Posts Tagged 'sustainable seafood'



This World Oceans Day, Let’s Celebrate How Water Connects Us All

world oceans day

On June 8, organizations and communities from around the world will join to celebrate the Earth’s largest life-support system, the ocean. World Oceans Day, first celebrated in 2002, was established to help educate others on how much of an impact the ocean has on our lives and what we need to do to protect it!

Why we should celebrate the ocean, by the numbers: 

For 2.6 billion people, the ocean is their primary source of protein.

For 3 billion people, the ocean is their livelihood.

For all of us, the ocean absorbs more than 30 percent of carbon dioxide produced by humans, slowing climate change and allowing us a quality of life that, without the ocean, would not be possible (if we could survive at all).

A recent estimate suggests that there may be as many as 1 million species of non-bacterial life in the world’s waterways YET to be identified.

Though Earth is 70 percent water, an incredible 90 percent of this aquatic real estate has yet to be discovered.

While it’s great for the global community to unify this day in celebration of the ocean, here are five easy ways you can protect this vital resource every day:

  1. Reduce your energy use
    Carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels can lead to ocean acidification, which is harmful to ocean life. You can help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide you put into the atmosphere by riding a bike, walking or using public transportation and by turning off the lights when you leave a room.
  2. Use less plastic
    When plastic debris ends up in the ocean, animals can mistake it for food and eat it by accident, causing animals to choke or clogging their digestive systems. You can prevent this by limiting plastic use and always disposing of trash properly. Choose reusable items such as cloth grocery bags or refillable water bottles.
  3. Cut apart six-pack rings
    The plastic rings used for soda containers can pose a threat to marine life. Creatures can get caught in the rings and sometimes are unable to free themselves. You can help save these animals by cutting apart the rings before throwing them in the trash.
  4. Conserve water
    Reducing your water use can minimize wastewater runoff into the ocean, preventing chemicals and other contaminants from damaging marine habitats. You can conserve water by taking quicker showers and turning off the water when brushing your teeth.
  5. Eat sustainable seafood
    Overfishing can lead to an irreparable loss in certain seafood populations. To prevent this, avoid catching or eating certain species that have been exploited, such as bluefin tuna and Chilean seabass. Visit seafoodwatch.org for more sustainable seafood recommendations!

Thoughtful Thursdays: Endangered Species Spotlight on Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles

Endangered Species Day, celebrated on May 17th, was established to raise awareness of the issues (both human-related and ecological) facing endangered species and their habitats. 

To help further amplify this day, we’ll be highlighting some endangered species that can be found in our home state of Maryland, at the National Aquarium and around the world! Our hope is that as this week progresses, others will feel inspired to help us protect these amazing animals! 

Animal Rescue Update

Kemp’s ridley Lepidochelys kempii sea turtles are the smallest of all the sea turtle species and are listed as “critically endangered” by the IUCN. “Small” is a relative term for sea turtles, as the Kemp’s can weigh as much as 80 to 100 pounds as adults, and their shell can grow to about 2 feet long. Their carapace (top shell) is usually heart-shaped and brown to grey in color.

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A rehabilitated Kemp’s ridley turtle being released by National Aquarium staff.

Kemp’s ridley’s are highly migratory and seasonal visitors to Maryland waters. They can often be found in coastal areas, including the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic coast, from late May to October. While here, they feed on an assortment of crabs, shellfish and jellies, and will occasionally munch on seaweed. Cooler water temperatures in the fall signal the turtles to migrate south – reptiles are ectothermic, meaning their internal body temperature is dependent on the water temperature.

kemp's ridley

One of our current rehabilitation patients munching on a blue crab.

Along the northeast and mid-Atlantic in late fall and early winter, Kemp’s can become victims of cold-stunning. Cold-stunning is effectively hypothermia (low body temperature), which causes the turtles to stop eating and ultimately become severely sick. The 2012 cold-stun season was a record for the northeast. We currently have two Kemp’s ridley sea turtles in rehabilitation with our National Aquarium Animal Rescue team, and both were admitted as cold-stuns.

kemp's ridley

Since being listed as an Endangered Species in 1994, the US and Mexico have worked cooperatively to protect critical nesting habitats for the Kemp’s, resulting in an increase in successful nesting and hatching. Kemp’s still face many threats, though, many of which are human-related. The good news is that YOU can help protect Kemp’s ridley sea turtle populations!

Stay tuned for more features on endangered species this week! 

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Fresh Thoughts: Sustainable Seafood Q&A with Chef Chris Becker

About next week’s featured Fresh Thoughts chef, Chris Becker of Fleet Street Kitchen

A Baltimore native and veteran of several of the city’s most highly regarded restaurants, Chef Chris maintains deep

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relationships with local farmers, foragers, and fishermen. His contemporary American cuisine at Fleet Street Kitchen is defined in conjunction with the seasonal produce of Cunningham Farms, the restaurant owner’s farm in Cockeysville.

A graduate of the Baltimore Culinary Institute, Chef Chris spent time in the kitchens at The Brass Elephant, Linwoods, and The Wine Market in Locust Point. He was noted as one of the top “Chefs to Watch” by Baltimore Magazine and identified as one of “Ten Professionals Under 30 to Watch” by the b newspaper.

At Fleet Street Kitchen, Chef Chris combines both traditional and modern techniques, creating elegant dishes that reflect his intense devotion to his craft.

Can’t wait for next week’s dinner? We chatted with Chris about how sustainable seafood is changing the culinary scene throughout the mid-Atlantic region: 

What’s your favorite sustainable seafood ingredient to prepare?

Because I’m new to Maryland seafood, I’m really excited to start using soft-shell crab, which is one of Maryland’s local sustainable seafood products. It’s a really interesting ingredient and very versatile in the way it can be presented, so I’m sure you’ll see it on the menu at Fleet Street Kitchen soon.

How is sustainable seafood playing a role in Baltimore’s dining scene?

I think more and more chefs are becoming conscientious about sustainable seafood and this in change is influencing our guests to think about it as well. Because we’re by the Chesapeake Bay, I think it’s easier for people to make the connection between how we fish and the seafood we serve. People are definitely appreciating it more. At Fleet Street Kitchen, we make sure all of our seafood choices are based off the Seafood Watch list and only select the seafood listed as “Good” or “Good Alternative.”

What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to cooking sustainably?

All the great product that’s not sustainable makes it difficult. There’s some great tasting seafood that is overfished. We recently had to stop using monkfish, because it is now in the red on the Seafood Watch List. It’s unfortunate, but it it makes me more creative and exposes people to different types of fish that perhaps they wouldn’t necessarily try.

What is one sustainable seafood ingredient you hope to see more of in restaurants (including your own) this year?

Lionfish & Snakehead. Both are invasive species that are threatening key ecosystems. Lionfish are damaging coral reef ecosystems across the oceans and are actually a great tasting fish. It’d be great to see more of it on Baltimore menus. Snakehead are doing the same here in the Chesapeake Bay. There has been a lot of great press about using snakehead in restaurants. I’m definitely hoping to use both at Fleet Street Kitchen.

If everyone could walk away from our Fresh Thoughts dinner knowing one thing, it would be …

My hope is to pass along Fleet Street Kitchen’s passion for sustainable seafood and for people to make the connection between the way seafood is harvested and what is on their plate. It’s also important for people to know that they can ask if a fish is sustainable in a restaurant. This lets a restaurant’s chef and staff know that there’s a demand for conscientious ingredients. Most restaurants will appreciate this, even if they aren’t currently serving sustainable products.

To learn more about our sustainable seafood program and other conservation initiatives, click here

Thank Mom and the Planet Today!

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Mother’s Day is a special time to appreciate all that our moms, dads and other special role models do! Join the National Aquarium in celebrating Mother’s Day by doing something eco-fun this weekend with your family. The real gift is the time you’ll spend together creating memories!

Here are some ways you can celebrate both Mom and Mother Nature: 

Have fun outside together.
Did you know there are 75 nature sites within 25 miles of Baltimore! Click here to find one near you.

Create a birdbath together!
Spring has sprung and local birds are singing, courting and busily starting to build their nests this time of year. Consider starting a new tradition this Mother’s Day by getting outside and doing a fun craft that helps our native bird families!

Here’s a simple plan for building your own birdbath.

  1. Place a terracotta pot upside down.
  2. Place a terracotta saucer on top of the overturned pot.
  3. Fill the saucer with water (no more than a few inches deep)
  4. Place a few rocks in the water for the birds to land on.

For the best location for your bird bath, choose an area that is close to a window. That way, if a bird gets startled, they won’t be able to pick up much speed if they accidentally fly into the glass. Ideally, choose a spot that is also close to a bush or tree where they can hide if they sense a predator nearby.

Put a sustainable spin on dinner and flowers!
Treat mom to a delicious meal of sustainable seafood. It’s healthier for you and for the ocean!

Looking for an special last-minute gift? Join us for our upcoming Fresh Thoughts sustainable seafood dinners in both Baltimore and Washington, DC!  

Thank Mom with a locally grown organic bouquet of fragrant blooms and skip the whiff of pesticides. Organically grown flowers support local businesses that are helping keep chemicals out of our rivers, streams and the Chesapeake Bay.

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A Blue View: Seafood Fraud Uncovered

A Blue View is a weekly perspective on the life aquatic, hosted by National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli.

From the smallest plants and animals invisible to the human eye to entire ecosystems, every living thing depends on and is intricately linked by water.

Tune in to 88.1 WYPR every Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. as John brings to the surface important issues and fascinating discoveries making waves in the world today.

May 1, 2013: Seafood Fraud Uncovered

A Blue View podcastClick here to listen to John discuss
seafood fraud.
 

When we go to restaurants and grocery stores, most of us assume that we’re getting what we pay for. But as a recent study shows, that’s not always the case—especially when it comes to seafood.

Seafood fraud is not a new issue, but according to a recently released study from Oceana, it continues to be a pervasive problem. From 2010 to 2012, Oceana conducted a seafood fraud investigation, collecting more than 1,200 seafood samples in 21 states. Using a DNA barcoding technique, a short DNA sequence was obtained from each sample and then compared to a catalogue of sequences from more than 8,000 fish species. This DNA testing showed that 33 percent of the samples analyzed were mislabeled, though there was tremendous variation depending on the type of fish purchased.

Red snapper in particular was the most commonly mislabeled—113 out of 120 samples were a fish species other than red snapper. Twenty-eight different species were substituted for red snapper, and 17 of those weren’t even in the snapper family at all. In one instance, the red snapper was actually tilefish, which the government advises sensitive groups to avoid due to high mercury levels.

Also raising health concerns, escolar was a substitute for white tuna in 84 percent of samples. Escolar is a snake mackerel that contains a naturally occurring toxin and can have serious digestive effects on people who eat more than a few ounces. The Food and Drug Administration actually advises against the sale of this species, and some countries have banned it outright. Consumers are not protected, though, when it’s mislabeled as white tuna.

The Oceana study reports that 44 percent of retail establishments sold mislabeled fish, with sushi outlets far outstripping restaurants and grocery stores. In fact, 74 percent of sushi venues mislabeled fish, compared to 38 percent of restaurants and 18 percent of grocery stores.

There are many reasons that seafood fraud occurs. They include a lack of understanding, a desire to increase profits, and attempts to launder illegally harvested seafood. Somewhere along the supply chain, someone may substitute a lesser-valued fish. Others may short-weight the product, meaning the seafood processor misrepresents the weight of a seafood product so the customer gets less food for their money.

The consequences of this fraud are considerable. In addition to affecting human health when one species is swapped with another that may have contaminants, allergens, or toxins, seafood fraud disguises what is truly happening in the marketplace, incentivizing illegal fishing and threatening conservation efforts.

To address this critical issue, the SAFE Seafood Act was recently introduced to the House of Representatives and the Senate. This bill requires that seafood in the U.S. be traceable from its origin, standardizes seafood names, keeps illegally caught fish off the market, and increases inspections.

So what can you do to protect yourself from seafood fraud? Show curiosity about where your fish was caught and how. This will increase the dialogue around these important issues and hopefully encourage restaurants and stores to ask questions of their suppliers. Be knowledgeable about what you’re buying—and if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.


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