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Friday Fishy News - August 31


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Fish versus AIDS

The Economist

August 30

Fish ponds are helping in the fight against AIDS

Life for Agnes Kanyema is looking up. The retired teacher and her husband are caring for four of their grandchildren, whose parents have all died of AIDS. Their meagre pension is not enough, so they rely on farming to eat and make ends meet. Now, with the help of WorldFish Centre, a non-profit outfit based in Malaysia, Mrs Kanyema also runs a fish pond, which not only provides extra cash and protein but also helps her grow maize and vegetables on her small plot of less than a hectare (2.47 acres). Her pond provides water for crops during droughts and she uses the sediment as fertiliser. The fish and vegetables help feed her family, and she sells the surplus at the local market.

The WorldFish Centre has helped 1,200 families who have lost breadwinners to AIDS to dig and run fish ponds in southern Malawi's Zomba district. The small landlocked southern African country relies heavily on subsistence farming. But HIV/AIDS, erratic rains, overpopulation and soil erosion are taking a big toll, making it hard for farmers on tiny plots to survive. With Malawi's main lake overfished, people are losing a big source of protein. In the 1970s they ate 14 kilos of fish per person a year; now they consume just four kilos.

The ponds, which are easy to maintain, cost only $200 to make and $10 to stock with fish. They are filled from the water table or by nearby streams; rain keeps them going. The fish are fed from farm waste and by-products, such as chicken manure and maize bran. According to WorldFish, families with fish ponds have doubled their income and now eat 150% more fresh fish. Malnutrition among children under five has apparently dropped from 45% to 15% in three years. Mrs Kanyema passes on the training she has received on fish-breeding and on how to use her pond for agriculture to her neighbours.

Pond owners sell most of their fish and vegetables locally, where there is enough demand to keep everything fresh. But they are also being taught to smoke fish, which keeps it for two weeks. Daniel Jamu, WorldFish's regional director, says that the next step is to help farmers club together to market their produce in the towns, where prices are higher.

Many poor farmers are starting to view aquaculture as easier and cheaper than raising cattle. WorldFish is expanding the project to reach another 26,000 families in neighbouring Mozambique and Zambia, as well as Malawi.

Fishers warned of coral reef fin fish restrictions

ABC News Online

August 30

Fines of up to $75,000 will soon apply to those caught fishing coral reef fin fish.

It will be illegal to catch coral trout, cods, gropers, red emperors and parrot fish over three nine-day periods during October, November and December during the spawning season.

The restrictions apply to Queensland's east coast.

Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries' resource manager Dr Brigid Kerrigan says tough penalties apply to those who break the law.

"These closures are very important. Commercial fishermen have the potential to target fish during these periods of time that the fish are aggregating to spawn, so it's another measure just to ensure that there's going to be plenty of coral reef fin fish out there on the reef for people to fish into the future," Dr Kerrigan said.

Underwater noise harming fish


August 25

Man-made underwater noise threatens the health and reproductive capacity of many fish and marine mammals, an Italian researcher says.

In an interview with the news agency Ansa, Fabrizio Borsani of the marine research institute ICRAM in Rome said noise is deadly to some species. He said fish with inflatable bladders like cod can even explode.

Borsani recently attended the first international conference on marine noise held in Nyborg, Denmark. He said an increase in shipping and coastal construction, off-shore wind farms and oil drilling are responsible for increased underwater noise.

The increase is even affecting fish farmers. He said farmed salmon in Canada and the United States are smaller if they are closer to sources of noise.

In the Mediterranean, some whales are not reproducing because they do not hear mating calls, he said.

Breeding a $5,000 fish

How I turned my hobby of raising koi into a successful business

By Joseph Zuritzky

Owner, Quality Koi Co.


August 27


I am the CEO of Parkway Corp., a Philadelphia company that operates 100 parking facilities in the U.S. My second business, breeding koi, started as a hobby. I bought about 40, to study what makes these beautiful fish so valuable. What is the best body shape? Is that brilliant red pattern going to disappear in six months, leaving the customer with an inferior fish? Many dealers base a koi's price on what it looks like today. We grade them according to what they'll look like over the years.

I launched this operation in southern New Jersey in 2002. Most U.S. koi breeders sell to the mass market; I saw an opportunity to breed better-quality fish for serious hobbyists. Most U.S. dealers fly to Japan and buy everything but tategoi, the highest-quality koi. They are too expensive. A five-inch fish, which will live about 50 years, costs more than $1,400 wholesale.

At Quality Koi (qualitykoi.com) we sell that same fish for less than $1,000. We breed 40 types of koi and sell 20,000 to 30,000 fish a year, 90% of which we sell wholesale to dealers. Their customers are hobbyists, who pay $15 to $5,000 a fish. Some have won prizes in fish shows against Japanese competitors. I've invested more in the farm than I ever thought I would. We expect to turn an operating profit at the end of this year, with revenues exceeding $500,000.

We've had many surprises. Four years ago thousands of fish disappeared in one day. We tested the water and found nothing wrong. A Japanese consultant visited and told us, "You have to walk the ponds." With each step, you release methane trapped beneath the clay bottom. Unless you release the gas regularly, it can erupt with such force that it disintegrates the fish. After five years we're still learning how to run the farm.

Fish and mushrooms still toxic from Chernobyl

IOL News - South Africa

August 28

Twenty-one years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine, fish and mushrooms in parts of Finland are still toxic due to radioactive fallout, Finnish authorities said on Monday.

The concentration of cesium-137 exceeded the EU maximum recommended level in 20 percent of fish and more than half of the mushrooms tested in 2005 by the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority and Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira.

The tests were conducted in the lakes and region around Vammala, 230km north-west of Helsinki in south-western Finland - the Finnish area most affected by the fallout from the Chernobyl disaster on April 26, 1986.

Radioactivity levels reached nearly three and a half times the maximum recommended level in fish and up to nine times the maximum in mushrooms, with significant variations depending on where the tests were carried out and other factors.

Seventeen percent of fish also had elevated levels of mercury.

Finnish authorities recommend consumers eat lake fish no more than once or twice a month - expectant mothers are advised to stay away from pike entirely during their pregnancy - and to wash mushrooms well before eating.


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