Why is salmon about to get more expensive? Sea lice have ravaged salmon farms in two of the world's largest exporting countries -- Norway and Scotland -- over the past year. And if that didn't spell trouble enough for the salmon farming industry, Chilean salmon farms have also been slammed by a highly toxic algae bloom.
Global supplies of Atlantic salmon fell by almost 9% last year and won't rebound anytime soon, as sea lice problems worsen.
Just months after Oceana reported rampant fraud in seafood sold globally, President Obama enacted a measure meant to curb the amount of mislabeled seafood on the market. In early December, his administration put in place rules that would require that every imported fish on a 13-species list be traceable to the boat or fish farm of origin. These species -- which include cod, tuna, and swordfish -- are fish that are especially vulnerable to fraud.
Now, a group of seafood companies is suing the Obama administration on account of the new rules, which would go into effect in January 2018.
Assigning the right words to foods and ingredients has always been a tricky affair. Should a food or beverage be defined by its chemical composition, its provenance, its texture, its taste, its color, etc.?
These questions have surfaced in high-stakes debates lately, not only in the U.S., but in Europe too. Just last week, in a story titled "German Agriculture Minister Says 'Nein' to Meatless Meatballs," NPR reported that "Christian Schmidt said terms like 'vegetarian schnitzel' are 'completely misleading and unsettle consumers.'"
We are writing one last time in 2016 to thank you for supporting us over the last year and to wish you a happy new year! In 2017, we hope to bring the plant-based shrimp we have been working tirelessly on to a restaurant and/or grocery store near you!
In the meantime, here are 10 of the ocean stories that most caught our eye in 2016. Some will make you cry. Some will make you laugh. And some will make you fired up for 2017.
What happens when your pig farm sits next to a pond where fish are farmed, you feed your pigs strong antibiotics (including colistin), and you spray down their manure straight into the fish farm ponds?
This is the norm in China and it has scientists, who are worried about antibiotics-resistant superbugs, sounding the alarm about much of the seafood the U.S. imports.
Where is that yummy smell coming from?
A. Is it the krill below?
B. The algae the krill are eating?
C. Or the plastic the zooplankton cling to, on the ocean's surface?
In an effort to bring awareness to ocean pollution, two soccer powerhouses are wearing jerseys made from plastic found in the ocean for one game, each, in November. Adidas and the ocean-protection organization Parley have teamed up to produce the jerseys for Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.
Seafood dinners were always a treat in my house. Having a delicately seasoned Shrimp Scampi or broiled salmon filet on a frigid January weeknight in Western Pennsylvania always made the summer months and trips to the beach feel not so far away. A Lenten fish sandwich from the local fish fry was a hallmark of spring.
Today, I live across the country and my job consists of figuring out how to make those special dishes I had growing up out of plants instead of fish.
This week, Outside Magazine got a lot of people's attention when it published an obituary of Australia's Great Barrier Reef. The piece was unabashedly grandiose. It was jarring. It turned an expanse of underwater habitats into your late neighbor down the street. And it was moving.
But right away, critics lashed out at the piece. The Huffington Post published a rebuttal titled "Great Barrier Reef Obituary Goes Viral, To The Horror Of Scientists". CNN matter-of-factly assured readers "The Great Barrier Reef is not actually dead."
In fact, 22 percent of the coral in the reef died in a massive bleaching this year. But while the rest of the reef is very much endangered, the majority of the Great Barrier Reef is hanging on, which is crucial because there is still time to save it.
(Illustration by Andrew Holder)
More than five decades ago, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) started measuring fish populations.
Today, scientists and fishermen alike are striving to get better at determining how many fish there are in the sea. Among the many reasons for wanting a clearer picture of the ocean's population is a broad desire to protect marine ecosystems in the decades and centuries to come.
Gastropod, bioGraphic, and The Atlantic have joined forces to explore some of the new techniques -- including AI, drones, and autonomous submarines -- being deployed to improve ocean censuses.
(Photo by Jeff Rotman)
October will be a very significant month for me for many reasons and two in particular rise to the top.
First, New Wave Foods celebrates its one year anniversary! One year may not seem like much but with stats going around like 90% of startups fail (Forbes) and 50% of all new businesses die within the first five years (Inc), making it through the first year feels like a victory. Year one of running a startup is thrilling and terrifying. I like to think it is similar to the American Frontier in the Wild West.
Scientist Andrew Merrie doesn't think academic science papers will convince most people of the problems plaguing the world's oceans. So he's done what any of us would do: digest dozens of research articles and turn them into science fiction stories. And in case you thought this couldn't get any cooler, Merrie is pairing his stories with images by Swedish conceptual artist Simon Stålenhag, who has worked on projects like No Man's Sky. (The image above is just one of his works for the series.)
Last Thursday, the Center for Biological Diversity sued the federal government to force the EPA to regulate ocean acidification under the Clean Water Act.
Ocean acidification may cause as much harm as global warming, and yet neither the Environmental Protection Agency nor any of the 50 states in the U.S. regulates ocean acidification as they would other water pollutants. Why not?
The Atlantic suggests a few possible reasons. First, we have known about the greenhouse effect longer than we have known about ocean acidification. Second, it is difficult to measure ocean acidification. And third, even if the EPA could determine that a body of water were harmed by ocean acidification, it can't control CO2 emissions in the air -- which are the cause of ocean acidification.
Still scientists have some ideas about how to start analyzing -- and combating -- acidification.
Due to a loophole in U.S. law, hundreds of undocumented workers make up the majority of a Hawaii fishing fleet, earning as little as 70 cents/hour while they catch $110 million worth of seafood annually. Because they have no legal power on American soil, these workers are effectively held captive by their American captains, on American-owned boats.
1 in 5 fish sold is mislabeled, according to Oceana, which recently tested over 25,000 samples of seafood, and relied on 200 studies in 55 countries. 58% of samples that were found to be fraudulent could potentially cause health issues. Furthermore, Oceana found that not only is human health at risk because of this large-scale fraud. Endangered species of fish were found mislabeled as a more prevalent fish. In Brazil, for example, the critically endangered largetooth sawfish was labeled as shark.
These days much of the news we read about our oceans is bleak. Every day we encounter grim stories of rising temperatures, toxic seafood, and disappearing ecosystems. But August is ending with a big boost of hope for our oceans: President Obama announced that he will quadruple the Papahānaumokuākea Hawaii Monument—creating the world’s largest protected marine area. It will be four times the size of California and twice the size of Texas!
Why is this important?
How do you describe the taste and texture of a prawn? Sort of rubbery; elastic, even. Like chicken, only better. These unappetising phrases hardly capture what makes it so good—the precise reason why prawns (called shrimp in the United States) are one of the most consumed seafoods globally. But now biotech startup New Wave Foods is on a mission to mimic the exact texture and taste of a prawn, in a product made entirely out of algae and plant ingredients.
A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science shows that warming waters are responsible for increases in a bacteria called Vibrio, the bacteria behind that advice that you shouldn't eat oysters in a month that doesn't end with "r". While it is relatively unknown in the United States, Vibrio has plagued coastal European cities. National Geographic claims that this trend is a "double danger": not only can Vibrio be fatally dangerous, but its increase is signaling that food sources are moving.
A once-bleached coral reef in the Pacific Ocean is showing new signs of life, according to a team of researchers from Massachusetts. Having suffered from massive bleaching a little over a decade ago, Coral Castles appeared to be largely revived in 2015. Scientists were worried, though, that the reef would once more succumb to bleaching in 2016, the hottest year on record. The researchers were ecstatic to find that this was not the case in Coral Castles and are currently looking into how this coral reef has come back to life.
New Wave Foods hopes to take on all of these problems in one fell swoop. The San Francisco-based startup has developed an insanely realistic faux shrimp made in a lab from algae and plants, and it tastes so much like the real thing co-founder and CEO Dominique Barnes says that people can’t tell it apart from actual shrimp. Their shrimp has proven to be a hit, and it has been served in Google’s cafeteria and several pop-ups and events in San Francisco. Now the company is working toward a mass-market release. We spoke with Barnes to learn about how one goes about developing fake shrimp and New Wave’s efforts to help save the oceans one fake shrimp at a time.