Jump to content

Friday Fishy News - February 23


Recommended Posts

Fish eating mums help kids scale heights

Nine MSN News

February 18

Children of mothers who ate more fish and other seafood while pregnant are smarter and have better developmental skills than kids of women who ate less or none, researchers said in findings they called surprising.

The study, sure to be controversial, sought to assess whether it is wise, as some experts and the US government have recommended, for pregnant women to limit their seafood intake to avoid mercury, a toxin that can harm the nervous system of developing fetuses.

Dr Joseph Hibbeln, a US National Institutes of Health researcher who led the study in The Lancet medical journal, said seafood is a key source of omega-3 fatty acids, important for fetal brain development.

The researchers said limiting pregnant women's weekly intake to 340 grams of fish and seafood, as advised by the US government, did not protect their children from developmental problems. Women who avoid seafood, they said, may actually be harming their babies by depriving them of essential nutrients needed for the developing fetal brain.

"It was very surprising," Hibbeln said in an interview.

"We did not expect such clear-cut results of the harm of low seafood consumption."

The study looked at the children of more than 8,000 British women tracked by the University of Bristol to determine how kids fared if their mothers ate more than 340 grams - about two average meals.

These children, compared to those whose mothers ate lesser amounts, were more advanced in developmental tests measuring fine motor, communication and social skills as toddlers, behaved better at age seven, and earned higher verbal IQ scores at age eight, the study found.

The differences were striking when looking at kids whose mothers ate no seafood. They were 48 per cent more likely to have a relatively low verbal IQ score at age eight compared to children whose mothers ate the higher amount of seafood.

The Environmental Working Group, which calls the US recommendations too lenient, said the study highlighted the need for governments to take actions to keep pollutants out of seafood, like cracking down on coal-burning power plants.

"The study reinforces the importance of keeping our seafood supply clean, making sure it's not overly contaminated with mercury and other chemicals that could actually harm brain development," said Jane Houlihan, the group's vice president for research.

Mercury can build up in fish living in waters contaminated with it due to industrial pollution. Mercury can be particularly bad for fetuses and children because it can cause neurological and developmental problems.

In 2004 the US Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration advised pregnant women and young children to eat no more than 12 ounces per week of light tuna and other seafood lower in mercury.

The agencies recommended they eat none of some fish with high mercury levels - shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish - and no more than 170 grams a week of albacore tuna because of mercury.

"When you look at the net benefits of the nutrients in seafood and the net risks in seafood, it appears that the advisory inadvertently causes the harm that it was intended to prevent," Hibbeln said.

In a commentary in Lancet, Dr. Gary Myers and Philip Davidson of the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York wrote, "These results highlight the importance of including fish in the maternal diet during pregnancy and lend support to the popular opinion that fish is brain food."

Scientists develop fish-like sensors

Mosters and Critics.com

February 21

CHAMPAIGN, IL, United States (UPI) -- Fish use sensory organs to find prey and avoid attack; now U.S. scientists have created artificial sensors to do the same thing for underwater vehicles.

University of Illinois Professor Chang Liu said the grouping of specialized sensory organs fish use along the sides of their bodies is called their lateral line. Now, a research team led by Liu has built an artificial lateral line.

In fish, the lateral line provides guidance for synchronized swimming, predator and obstacle avoidance and prey detection and tracking. Equipped with an artificial lateral line, a submarine or underwater robot could similarly detect and track moving underwater targets and avoid collisions with other objects.

The artificial lateral line consists of an integrated linear array of micro fabricated flow sensors, with the sizes of individual sensors and spacing between them matching those of their biological counterpart.

'By detecting changes in water pressure and movement, the device can supplement sonar and vision systems in submarines and underwater robots,' said Liu.

He and colleagues at Bowling Green (Ohio) State University detailed their work in the Dec. 12 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Villager catches giant deep-sea fish

By Roel Pareno

The Philippine Star

February 23

ZAMBOANGA CITY – A rare giant deep-sea sunfish, caught by a resident of a coastal fishing village east of this city, died at dawn Sunday.

The sunfish is locally known as "mulamula" and belongs to the order of bony fishes called Tetraodontiformes. It has a flat, oval body that is taller than it is long due to its large and high dorsal and anal fins.

This particular specimen, 2.3 meters long and 1.3 meters wide, was caught by Rizalino Rebollos at about 1 p.m. Saturday after it beached off Barangay Bolong. It was brought to the Sangali Fishing Port for examination, where it drew a huge crowd.

It took about 10 to 15 people to flip the one-ton sunfish on its side, and a forklift to transport it.

"The fish appeared to be weak when I saw it beaching off the coast," said Rebollos, who immediately informed the city’s agriculture office personnel.

The giant grey-brown sunfish, however, died Sunday for still unknown reasons.

City agriculturist Boy Palacat said it was the first time a sunfish has beached at the Zamboanga peninsula. He said this specimen could have been washed ashore by strong currents since it was already weak.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources will conduct an autopsy to determine the cause of this sunfish’s death, he said.

"It is believed that the fish was very old and died because it was already weak," Palacat said.

After the autopsy, the sunfish will be preserved for public display, perhaps in a museum, he added.

Deepwater fish under the gun

with Oregon State University

Cosmos magazine

February 20

SAN FRANCISCO: As catches close to shore decline, commercial fishers are increasingly exploiting unsustainable stocks in the cold and gloom of the deep oceans, according to researchers.

A panel at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science reported on Sunday that overfishing in deep waters is putting at risk the most vulnerable of all fish stocks.

"We're not really fishing there. We're mining there. We're taking what appears to be a renewable resource and turning it into a nonrenewable one," said U.S. panel member Elliott Norse, of the Marine Conservation Biology Institute in Bellevue, Washington. "The number of people who want fish is not going down, but the number of fish is."

"The harvest of deep-sea fishes is a lot like the harvest of old-growth timber," said Selina Heppell, a fisheries biologist from Oregon State University in Corvallis, "Except we don't ‘replant' the fish. We have to depend on the fish to replenish themselves. And the habitat that used to provide them protection – the deep ocean – is now accessible to fishing because of new technologies."

The shift to fishing at depths of more than 180 metres is new. These areas began to be exploited after overfishing caused a decline in catch in more shallow coastal waters, said Norse.

Much of the deepwater fishing occurs around seamounts, extinct volcanoes that rise from the seafloor to within several hundred feet of the surface. Cold, nutrient-rich upwellings around the seamounts bring food up from the abyssal depths, and many species congregate there to find food and mates. This concentration makes them easier to catch, said Norse.

According to panel members, slow growth and reproduction makes deep-living species particularly vulnerable because they are slow to replenish their stocks. Some deepwater species don't mature until they are 40 years old and may live for 240 years. Long-lived fish usually have low reproductive rates, either because of low breeding success or high mortality. In the case of deep-sea fishes, both scenarios often play out.

While shallow water skipjack tuna may spawn every day in summer, deep-living orange roughy - actually the re-named slimehead fish - spawn only every two years. "When you buy orange roughy at the store, you are probably purchasing a fillet from a fish that is at least 50 years old," Heppell said. "Most people don't think of the implications of that. Perhaps we need a guideline that says we shouldn't eat fish that are as old as our grandmothers."

Hempell agreed with Norse that congregating together, such as at seamounts, increased their vulnerability, and noted these fish are the least monitored and protected in the oceans.

In addition, Heppell said, rising market value of fish has led to marketing campaigns to increase sales, such as renaming the slimehead fish orange roughy and the toothfish as Chilean sea bass.

Krista Baker of Memorial University in Newfoundland, Canada, reported that about 40 per cent of deep sea species in Canadian waters are either endangered or show significant decline.

She estimated that because of slow reproduction it would take 12 to 90 years for stocks of roughead grenadier fish to recover if fishing were halted, and 13 to 130 years for roundhead grenadiers.

Other species of fish could take even longer to recover, reported the panel members. According to Heppell, "There are models that estimate the recovery time for some rockfish species is at least 200 years … and we still don't know all of the factors that influence their survival."

Uganda: Glowing Vietnam catfish threat to fish exports

By Dorothy Nakaweesi

The Monitor (Kampala)


February 20

Vietnam's massive out put of Pangasius catfish, whose white meat is very similar to that of Nile perch, is flooding EU markets and is affecting Uganda's export revenue

A glowing catfish from Vietnam is posing stiff competition to Nile perch, Uganda's most successful fish export to the European Union, according to the Fisheries Department.

The country's annual earnings from fish exports last year suffered a shortfall of about $7 million (Shs12 billion), due to booming exports of Pangasius hypophthalmus from Vietnam.

"Vietnam's massive production of Pangasius species, whose white meat is closely related to the Nile perch, hit the EU market, and it affected our returns," Fisheries Commissioner Dick Nyeko said in an interview with Business Power.

Last year, Uganda exported 3,000 tonnes fewer of Nile perch fish fillets to the EU, and earnings slumped by 25 per cent. The country earned Shs244 billion, down from the Shs255 billion earned from the 35,000 tonnes exported the previous year.

Mr Nyeko said about 100,000 tonnes of whole fish are harvested annually from Lake Victoria, but only 32,000 tonnes are exported as fillets. What remains is used as by-products or becomes waste. Spain continues to be the main EU market for Nile perch fillets, followed by France and Italy.

Regionally Uganda's fish exports go mainly to the DR Congo and Southern Sudan.

Overall Nile perch exports to the EU from all of East Africa dropped from 56,000 tonnes in 2004 to 52,000 tonnes in 2005.

In that year the price of Nile perch in the EU rose to euros 4.00 (Shs9,600) per kilogramme from euros 3,43 (Shs8,160). This is still far below the record level of euros 5.00 per kilogramme (Shs12, 000) reached in 2002 after the end of the EU import ban.

Nile perch stocks drop

According to the Fish Info Network Market Report 2006 from the Food and Agriculture Organisation, stocks of Nile perch are dropping in Lake Victoria.

According to FAO statistics, in 1980 Nile perch made up 90 per cent of the fish population in the lake. In 2005 that figure had dropped to less than 50 per cent. This decline is attributed to the stiff competition from other species and the drop in the water level of the lake. The drop in the Nile perch stocks resulted last year in a 60 per cent increase in the price of whole fish to $2 (Shs 3, 600) at the plant gate.

The fall in fish stocks could soon cause massive loss of livelihood for thousands of fishmen, fishmongers, fish processors and other fish handlers.

"Fishermen have to travel long distances to get supplies. The shortage has been caused by different transaction costs faced by fishermen and transporters and the high demand. Fishermen charged high prices to recover other costs," the report said.


The FAO report suggests that the industry is looking into other ventures. Some companies are investing in aquaculture, some in waste recovery, and some are looking to other fish like tilapia for further processing.

Mr Nyeko approves of these suggestions and is calling for increased investment in fish farming (aquaculture) if the country is to boost fish production.

It is estimated that more than 2,000 farmers are involved in aquaculture, harvesting more than 15,000 tonnes of fish per year.

"To be able to export this type of fish we need inspectors from the EU to carry out a monitoring programme and certify the farmers. But this should not stop people from farming because there other markets in the region," Mr Nyeko said.

He predicted that with the success of interventions like the proper beach management schemes, responsible processing and harvesting, plus increased aquaculture, the country will be able to earn at least $160 million (Shs288 billion) by the end of 2007.

Mr Nyeko said that a strong private sector will also help organise the producers to boost production and maintain the quality.

Currently there are 16 companies exporting fish under the Uganda Fish Processors and Exporters Association.

Theyinclude Freshwater Fish Exporters, Igloo Food Industries, Oakwood Investments, Green Field Ltd, Tampa Fisheries Ltd , Fishways Uganda Ltd , Uganda Fish Packers, and Hwang Sung.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...