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Friday Fishy News - March 16


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This next story comes after another such incident that I mentioned here.

Boy dies after swallowing live fish

GMA News - USA

March 14

What started out as a joke turned deadly for a 15-year-old boy who choked after accidentally swallowing a live fish in General Santos City Tuesday.

Radio dzBB reported Wednesday that the boy, initially identified as Johnny Talino, 15, of Sarangani province, failed to reach a nearby hospital alive.

The report cited initial information indicating that Johnny was at a gathering with his father and his friends when he jokingly put a live fish in his mouth.

But the fish slipped through his hands and into his mouth, and was briefly lodged in his throat.

After swallowing the fish, Johnny could not get the fish out of his throat and had difficulty breathing. He was rushed to a nearby hospital but died on the way there.

Fishermen find a skull in their net

By Dennis Wong

New Straits Times - Malaysia

March 14

A group of fishermen fishing in waters off Kuala Sungai Rajang hauled up a different kind of catch when they found a skull in their nets.

The fishermen berthed at the Bintawa fishing village today and reported their find at the Bintawa police station.

Kuching deputy police chief Superintendent William Poro said the skull looked old and it would be difficult to determine the cause of death.

"The skull could be of a crew member of one of the many ships and fishing boats which had capsized in these waters. But it will not be easy to identify the victim.”

The skull has been sent to Sarawak General Hospital for DNA testing.

Methylmercury contaminating fish - pregnant women warned


March 11

According to an international team of scientists pregnant women should be wary of eating some types of fish because of mercury contamination.

The scientists say that greater controls are needed on power plants and the international trade in mercury to curb environmental damage, which they say is a global problem.

According to the "Madison Declaration on Mercury Pollution" published this week in a special issue of the international science journal Ambio, the health risks posed by mercury contaminated fish is sufficient to warrant issuing a worldwide general warning to the public.

The declaration is a synopsis of the latest scientific knowledge about the danger posed by mercury pollution and presents 33 principal findings from five synthesis papers prepared by the world's leading mercury scientists.

Methylmercury exposure now constitutes a public health problem in most regions of the world due to the use of fossil fuels, especially coal and the uncontrolled use of mercury in small-scale gold mining.

Methylmercury in the atmosphere is deposited in waterways and the sea where it is taken up by aquatic organisms.

On its way up the food chain it becomes concentrated and can reach high levels in large predatory fish, such as tuna, shark and swordfish.

Mercury is of particular danger to the developing foetus, and exposure can cause permanent damage when the nervous system is developing.

It is also thought to contribute to health problems in adults such as an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Apart from accumulating in predatory fish, the highly toxic form of methylmercury also builds up in fish-eating birds and mammals such as bald eagles, divers, otters, polar bears and seals and the scientists say tough international agreements on acceptable levels of mercury pollution are needed to address the problem.

Eating fish boosts mood , drives depression away

By Sade Oguntola

Nigerian Tribune

March 15

Intake of fish rich in oils because of its omega-3 fatty acids content has being said to be helpful to boost mood and cognition by scientists.

Omega-3 fatty acids, found in significant quantities in salmon, swordfish, and tuna will help relieve depression in people already in maintenance therapy for depression, the study also discovered.

The finding carried out in Israel supports previous British research which suggested the anti-depressant properties of fish oils .In a study involving 20 people with recurrent depression, researchers studied the effects of a specific omega-3 fatty acid, known as E-EPA.

Patients randomly received either the fish oil capsule or a sugar pill in addition to the antidepressant medication they were taking. After four weeks, six out of 10 patients receiving E-EPA, and only one of 10 receiving the placebo, had significantly reduced symptoms of depression. The study was published in the March issue of American Journal of Psychiatry.

The effect of E-EPA was significant from week two of treatment. This,the lead author Boris Nemets, a researcher at Ben Gurian University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel noted is helpful with that such symptoms as depressed mood, guilt feelings, worthlessness, and insomnia. The symptoms had all improved.

In the past, animal studies have found that raising omega-3 intake leads to structural brain changes. In humans, a link between omega-3 and mood has been observed, but no mechanism for this has been identified.

Sarah Conklin, PhD, and colleagues from the University of Pittsburgh’s Cardiovascular Behavioural Medicine Programme assessing 55 healthy adults found that those who had high levels of omega-3 intake also had higher levels of grey matter in areas of the brain associated with emotional arousal and regulation.

An assessment of their grey matter volume using high-resolution structural Magnectic resonance Imaging (MRI) scan suggests that omega-3 may promote structural improvement in areas of the brain related to mood and emotions, the researchers said at the annual meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society in Budapest, Hungary.

Ability of fish to boost mood and improve mental health, a survey of 200 people carried out in Britain also corroborated.

The researchers that did the survey found 88 per cent of those studied reporting that changing their diet improved their mental health significantly. Twenty six per cent said they had seen large improvements in mood swings, 26 per cent in panic attacks and anxiety and 24 per cent in depression, according to a report on the study by BBC Health.

The participants said that cutting down on food ‘stressors’ and increasing the amount of ‘supporters’ they ate helped to improve their mood.

Stressors were foods such as sugar (80 per cent), caffeine (79 per cent), alcohol (55 per cent) and chocolate (53 per cent). Supporters included water (80 per cent), vegetables (78 per cent), fruit (72 per cent) and oil-rich fish (52 per cent).

Eating regularly and not skipping breakfast were also highlighted as ways to boost mental health, noted the report.

Previous trials have shown that omega-3s can help improve memory, mood, concentration and behaviour in children with learning and behavioural difficulties as well as significantly reduce the chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease in those who ate fish at least once a week by 60 per cent compared to those who never or rarely ate fish.

Pregnant women who eat more of fish give their babies better chances of mature brain development. Omega-3 fatty acid along with another substance, arachidonic acid (AA), are key building blocks in breast milk that contribute to healthy brain and eye development.

These new mothers are also at a lower risk of post-natal depression. Low levels of dietary omega-3 are associated with low levels of a brain chemical called serotonin, which contributes to depression. Fish fatty acids have power to destroy cancer, improved bone health by minimising bone loss and may “partially” reduce heart disease in diabetic patients.

Newly Discovered Fish Facing Extinction

The Post Chronicle

March 13

An aquarium species discovered in Southeast Asia in August is facing possible extinction because of intense demand for the colorful fish.

The celestial pearl danio -- Celestichthys margaritatus -- was discovered by a commercial aquarium fish dealer near the town of Hopong in Myanmar, formerly Burma, along the China and Thailand borders.

Measuring less than an inch, the fish is deep blue with pearly pink or golden iridescent spots, National Geographic News reported. It lives in heavily vegetated ponds in that remote northern area.

Initially the danio's location was kept secret, but other commercial dealers soon learned of the fish, Tyson Roberts, an ichthyologist told National Geographic. Within a few months, one Thai company alone had exported about 15,000 of the fish, Roberts said, and, since then, exportation is estimated to have reached 10 times that amount, mainly to Japan, North America, and Europe.

"Captive breeding may be the only way for the aquarium hobbyist to ensure a supply of the species in the future, since it reportedly is already nearly fished out in the area where it was discovered," Roberts said.

He detailed the discovery in last week's issue of the journal the Raffles Bulletin of Zoology.

U.S. seeks to allow fish farms in deep ocean

By John Heilprin


March 11

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration wants to allow ocean farming for shellfish, salmon and saltwater species in federal waters for the first time, hoping to grab a greater share of the $70 billion aquaculture market.

A plan being announced Monday by Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez would let companies operate fish farms three miles to 200 miles offshore, but without some of the rules on size, season and harvest methods that apply to other commercial fishermen.

Fish farms already operate on inland and coastal waters as far as three miles into the ocean, which fall under state jurisdiction.

Environmental concerns have arisen about wastewater generated by such operations. Gutierrez, however, said the administration's proposal had safeguards and would permit states to ban fish farming up to 12 miles off their coast.

'We believe we can do it in a way that is environmentally sound, that makes sense for our economy. And given that we are importing so much farm-raised fish, we might as well do it ourselves," Gutierrez told The Associated Press.

The plan, to be presented at the International Boston Seafood Show, would help the $1 billion U.S. aquaculture industry roughly double over the next few decades, he said.

Globally, the $70 billion aquaculture business accounts for almost half the seafood consumed in the world today as wild fish stocks decline.

About 70 percent of all the seafood eaten in the United States comes from overseas, contributing "a trade deficit of about $9 billion in fish," Gutierrez said. Almost half is farm-raised.

Farming of saltwater species such as salmon and shrimp is common in countries such as Thailand, Canada, China and Scotland. Much of their catch is sold in the United States.

Until now, the U.S. industry has focused mainly on catfish, tilapia and other freshwater fish. Some ocean farms raise shellfish such as mussels, clams and oysters, as well as shrimp and salmon.

"We can do it a lot better than anyone else," Gutierrez told the AP. "We believe that the power of the marketplace will be what determines the success here."

Only three years ago the Environmental Protection Agency begin regulating the more than 200 fish farms that generate wastewater poured directly into U.S. waterways.

Fish farming companies also must consult with the Food and Drug Administration, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Agriculture Department and other federal and state environmental agencies.

But the United States lacks regulations for aquaculture in federal marine waters that extend three miles to 200 miles offshore, where U.S. jurisdiction ends.

The administration wants Congress to pass legislation that would let the Commerce Department issue 20-year permits to companies that raise fish in deep ocean waters. The permits would exempt companies from regulations that apply to other commercial fishermen and are intended to restrict size, season and harvest methods.

The administration's proposal would:

— Authorize $4 million for the program, starting in October 2008.

— Require companies to post bonds or other financial guarantees that they will remove the farms when operations end.

— Impose fines of up to $250,000 a day per violation and criminal penalties of up to five years in prison and $500,000 in fines, or $1 million for a group.

Gutierrez said the government "can be pretty objective" about regulating the aquaculture despite seeking to promote it. "This ties in very well with reducing overfishing," he said. "This is very much the future, and we need to get to work to be able to have an adequate supply of fish."

Some marine experts, however, say fish farming adds to overfishing because most farms involve carnivorous fish that are fed more fish protein than the farms produce. They say the farms release pesticides, antibiotics and other chemicals, and cause genetic contamination of wild fish.

"The growth of aquaculture is questionable, as we are using the wild fish to grind up to feed the farmed fish," said Charles Clover, author of The End Of The Line, a book on overfishing.

"It promotes overfishing for forage fish, and it's putting the farmed fish out with the wild fish — you don't really want the diseases to get into the wild population," he said.

The National Aquaculture Association says on its Web site that "legitimate concerns about aquaculture's environmental impact are sometimes raised" but that fish farming has boomed because it is "environmentally compatible" and U.S. consumers like eating farmed seafood.

In January, a report from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Pew Charitable Trusts recommended that Congress set up a permitting system for offshore aquaculture that includes environmental safeguards to protect fish species and water quality.

An earlier administration plan won little support in Congress last year. Senate Democrats cited potential risks with pollution and genetic mixing of farmed and wild fish.

Last month, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, proposed blocking aquaculture in federal waters until Congress can study how it might affect Alaska's wild salmon, halibut, sablefish and crab.


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