Open thread for the weekend. Feel free to post links, ask questions, or talk about anything that interests you. Here’s some classic Stan Rogers to enjoy.
If you had to shut down all large scale commercial fisheries but one, which would you keep and why?
~Southern Fried Scientist
Wild Alaskan salmon. In addition to the fact that it is one of the most sustainable fisheries out there, it is one of the few cases where a fishery actually helps a species to survive.
One of the main threats facing salmon is damming of rivers. It’s a lot easier to put pressure on governments to mitigate this environmental damage (fish ladders, etc) if the fish are economically important to citizens.
There is some evidence that “wild” Alaskan salmon is heavily subsidized by hatchery and farm-reared fish. Blogfish has a good write-up on it (http://blogfishx.blogspot.com/2010/10/alaskas-not-wild-salmon.html).
At the same time I’ve read about just how much damage dogfish can do to smolts released from a hatchery (the poor naive little buggers aren’t as familiar with predators as their wild counterparts), so the hatchery fish may actually impart the fringe benefit of distracting predators from the wild fish.
Interesting choice. I’m surprised you went with an anadramous fish, since you then have to look at ecologic impacts of both the marine and riverine systems. I’m not entirely convinced that Alaskan salmon is really as sustainable as everyone wants to believe.
For the record, I’d go with catfish farms – low food input, and you can raise them in man-made ponds without disrupting the river system (though management of the ponds becomes an issue). Plus they grow pretty dang quick without the need for tons of growth hormones.
Not really that tasty though, never been a catfish fan.
True, they do kind of taste like fish sticks. Maybe I just haven’t been eating it from the right cooks.
My personal favorite is good ol’ North Carolina blue crabs. Amy definitely knows much more of this than I do (and I could very well be totally wrong) but it seems to be a relatively well-regulated fishery that benefits local fishermen more than most. Plus they are so delicious they’re almost habit-forming. Now if only we could get shrimp to be more sustainable…
Until recently my first choice would have been southern New England lobstah. Damn you shell rot!
Blue crabs are actually a very good choice in terms of sustaining fishing communities – when sold on the live market, they bring in loads of money per crab. Also, the pots have little bycatch, the crabs grow quickly and spawn like crazy.
However, they provide little nutritional value (a colleague of mine once commented that she thought she spent more energy picking the meat out than she gained), so if we’re only choosing one commercial fishery, it won’t serve the protein needs of the people who depend on fish protein for their diet (about 1/3 of the world’s population).
There’s also a concern, certainly in other large crab-producing areas like the Gulf of Mexico and the Chesapeake, over toxins such as mercury and PCB’s. Crabs live in the sediments in estuaries exactly where toxins settle out of the system. So unless you’re careful, your crab is like eating a something that just bathed in toxic poo. No matter what the status is of NC crabs (stay tuned), it’s not enough of a catch to support a commercial fleet.
It is a pain picking them out, and it takes quite a few to make a good-sized crab cake, but I’m addicted. I could use the exercise anyway. So my choice is pretty much based entirely on which species I personally love to eat and can eat relatively guilt-free (which is a luxury I have that a population depending on seafood for protein might not).
I find it interesting that the blue crab harvest couldn’t sustain an entire commercial fleet when I’ve heard multiple times that the blue crab fishery is the largest in North Carolina. Is it that all the blue crab fishermen are part-timers setting pots on days when they’re not fishing their primary gear or is it something more organized than that?
I could listen to Stan Rogers sing the Bluenose all day long. Actually, I played it about 40 times on Friday.
For all seafoods I’d take farmed conch. (though Bluecrab is tempting!) Small, I know, but good conch always reminds me of my times in Roatan. Conch fritters, conch salad, etc tastes of a good life on a relatively unexploited (at that time) Caribbean island.
And, yes Bluenose is a favorite here as well!
I’ve laboured over this since you first floated the question and remain hesitant to designate a species as it would be surely fished into oblivion in about six minutes flat.
With that in mind, I shall join Chuck in taking the self-interest route and choose the Arctic Char as, for myself, in its wild form it simply has to be one of the finest and tastiest sources of marine protein on the planet.
I guess in the end, if any fishery is the sole fishery for the world, it’s going to be fished to exhaustion pretty quick.
Unless we all start eating algae.
If I went the way of tastiest, it would have to be mahi. Nothing is quite as good as a nice mahi steak.
While we report on the incredible world of science, let’s figure out a way to get our kids involved. They’re spending 7.5 hours a day in front of electronics and missing out on the wonders of nature and all the science just outside their door.
Two words: Soylent Green