops.

In general, the fish industry is not 100% efficient; what I mean by that is that whenever you go out to catch something, chances are, by-catch can be a significant portion of your catch. With tuna, dolphins became at big risk and often by the time the fishermen get to the dolphin it's already half dead, crushed by tons of tuna anyway (that's why the tuna industry boasts being dolphin free now). It's not like harvesting vegetables or something like corn- there's no way you're picking corn and the next you get some spinach and peanuts with it.

So there, now you know a little more. Now imagine my happiness when I found out I could support a business that practices sustainable seafood in a place like Atlanta?
(Pst, it's Goin' Coastal, if you haven't heard about it.)

Though, speaking of local, I always run at the Chattahoochee River and almost always see someone knee deep fishing for trout. I wouldn't suggest that; have you seen some parts of the river where it's covered in a thin film of iridescent substance, trash, plastic, toys, even shoes? When I ate at Ray's on the River for some moments, I didn't know if the restaurant was more appropriately named "Ray's on the Dump" or not!

For freshman biology, I performed a Winogradsky column; basically, loosely pack dirt and then add water on top, capping it off with that opaque stretchy material (I'm killing myself, what was the name of that?! Made with paraffin?). Anyway, we let it grow for weeks and took samples from just about anywhere of interest. We had the usual flora, but there was one violet purple that caught our eye; interesting little guy. We never really identified it because our correlation score was like 0.004, but that's ok, haha. Good to know the Hoochee doesn't house virulent bacteria out the whazoo.

Speaking of rivers....

Thumbs up if you get the reference! :3
(Rumors are, Miyazaki is making another film, this time of Princess Kaguya. I wonder if there will be any nature themes in it..?)

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