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Friday Fishy News - March 2


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Hi Raiders, I was incredibly strapped for content on Friday night - looks like Pete covered most of the interesting stories from the week. I delayed posting the news for a couple of days to find some decent stories. Hope you enjoy them:

New Sharks, Rays Discovered in Indonesia Fish Markets

By James Owen

National Geographic News

March 1

At least 20 previously unknown species of sharks and rays have been found during a survey of local fish markets in Indonesia, scientists say.

The five-year study focused on catches from tropical seas around the Southeast Asian country, which encompasses more than 17,000 islands.

So far six of the new species have been described in scientific journals. These include the Bali catshark, the Jimbaran shovelnose ray, and the Hortle's whipray (see photos of some of the species found during the survey).

Scientists are preparing to describe a further 14 of the species.

In total more than 130 species were sampled between 2001 and 2006 at 11 ports across Indonesia.

The Australian-led team behind the study says their work will provide the first ever detailed description of Indonesia's sharks and rays, including information critical to the marine animals' conservation.

Indonesia has the most diverse ray and shark fauna in the world, said study co-author William White, of the marine research division of Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) based in Hobart, Tasmania.

The island region also has the world's largest shark and ray fishery, White said, with reported landings of more than 110,000 tons (100,000 metric tons) a year.

"Good taxonomic information is critical to managing shark and ray species, which reproduce relatively slowly and are extremely vulnerable to overfishing," White said in statement.

"Before this survey, however, there were vast gaps in our knowledge of sharks and rays in this region."

Conservation Aid

In addition to cataloging new species, the Australian team's data will be used for estimating population sizes, assessing the impacts of fishing, and developing conservation measures for at-risk species.

Sarah Fowler is co-chair of the shark specialist group for the nonprofit World Conservation Union (IUCN).

Fowler said the survey is a "really important start toward the process of providing names for these animals and starting to draw people's attention to the fact they could be threatened almost before they are described."

More than 800 specimens collected during the fish market trawls are now lodged at the Museum Zoologicum Bogoriense on the Indonesian island of Java and at the Australian National Fish Collection in Hobart.

The survey also forms the basis of a new field guide called Economically Important Sharks and Rays of Indonesia that is available in English and Indonesian.

The guide represents the first in-depth report of Indonesia's sharks and rays since Dutch scientist Pieter Bleeker described more than 1,100 new fish species between 1842 and 1860, the survey team said.

At the time scientists in Europe rejected Bleeker's finds, saying they doubted such high levels of diversity could exist among marine life.

However, many of the species Bleeker described were rediscovered more than a century later in fish markets in Jakarta in the mid-1990s.

New Species Bonanza

Indonesia, the world's most extensive archipelago, is thought to have the highest diversity of native marine wildlife in the world.

A recent expedition to the seas of West Papua led by the nonprofit Conservation International turned up some 50 previously unknown species, including sharks that "walk" along coral reefs on their fins.

"It's extraordinary—for large animals like this—just how many new species are being discovered," IUCN's Fowler said.

She noted, however, that in nearby Australia more than 30 percent of sharks and rays are found nowhere else.

"So it's not a surprise that as people go through the markets in Indonesia that they find these new species," she said.

Many of the smaller sharks living in the waters around Indonesia are not found elsewhere, she added, because they are not good swimmers.

The main threat to such populations comes from small, intensive coastal fisheries and subsistence fisheries.

Together, she said, both fishing practices "take very, very large quantities of sharks and rays."

For pictures of these new species, follow this link: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/20...rays/index.html

New Fish Species Is Identified

The Post Chronicle

February 26

U.S. scientists say they have identified a new species of fish that closely resemble the threatened white marlin.

Researchers at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Fla., and the school's Guy Harvey Research Institute, say many fish believed to be white marlins might have been roundscale underwaterfish, which bear a close resemblance to the white marlin. And that raises concerns about the remaining numbers of the threatened white marlin species.

The discovery and its implications are detailed in the current issue of the journal Bulletin of Marine Science. © UPI


White Marlin or Roundscale underwaterfish?

Dead fish wash up near Shell

Jeff Whalley

The Geelong Advertiser

February 28

HUNDREDS of dead fish washed up at a Shell Corio Bay outfall after being caught up at a seawater intake supplying water for refinery cooling.

Victoria's Environment Protection Authority yesterday said Shell had no case to answer over the deaths of hundreds of fish on Monday as they had not been killed ``by result of a pollution incident or discharge of any substance''.

The fish were found by two passers-by late on Monday night at a refinery outfall.

EPA senior manager of rural services John Williamson said the two people quickly alerted his organisation of the incident.

Mr Williamson thanked the alert locals for their quick response.

``An officer attended and observed several hundred small dead fish, mainly black bream, in the vicinity of a Shell Refinery outfall,'' he said.

Mr Williamson said the fish were killed when they entered Shell's seawater intake and passed through a screen and press used to stop seaweed.

``This is an unfortunate incident . . . Shell uses significant quantities of water from Corio Bay for process cooling that is returned to the bay,'' he said.

``The water is screened to remove any seaweed and occasionally fish are caught up in this process.''

Mr Williamson said Shell had publicly committed to phasing out the use of salt water from the bay and that the EPA would be ``discussing this as a priority''.

A spokeswoman from Shell said the company had invested more than 1000 hours searching for a solution to stop fish getting into the refinery through the saltwater intake.

``This includes using alternative screens, repelling fish or installing fish diversions. To date we have not found a viable solution. We will continue to discuss this issue with EPA for potential solutions,'' she said.

High-Tech Farm Raises Fish in Deep Sea

Digital Chosunilbo - China

March 2

Thanks to new engineering and undersea cultivation skills, fish farmers are raising seafood in the middle of the sea. Because fish in offshore fish farms grow in near-natural environments, their rate of survival is higher and they taste almost the same as natural-grown ones.

You can't see it above the surface, but underwater lies the outcome of years of scientific work: six huge diamond-shaped pens 25 to 34 meters across and 15 to 22 meters high. In these pens, farmers are raising 400,000 striped beakperch, 200,000 mackerel and 150,000 red sea bream. Tens of thousands of sciaenoid fish, yellow corbina and other species are being test grown and in 2010 they plan to add tuna and flatfish.


The “cages” as they are called were installed in 2005 by Jeju Fisheries Research Institute and a local fish farm association. The cages are so high-tech that it took the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 10 years and US$100 million to develop them.

According to Yang Jun-bong, a representative of the fish farm association, although the underwater cages seem to be simple structures, they are actually very complex. In order to keep the pens at a constant depth, like submarines they have to achieve neutral buoyancy -- in which the weight of the object under water is equal to the upward buoyant force of the water.

The pens also had to be specially constructed to withstand high tides and bad weather, and the nets are made of a special fiber designed to last 10 years. They've been nature-tested already: when Typhoon Nabi hit in 2005 and Ewinear in 2006, five buoys above water were lost but little damage was done.

Offshore fish farms benefit from the deep sea's natural conditions. The temperature of the water varies much less at sea than it does on the coast, and thanks to ocean currents, the water is constantly purified. Coastal pollutants and red tide rarely appear so fish are healthier and live longer.

They also taste better. Since the fish swim and grow in a cleaner, more natural environment, they are bigger and they taste more like their wild cousins. Coastal fish farmers constantly worry about their inventory dying, so they tend to sell younger fish. But offshore fish farmers can wait until the fish are more bigger and more mature.

Some W2 billion (US$1=W942) was invested in the Jeju offshore farm, and it posted more than W500 million in sales last year. When five more farms are activated in 2009, annual sales of more than W5 billion are expected. Based on Jeju's successful example, Tongyeong, South Gyeongsang Province and Yeosu, South Jeolla Province are planning to establish and test offshore fish farms.

Woman Sentenced For Smuggling Fish In Her Dress

By Shaveta Bansal

All Headline News

March 2

Melbourne, Australia (AHN) - Sharon Naismith, 45, was caught in June 2005 when custom officers at Melbourne airport smelled something fishy about her. The Australian woman was caught smuggling 51 live exotic Asian fish under her skirt and on Friday she was sentenced to nine months of community service.

According to officials at Australian Customs, officers became suspicious of Naismith after they heard some "flipping" noises coming from her clothes. A search found a multi-pocketed apron carrying 15 plastic bags filled with water and fish under her skirt, according to AP reports.

The rare fish were estimated to be worth thousands of dollars.

Australian Customs acting national manager of investigations Doug Nicoll said the sentence reflected the seriousness of wildlife smuggling, which he described as a "cruel practice."

"(Such) offenders ignore the health and well being of the animals," he said, according to AP reports, adding that such illegally imported animals "can also be potential carriers of disease and harm the Australian fish industry."


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