Posts Tagged 'oceana'



A Blue View: From Bait to Plate

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.

October 16, 2013: From Bait to Plate

A Blue View podcast

Click here to listen to John and Oceana’s
Beth Lowell discuss the importance of
sustainable consumer practices.

It’s National Seafood Month, and there’s more to talk about than what’s for dinner. Throughout the month of October, smart seafood choices, sustainable fisheries and the health benefits of eating a diet rich in seafood are highlighted to encourage consumers to make good decisions about their seafood selections.

We talked about the journey that seafood takes from boat to plate with Beth Lowell, Campaign Director for Oceana, the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans. Beth kindly shared the following tips on how everyone can make better choices about their seafood:

How to be a Smart Seafood Consumer

  1. Ask Questions. Consumers should ask more questions, including what kind of fish it is, if it is wild or farm raised, and where, when and how it was caught.
  2. Check the Price. If the price is too good to be true, it probably is, and you are likely purchasing a completely different species than what is on the label.
  3. Purchase the Whole Fish. When possible, consumers can purchase the whole fish, which makes it more difficult to swap one species for another.
  4. Trace Seafood. Until we have a national traceability system in place, consumers can support voluntary traceability programs like Gulf Seafood Trace or other traceable seafood.

Listen to this week’s podcast to get even more sustainable consumer tips from Beth! 

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Know an Ocean Hero? Nominate Them Today!

oceana ocean heroes

Our friends at Oceana are currently asking for nominations for their annual Ocean Hero Awards – a contest celebrating individuals who go above and beyond to protection our oceans!

Nominations, for both the Junior and Adult titles, are currently open to the public and will be taken until this Friday, June 28, 2013.

After the nomination period closes this week, a team of Oceana staff will select a pool of finalists. The public will then be asked to vote for this year’s winners! Voting will take place from July 16th to July 26th. The winning Adult and Junior Ocean Heroes will be announced on July 31st. Click here to find out all the amazing things the winners will receive!

A little bit on last year’s winners…
Adult winner Captain Don Voss is owner of the Marine Cleanup Initiative, a debris collection organization that cleans up Florida’s waterways. The winner of the junior award was James Hemphill of Virginia Beach, VA. James was the president of Project Green Teens, a student-run environmental group that promotes conservation in Virginia Beach.

Partners in Ocean Conservation
At National Aquarium, we are thrilled to be partners with Oceana! Last year during our World Oceans Day celebration, Oceana’s first-ever Ocean Hero winner John Hallas joined our CEO John Racanelli for a dive at the Aquarium to promote ocean protection and conservation.

John Racanelli John Hallas diving at National Aquarium

Know someone like John Hallas or Captain Don Voss or James Hemphill? Nominate YOUR ocean hero today and tell us a bit about them in the comments section! 

Thoughtful Thursdays: Understanding Seafood Fraud

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We all know that the seafood choices we make directly affect the health of our oceans. How the fish is fished or farmed, where it is fished or farmed, if it is overfished, if other species are accidentally caught along with the desired species: all of these issues make a difference in the overall health of our marine ecosystems. Fortunately, there are tools that are available to help us make the right choices both in grocery stores and in seafood restaurants.

What happens, though, when make the effort to make the right choices, but we are sold mislabeled fish and we end up eating something completely different from what we ordered? This is one of the major aspects of Seafood Fraud, and it happens more often than we think. To raise awareness of this important conservation issue, seafood fraud was the chosen theme of last night’s Fresh Thoughts dinner at National Aquarium, Washington, DC.

According to a study done by our partners over at Oceana, close to 33 percent of the seafood purchased in the US is mislabeled.

This is not necessarily the fault of the restaurant or grocery store. Mislabeling can happen anywhere in the supply chain. A vast majority of the seafood we consume in the US is imported. There are several steps involved in getting a fish caught or farmed in a foreign county onto your dinner plate. Many folks are involved (fishermen, farmers, distributors, importers, exporters, etc) and there are limited resources available to inspect seafood imports. Further more, generally consumers have a limited ability to truly recognize what fish we’re eating. The situation is ripe for us to be taken advantage of.

This hurts us as consumers and as concerned citizens of our blue planet. Often, we are sold cheaper fish in place of premium species that we desire. This trend also hurts honest fishermen, distributors and chefs that are doing their best to make responsible business decisions while providing for their families. Just as importantly, though, is the harm this is causing to our marine ecosystems. Knowing the growing trend for choosing sustainable seafood, sustainable choices are often swapped with seafood that is “red-listed” to take advantage of the willingness to pay a little bit more for seafood that supports healthy oceans.

“The best way to combat seafood fraud is to require traceability – or the ability to track our fish from boat to plate.” said Beth Lowell, campaign director for Oceana, during last night’s event. We as consumers need to be assured of the source of our seafood. In the US, fishermen already provide much of this information upon landing. Unfortunately, there is no accountability in making sure it then is kept intact throughout the rest of the supply chain. And for the vast majority of the seafood that we consume that in imported, there are almost no checks and balances in place to protect the consumer.

So, what can we do? Here are some simple ways you can help combat this issue:

  • We have to let our elected officials know that we are aware of this issue and are concerned about how it is affecting our families, our economy and our oceans. Tell your Senator you want to help them fight seafood fraud!
  • Take steps to understand and decrease the number of steps it takes for the seafood that you consume to get from the boat to your plate. In Maryland, for example there is a True Blue program that identifies restaurants that are selling locally sourced crab meat. Many Community Supported Fisheries (CSFs) are also developing across the country. These programs make a direct link to consumers and local fishermen, allowing us to purchase healthy, local seafood while supporting our local economies.
  • Spread the word to friends and family. Awareness is the first, and arguably most critical, step to harnessing real change!

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Fresh Thoughts Recipe: Escabeche-Style Grouper

Guests who attend the June 19 Fresh Thoughts dinner at the National Aquarium, Washington, DC, will enjoy a cocktail reception and fine-dining experience from Chef Xavier Deshayes. The dinner’s courses will pair commonly swapped species side-by-side and ask the audience to identify the fish on their plate, begging the question “Do you know what you’re really eating?” The interactive dining experience will include a hearty discussion on seafood fraud with Chef Deshayes, National Aquarium and Oceana experts.

We’re excited to host this dinner in partnership with Oceana, the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans. 

Can’t wait until Wednesday’s dinner to sample the amazing dishes Chef Deshayes has prepared? Try out his recipe for Escabeche-Style Grouper with a Warm Fingerling Potato Salad:

Ingredients for the Escabeche

  •  1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  •  1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  •  1/2 teaspoon black pepper corn
  • 16 to 24 ounce of black grouper fillet (or any other local, sustainably-sourced grouper) cut on 4 ounce pc.
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  •  1 medium shallot, julienned
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon piment d’espelette
  •  1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 3 strips lemon zest

Directions

  1. Combine the flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. Pat the grouper dry and toss to coat with the seasoned flour.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch sauté pan set over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Carefully add the grouper to the pan. Cook on each side for 1 minute.
  3. Using tongs or a fish spatula, transfer the grouper to a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish. Reduce the heat to medium, add the shallot, and cook until translucent, approximately 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, thyme, coriander, piment d’espelette, white wine, vinegar, and lemon zest. Decrease the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and pour the marinade over the fish. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 1 hour before serving. Refrigerate, covered, for up to 12 hours.

Ingredients for the potato salad

  • 1 pound boiling fingerling potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons good dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 tablespoons good extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced scallions (white and green parts)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves
  • ¼ cup of whipped cream
  • 1 tablespoons of whole grain mustard

Directions

  1. Drop the fingerlings potatoes into a large pot of boiling salted water and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until they are just cooked through. Drain in a colander and place a towel over the potatoes to allow them to steam for 10 more minutes. As soon as you can handle them, cut in 1/2 (quarters if the potatoes are larger) and place in a medium bowl. Toss gently with the wine and chicken stock. Allow the liquids to soak into the warm potatoes before proceeding.
  2. Combine the vinegar, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and slowly whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsion. Add the vinaigrette to the potatoes. Add the scallions, dill, parsley, basil, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss. Keep the fingerlings potatoes warm. In a bowl mix the whipped cream and whole grain mustard, verified seasoning (reserved for presentation)
  3. At the serving time place on each plate some of the potatoes salad in a center and place the grouper on the top of it. Add a dash of mustard whipped cream on top and a serve.

Want to learn more about our Fresh Thoughts program or reserve tickets for our upcoming dinner in Washington, DC? Click here

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.

Come Learn More About Shark and Ocean Preservation – And How YOU Can Help!

On December 13, we’ll be joining Oceana and the Humane Society in Ocean City, Maryland to host a community meeting on the importance of shark preservation – and how you can help us save them!

Actress January Jones is just one of the many who have spoken out in favor of protecting sharks! Photo via Oceana

Actress January Jones is just one of the many who have spoken out in favor of protecting sharks! Photo via Oceana

Sharks have inhabited this planet for more than 400 million years, historically known as fierce apex predators, this species is now incredibly vulnerable to exploitation. Every year, tens of millions of sharks are killed for their fins. In most cases their fins are cut off at sea while the shark is still alive, and then thrown back into the ocean. Without their fins, sharks cannot swim and quickly die.

Our research team tags sharks off the coast of Ocean City every year to gather data on migration and abundance!

Our research team tags sharks off the coast of Ocean City every year to gather data on migration and abundance!

National Aquarium, along with our partners at Humane Society, Oceana, and the National Wildlife Federation, has been a leading supporter of legislation in the state of Maryland to hinder the market for shark fins by prohibiting their possession and sale. Similar to making the trade of elephant ivory illegal, such legislation would ensure that shark finning and unsustainable fishing practices are not tolerated.

Help us join an international campaign to protect these amazing animals: 

Date: Thursday, December 13, 2012
Time: 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
Address:
10003 Coastal Highway
Ocean City, MD 21842
United States

RSVP Here

“The Office” Star Angela Kinsey and Sustainable Chef Barton Seaver visit the National Aquarium

Seafood fraud is an important issue that hurts our oceans, our wallets, and our health. Last night, at National Aquarium, Washington, DC, guests learned about seafood fraud with experts from Oceana, the National Aquarium, and two very special guests, actress and activist Angela Kinsey and sustainable chef and author Barton Seaver.

Speakers, including Barton Seaver and Angela Kinsey, informed guests about the importance of stopping seafood fraud

Guests had the opportunity to participate in a special seafood tasting prepared by Chef Xavier Deshayes, executive chef at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, showcasing how easily species can be substituted.

Can you tell which fillet is mislabeled?

In a recent report, Oceana found that while 84% of the seafood eaten in the United States is imported, only 2% is currently inspected, and less than 0.001% specifically for fraud. Recent studies have also found seafood may be mislabeled as often as 25–70% of the time for fish like red snapper, wild salmon, and Atlantic cod, disguising species that are less desirable, cheaper, or more readily available.

“As a mother and a seafood consumer, I want to know what I’m putting on the dinner table for my family,” said Kinsey.

This reception followed a full day for Angela and Barton. The team traveled with Oceana through Washington, DC, with stops including a Hill briefing at the Capitol Visitor Center, where they called on Congress to pass pending legislation aimed at fighting seafood fraud and illegal fishing.

Click here to find out more about seafood fraud and Oceana’s new campaign.

National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli and sustainable chef & author Barton Seaver

The foundation of the National Aquarium’s mission to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures is public awareness and education. Choosing sustainable seafood is an easy and impactful action every consumer can take for the future health of our ocean. Like Oceana and our honored guests, we strive to provide opportunities to share knowledge about thoughtful seafood choices with programs like our Fresh Thoughts sustainable seafood dining series.


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