Monday, March 31, 2008

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The reclusive owner behind the doomed ship

Seattle Times staff reporters

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JIM PAULIN / AP

The Alaska Ranger at a port in Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Five died when The Fishing Company of Alaska ship sank in the Bering Sea last Sunday

Sixteen years ago in Anchorage, an auction for three factory fishing boats drew a gaggle of lawyers to the courthouse steps.Auctioneers had hoped to get at least $5 million per boat, but the attorneys balked at the financial risk. As they hesitated, a striking, dark-haired woman in snakeskin boots and a fur coat swept in, made her bids and walked away with two of the ships, at the fire-sale price of $4.5 million for both.
It was an uncommon public appearance for Karena Adler, but an important one. The two boats bought that day in 1991 became workhorses for her Seattle company, The Fishing Company of Alaska, known as FCA. And they helped Adler become one of the most powerful women in Alaska's male-dominated fishing world, with a fleet of seven boats and precious Alaskan fishing rights valued at many millions of dollars. full story

Monday, March 24, 2008

SIBERIAN STURGEON

My friends at the Mote Marine Research facility are producing the best sustainable sturgeon I have ever tasted. I payed them a visit in January, and here are some of the photos from that field trip.
It all starts with fertilized eggs from Germany. I was told these three boxes are worth about 10 grand.
Here Wade, my tour guide and commercial sales liaison explaining the grow out process.Here is the first step the fertilized eggs are placed into these receptacle and the presence of motion and oxygen duplicates what the natural environment would do.The source of the oxygen, a three story tall tank is used for the entire facility.These buildings are only a small fraction of the some 200 acres on site.

Once the sturgeon are over an inch or so they are transferred to the first set of tanks.And then to the larger tanks as they reach larger sizes.The filtration medium looks like wagon wheel pasta. It works by increasing the surface area so that helpful bacteria can digest waste products. This area has just been rebuilt after a devastating fire that destroyed over 20.000 lbs of fish, and caused millions in losses.
Clean water and large females swimming in the largest of the tanks, await testing of the eggs.
Beautiful, rich fatty and firm fillet.


Over a decade ago, Mote Marine Laboratory began to explore ways to culture fish in a more sustainable and environmentally friendly fashion, and have been developing aquaculture systems and production techniques which will produce superior products using ecologically responsible practices.

The Mote Sturgeon Program is registered with the State of Florida via Aquaculture Certificate Number AQ5268005. The Mote Sturgeon Program complies with all State of Florida, Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) Aquaculture Best Management Practices (BMP). Compliance is checked via periodic, scheduled and unscheduled, visits by DACS personnel. These BMP stipulate Facility Operations, Design, Animal Containment, Health Management, Animal Welfare, Shipment, Transportation, and Sales procedures.

The Mote Sturgeon Program has a research program to develop better diets for the sturgeon. This is an ongoing process and the fish diet formulations have been modified and will continue to be modified as new information becomes available.

The fish diets being used have been formulated specifically for the optimal health and well being of sturgeon. No artificial pigments, antibiotics, or hormones are added to the sturgeon feed. It is also certified melamine-free.

Mote has not and does not intend to use antibiotics to treat the fish or to be incorporated in the fish feed.

The state-of-the-art Recirculating Aquaculture Systems developed by Mote are designed to provide optimal water quality for the fish when stocked at an average density of 50 kgs of fish/cubic meter of tank space.

Mote Marine Laboratory is committed to developing sustainable aquaculture technologies that will reduce the impact on the State of Florida’s natural resources. This technology is being shared with others so that more aquatic products can be grown with less impact on our environment

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

MORE SALMON NEWS

The PFMC (Pacific Fisheries Management Council) claims that the reasons for the sudden collapse of the Sacramento fall Chinook stock is “not readily apparent.”

“Ocean conditions have been poor, and there are a lot of things that can go wrong for salmon in freshwater, “ said David Artmann, Vice-Chairman of the PFMC.

However, fishermen point to massive increases in water exports from the California Delta in recent years as the key factor in the decline, accompanied by dams, increasing water pollution, poaching, unscreened diversions, habitat loss and other problems.

“There are many factors that went into our salmon decline, but none as significant as the loss of freshwater flows to the Delta and San Francisco Bay which are essential for maintaining the biological function of this estuary and sustaining native salmon and other fish populations,” said Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, in a press conference held by a coalition of fishing, tribal and environmental groups at the Double Tree Hotel in Sacramento where the PFMC was meeting today.

“Our task now will be keeping our commercial and recreational salmon fishermen and business solvent while we focus on fixing the Bay and Delta, restoring flows and with them the fish,” Grader stated.


WILD SALMON HEADLINES

Salmon decline could lead to widespread ban - Associated Press

Chinook Salmon Vanish Without a Trace - New York Times

Fishing ban on horizon, groups say; Declining salmon population has anglers preparing for yearlong halt of season as best, perhaps only option - Contra Costa Times

Salmon may be off-limits; Salmon fishing off California and Oregon may be banned. Shrinking numbers prompt consideration of the unprecedented step, which would hurt an already beleaguered industry - Los Angeles Times

Salmon fishermen face dire choices - Sacramento Bee

Salmon season: Brief or none; Most liberal of panel's 3 options allows fraction of normal catch - Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Salmon collapse leaves fishermen high and dry - San Mateo County Times

Prognosis negative for salmon fishing - Eureka Times Standard

River salmon fishers expect at least a partial season - Redding Record Searchlight

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Encyclopedia of Life

This past month a new and ambitious website was launched with the objective of being a repository of knowledge of life on earth. The self stated description from the EOL website " Comprehensive, collaborative, ever-growing, and personalized, the Encyclopedia of Life is an ecosystem of websites that makes all key information about all life on Earth accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world." Much to my surprise a good part of the website is populated with information on fish and sea life. This I came to find out is largely due to a partnership with fishbase, another excellent source of information. Encyclopedia of Life is much more ambitious and promises to be content and media rich. Whether you are a scientist, a student, or just curious I recommend taking a look.

Monday, March 17, 2008

LESS FISH

Many indicators abound for less fish to be available in the coming year. From problems with the last years magic bullet frozen Chinese tilapia to the collapse of the California king salmon on the other end of the spectrum. Like every problem the limited output of the next years could spawn new ideas and new solutions. Here is one.

By Stephen Leahy

Dec 11 (IPS) - Catch less fish. Make more money.

Could this be the solution to the global overfishing crisis?

Australian economists writing in the current issue of Science magazine think so.

Reducing fish catches in the short term will bring fishers big profits later. And that profit potential may finally persuade an intransigent fishing industry to agree to lower catch limits, they say. FULL POST HERE

Friday, March 14, 2008

PACIFIC HALIBUT SEASON OPENS

Pacific halibut also called west coast halibut has a season that runs generally from mid March through October. This is the best time to enjoy halibut , because pricing can be 10%-25% less than its east coast cousin. The halibut is the largest of the group of fishes known as flatfish. These are flounders on steroids. Record catches for halibuts are in the hundreds of pounds. The Alaska Record Halibut weighed in at a whopping 459 lbs and was caught off the coast of Unalaska by commercial fishermen.
HALIBUT - (Hippoglossus stenolepis)

The most popular ocean going sport fish in Alaska. The Alaska Halibut has top billing for charter fishing guides and ocean going fisherman. The Alaska Halibut is one of the biggest sport fish available in Alaska.

LARGEST HALIBUT EVER CAUGHT ON SPORT TACKLE IN VALDEZ, ALASKA

Alaska Record Halibut
322.6 Pounds

This beauty was caught August 25, 2001 by Larry Davis Retired Chief
Master Sergeant US Air Force. Congratulations on this remarkable catch.

Most fish that make it to market are between 10 and 100 pounds. Actually these larger fish aren't really desired as the flesh is more likely to be chalky and mealy.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A LIST OF FISH

Alfonsino: New Zealand, related to red snapper. White flesh, 3-5# fish, oval- shaped like John Dory.

--Barramundi: habitat: from northern Australia and Queensland; one of the largest and most important commercial fishes; also popular with sportsmen; found in brackish waters, lagoons, and mangrove creeks; returns to saltwater to spawn; season runs year-round, though most active in warmer months; caught with live lures, either cast or trolled; description: white flesh, soft and delicate, mild, low oil; filets are round and thick, and have only a few large bones; preparation: frying, grilling, bbq-ing, steaming;

--Black cod: from North Pacific; 5-7 pounds, head off; “The white meat of the sablefish is fine-textured, oily, and succulent. The flavor is rich and distinctive; the fat content is high. The skin is edible;”

--Blackfish: habitat: Nova Scotia to South Carolina, Pacific Ocean, especially Narragansett Bay (RI); season from April to June, then from October; 40% yield; sold as whole fish, steaks, filets; eats clams, muscles, and crustaceans; description: mottled, off-white flesh; lean and meaty, firm-textured and mild-flavored; as meat does not flake or fall apart easily, is excellent for grilling, baking, and chowders;

--Black Sea Bass: sold in jumbos (2+) and larges (1.25-1.75); local (swims up and down the Atlantic); firm flesh

--Bluenose Bass: from New Zealand; belongs to butterfish family; season is fall and winter; found in rocky areas, caught with long line and trawler; moist, tender, and succulent flesh; pinkish-yellow meat; mild flavor, firm texture, similar to grouper; 37% yield;

--Branzini: from Mediterranean; delicate fish; very similar to Dorades (often interchangeable)

--Butterfish: habitat: Atlantic and Gulf coasts, one Pacific species; small fish, weighing only a few ounces (figure two per person); description: dark, sweet, richly flavored meat; high in fat, tender in texture; excellent pan fish.

--Catfish (see also Wolffish): habitat: farmed, mainly from the South, particularly Mississippi; wild catfish is native to North America, from southern Canada to northern Mexico; some wild is also exported to the states from South America (only about 1% of the market); farmed fish tends to be about one to one and a half pounds; description: medium-to-firm white-fleshed fish; because it is grain-fed and regulated by the FDA, flavor is consistently sweet and mild; flesh is firm and has less flake than other whitefish;

--Char (aka Arctic Char): habitat: icy-cold fresh and salt waters of North America and Europe; also farm-raised, mostly from Northern Canada and Iceland; two to eight pounds; whole or filet; description: white to orange-pink to red flesh; flavor described as a cross between trout and salmon, though closer to trout; high fat content, moderately firm, fine flake;

--Chilean turbot: crap yield; 2-4, 4-6 pounders; very very delicate, white meat

--Clams: cockles (from New Zealand), manillas=pastas, apps, etc; little necks=half shell; cherry stones, topnecks=large, so stuffed and baked; chowder=chowder

--Cod (scrod is simply a small cod; related to haddock and pollack): habitat: North Atlantic, especially New England, though scarce there now; most in U.S. now comes from Alaska; Scotland, Ireland, and Norway are experimenting with farming; taken by trawl; description: uniformly white, bright; mild-tasting, medium to delicate texture, large flakes; should be simply prepared; almost always sold as fillets;

--Coho (aka Silver): habitat: Oregon to Alaska’s Bering Coast; farmed in Chile; wild season runs from July to September; description: orange-red flesh; less oil than King or sockeyes, but still excellent eating

--Corvina: Mexican sea bass; from Baja, California; edible skin, mild flavor, medium texture (similar to sea bass) 6-8# fish head off & gutted.

--Crabmeat: jumbo lump comes from two places: either Venezuela (in which case it’ll have no label) or domestic (from Florida, Alabama, MA, Caribbean); Venezuela is more expensive; pasteurized is from Indonesia, Vietnam, and China; Maine crabmeat=Jonah crabmeat (neither jumbo nor lump); stone crabs come from Florida and Gulf of Mexico; all in one pound packages, except for all-leg, which comes in half-pound packages

--Crayfish: from California or Mississippi

--Escolar: “white tuna;” flesh similar to swordfish; also oilfish; buttery meat; very very high fat content; from mackerel family; swims all up and down Atlantic and Pacific coasts, Gulf-wide; pelagic species (swims in water column, not near shore and not near bottom; almost always a by-catch; oilfish has smooth skin, true escolar has rough skin; with head off, 75% yield; head on, 45%;

--Fluke/Flounder: summer flounder=fluke (comes in large 2-4 and jumbo 4+); winter flounder=flounder; flounder is lighter and sweeter than fluke

--Gray Sole: most delicate of sole family; sweet and delicate

--Grouper (belongs to Sea bass family): habitat: warm waters of Pacific, Atlantic, and Caribbean, from mid-Atlantic and Florida to South America, Central America, and Gulf of Mexico; sold as whole fish and as filets; whole tend to be between five and ten pounds; comes in red and black varieties; red is most commonly seen in market, though black is preferred (better yield and firmer flesh); description: mild but distinct, somewhere between bass and halibut; red is sweeter and milder than black; firm texture, so holds up well to deep frying, grilling, and cutting up for use in chowders; )

--Hawaiian marlin loin (blue marlin): comes in cryovac; need to ask how big each piece is, may be able to cut off a portion to make, say, a 5 lb piece; meaty, similar to swordfish but sweet, nice light texture; full yield! Won’t lose much at all, excellent to sell; large fish, marked size is typically 80 to 300 pounds; season runs from June to October

--Halibut (member of flounder family): habitat: Pacific coast from northern California to Bering Sea, and westward to Russia and Sea of Japan; 90% of the market comes from Gulf of Alaska; fished with long lines; largest flatfish in the world: can be 8 feet long and over 600 pounds; market sizes run from 10 to 200 pounds; scarce in first three months of winter; sold as steaks, though smaller halibut can be sold filleted or whole; description: very mild, sweet-tasting, lean fish with fine, dense meat; very firm texture; dries out quickly; thick, meaty fish holds up well to skewering (as flesh holds together well) and is best poached; not great for baking or broiling; price:

--Hamachi:(Tuna) aka Amberjack. Light gold flesh, has both dark and light meat. found on both US coasts, Japanese hatcheries of this fish is very popular for its sushi grade quality.

--Hake: soft, white flesh, similar to cod; from Long Island up towards Massachusetts

--Hiramasa (Australian Kingfish): firm and moist, sushi quality

--John Dory: habitat: Atlantic Ocean, off the coasts of Europe and Africa; mostly sold and cooked whole, as yield is low; description: firm-textured, white-fleshed; sweet, mild flavor; low fat content

King (aka Chinook): habitat: central California to Alaska’s Yukon River; largest Pacific salmon; average between 15 and 25 pounds; wild are available in spring and summer; description: pleasing red color, rich flavor, firm flesh; high oil content; price ; Coho (aka Silver): habitat: Oregon to Alaska’s Bering Coast; farmed in Chile; wild season runs from July to September; description: orange-red flesh; less oil than King or sockeyes, but still excellent eating; ; also sockeye, pink, and chum; (flavor is a function of fat content: the higher the fat content, the more flavor)

King Klip-à New Zealand, eel-like body and head, sub for Grouper & less expensive. Pink to white, flakey flesh, free of bones, sweet & moist. In the Hake family.

--Lehi: This silver-mouth snapper is similar in looks to the Opakapaka with the exception of the tuna-like mouth. The fillets are pink and the flavor is slightly stronger than their cousins’ the Onaga and the Opakapaka.

--Nantucket Scallops: season runs from October to December; scallops are small and delicate; sweet, briny flavor and delicate texture; expensive

--Cape Bay Scallops: season runs from October to ? , next to Nantucket Bay and very similar; more cost effective.

--Mackerel (common or Atlantic, Spanish, Pacific, king): habitat: caught off California coast and eastern coasts of the States, Europe, and South America; does not freeze well, so must be eaten immediately; description: firm, dark flesh, very fatty and rich, strong, sweet flavor; best cooked with something acidic, such as tomatoes;

--Mahi Mahi (aka Dorado, Dolphinfish): habitat: tropical and subtropical waters, Hawaii, Florida, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean; description: dark meat turns white when cooked; moderately fatty, strong and pleasantly sweet flavor: comparable to swordfish; preparation: excellent broiled, grilled, and pan seared; bears up under bold flavors and sauces

--Mako Shark: habitat: Northern Atlantic coasts; when bad, smells like ammonia; description: dense, meaty, pink-white flesh, firm texture, moderately strong flavor; very similar to chicken; takes well to marinades and sauces;

--Monkfish: habitat: primarily Northern Atlantic, from Coastal Norway to Mediterranean and Far banks to North Carolina; body is almost all head; has enormous appetite; usually sold as fillets; description: mild, slightly sweet taste; flesh doesn’t flake easily and is firm like lobster meat; price

--Nantucket Scallops: season runs from October to December; scallops are small and delicate; sweet, briny flavor and delicate texture; expensive

--Cape Bay Scallops: season runs from October to ? , next to Nantucket Bay and very similar; more cost effective.

--Onaga Hawaiian (aka Ruby Snapper): habitat: bottom feeder off the Hawaiian islands, typically 1-18 pounds, available October to March; description: clear, light pink flesh

Opah(moonfish): from Hawaii; 5 to 10 pounds; purple skin, white polka dots; sold by the rack (one rack=one piece, tail off, head off, skin on, bone in); four types of flesh, with each a different color: behind head and along bones is orange, toward belly is pale to pink, inside breastplate is bright red ruby, cheeks is dark red; strong, large-grained meat, excellent for grilling; 75-80% yield

--Opakapaka: Hawaiian pink snapper; clear light pink flesh; moist. bake, poach, saute.

--Orange Roughy: from coastal salt waters of New Zealand; about 3 pounds; all purpose white fleshed fish similar to black fish and scrod; firm, low in fat, mild flavor, with delicate shellfish flavor; sold as fillet only;

--Pacific Yellowtail: BC and Chile to Southern Cali from Central Baja; dark flesh, similar to tuna; best barbecued or smoked; 50% yield;

--Red Fish: from Massachusetts and Gulf of Mexico; available year round; bottom feeder that eats mollusks and small fish; found in sand, mud, and bottom grass inlets

--Red Drum: aka red fish, channel bass…sweet mild flavor and moist flaky texture. Southeast US and in the Gulf of Mexico.

--Red Rock fish: Alaskan red rock fish; deep water fish, feeds on crustaceans so meaty; firm, low in fat with a mild sweet flavor; pan-roasted or fried

--Rouget (African Rouget, or Red Mullet): salt water oily fish, white flesh and delicate flavor; super delicate flesh; feeds on shellfish; from Mediterranean; won’t fillet

--Royal Dorade: description: firm, meaty whitefish

--Salmon: Atlantic: habitat: farm-raised on both the East and West coasts; 75% of the salmon sold in the U.S. is farmed in Chile; available year-round; description: orange-colored skin; rich, pronounced flavor; oil content is similar to King; price (;

--Scorpionfish: member of rockfish family; armed with very sharp spines on head, neck, and fins; connected to venom glands; mild flavored; Pacific Ocean, Cali

--Sea Trout: East coast from Florida to Massachusetts; queens come from Delaware Bay; about 5-6 pounds; called weakfish because of the weakness of the mouth tissues; lives near shore; belongs to drum family; lean, light flesh with a sweet flavor and a moist, delicate texture; cook with sauces, esp. spicy; 50-60% yield;

--Surinane, Sea Trout: South American, gutted, white-pinkish flesh; thinner then U.S. sea trout; 60% yield 2# fish.

--Sepia/Cuttlefish: Eastern Atlantic from England to South Africa; 1 to 2 pounders; kind of octopus;

--Sturgeon: huge fish; firm textured, meaty, high fat content, mild flavor; rich and fatty; wild from California; mostly cartilage, in present form for over 100 million years

--Suzuki Sea Bass: similar to Barramundi.

--Tazmanian Ocean Trout: from New Zealand; similar to arctic char; a distinctive rosy pink/orange flesh and high omega 6 content which makes them an ideal eating fish. The flavour is more subtle and less salty than Atlantic or farmed salmon, and according to many chefs, much better tasting;”

--Tilefish: from East Coast, local from LI; runs 2 to 4 lbs; bottom fish that feeds on small crustaceans; very mild flavor; similar to monkfish and lobster; yield 45%; affordable, between

--Triggerfish: firm, white fish, moist and sweet; firm white flesh almost sweet in flavor, closer to crab than fish; from Florida

--Wahoo (Ono): long, thin relative of tuna and mackerel; expensive, as travels solo rather than in schools; firm, white, tasty meat; less oily and whiter then tuna and mackerel; large, circular flake

--Walleye Pike: mild freshwater fish native to the northern lakes. Bake, broil or fry.

--Whelks: large snails from Maine

--Whitebait: name for various juvenile fishes; rich, strong flavor, high in fat, soft texture; best deep fried

--Wolfish: aka Ocean Catfish. Atlantic; sweet, firm meat (lobster like qualities)

--Tasmanian Ocean Trout: flavor more subtle and less salty then Atl and farm Salmon. 6-7 # fish.

WILD SALMON HEADLINES

Salmon decline could lead to widespread ban - Associated Press

Chinook Salmon Vanish Without a Trace - New York Times

Fishing ban on horizon, groups say; Declining salmon population has anglers preparing for yearlong halt of season as best, perhaps only option - Contra Costa Times

Salmon may be off-limits; Salmon fishing off California and Oregon may be banned. Shrinking numbers prompt consideration of the unprecedented step, which would hurt an already beleaguered industry - Los Angeles Times

Salmon fishermen face dire choices - Sacramento Bee

Salmon season: Brief or none; Most liberal of panel's 3 options allows fraction of normal catch - Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Salmon collapse leaves fishermen high and dry - San Mateo County Times

Prognosis negative for salmon fishing - Eureka Times Standard

River salmon fishers expect at least a partial season - Redding Record Searchlight

SOFT SHELL CRABS


Soft shell crabs, Blue Crab, callinectes sapidus

It seems as though these spring treats have arrived early this year. Some nice big jumbos, and whales are coming from Florida now. I just love soft shells, but if you can wait a few weeks the smaller primes and the decadent hotel sizes will become available. Soft shells are a seasonal spring treat that everyone should try at least once. Nothing is better than biting into a fully dressed soft shell crab sandwich with a tangle of glorious delicious legs protruding from the sides. You can also find some really good frozen soft shells during the off season, that are nearly as good as the fresh ones. Just remember that when you purchase fresh crabs, it is best to purchase live product. Soft shell crabs require a bit of preparation to be pan ready. The front of the shell (were the eyes are) needs to be clipped with sturdy scissors. The apron needs to be removed or cut off. The interior of the crab should be exposed and the lungs removed. All of these tasks can be performed at your local seafood shop as long as you plan on cooking them within 6-8 hours, providing that they are kept refrigerated. A really nice demo is available on cleaning soft shells if you click this link : Expert Village. Beyond cleaning these things are super easy to prepare. A simple dredge in seasoned flour or cornmeal, and a few minutes on each side in hot oil is all you need to do. Bo appetite.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

SHAD ROE


If the time change, and the coming vernal equinox are not enough then perhaps the arrival of the poorbeagle shark, and shad roe will get you excited. The first of the season shad roe are coming out of the south now, mostly from Georgia and North Carolina. Every year I make it a point to have my obligatory serving of shad roe, although I must confess that it is not my favorite food. I certainly would welcome a recipe that wows me. I do like shad roe, but not as much as some people I have met. Some people clamor like children at an Ice cream parlor when they see it on the fish stand. I am sure that when fried up with ample amounts of bacon grease it is great, but so is day old bread.
Anyway, go get yourself some shad roe it is spring after all.