Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Curious about NH Fisheries? Check out our new overview page!

Matt Magnusson, a PhD Candidate at the UNH Whittemore School of Business and Economics, has written an overview of NH Fisheries which has been included as a new page in this blog.  This is an excellent summary of NH Fisheries and provides a good description of our small, but important fishing industry.  NH fishing is important for alot of reasons.  For example, because NH fishermen tend to work from smaller vessels and since fishing statistics are typically integrated to the state level, trends in the NH Fishery tell a much broader story about what is happening to smaller vessels throughout the Northeast.   If you have any questions about this or any other topic related to NH or Northeast fisheries, please post a question at our "Ask an Expert" widget found in the right-hand side-bar.  Also, feel free to leave comments here or at any article that interests you!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Is eating tuna bad for you?

Weighing the health benefits of eating seafood can be a confusing, to say the least. Last week, Consumer Reports produced an article that suggests that pregnant women and young children should avoid eating more than a small amount of tuna. Let's take a look at how they made their recommendation.

In the study, a total of 42 samples (including white or albacore tuna and light or skipjack tuna) were collected and mercury levels were measured by an independent lab. The results found that white tuna had 0.217 to 0.774 parts per million (ppm) of mercury, averaging 0.427 ppm. Light tuna had much lower mercury levels; 0.018 to 0.176 ppm, with an average of 0.071 ppm. None of the samples exceeded the Food and Drug Administrations mercury limit of 1ppm. However, Consumer Reports based its recommendation on the Environmental Protection Agency's reference dose (RfD) for mercury. This reference dose is the recommended limit for daily intake of mercury throughout an individual's lifetime.

Consumer Reports is recommending that at-risk populations (pregnant women and young children) avoid going over this limit so they should not consume more than 2.5 ounces of white (albacore) tuna or 5 ounces of light (skipjack) tuna a day is unsafe for at-risk populations.

Skipjack tuna is sold as "light tuna" and is relatively low in mercury
Health benefits of eating fish complicate the issue.  As many of us know, there are significant health benefits for eating tuna which are high in Omega-3 fatty acids. Experts suggest that individuals in the at-risk population consider focusing on eating fish species that are associated with low mercury thereby still getting the cardiac and developmental benefits of Omega-3's. 

All this information can make decision-making about seafood very complicated and you must seek out the best information and make your own choices. Here is a good news article from the medical community from WebMD Health News and a website from the American Heart Association that gives some additional information that you might find useful.

What do you think?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Can small-scale steelhead trout aquaculture operations help local fishermen?

Newcastle, NH – Commercial fishermen came together to discuss an opportunity to raise steelhead trout as an extension to the research UNH Scientists Dr. Hunt Howell and Michael Chambers have been conducting for the past several years.  
Gita George, Captain of the Muriel B, holds a steelhead trout grown in a pen off the UNH pier in Newcastle, NH

Given the current regulatory climate of the fishing industry and the pressures of an economy in a severe recession, steelhead trout may be an opportunity for fishermen to supplement their income while continuing to fish.  

The steelhead trout is closely related to the salmon and essentially a saltwater variant of the rainbow trout. They are native to the Pacific Northwest but have been domesticated for more than 150 years. Presently, there are extensive commercial aquaculture industries in Canada and Northern Europe.  

The steelhead has done remarkably well off the UNH research pier in Newcastle, N.H. In fact, the fish grow very fast and reached an average size of 6lbs after 6 months. Howell believes the opportunity for N.H. fishermen will be a small-scale, inshore-farm approach, which could produce 8,500 pounds annually in a small 25’ x 25’ x 12’ cage on a single point mooring.  

Test market sales this year averaged $4 to $5 per pound retail. Seacoast restaurants and fresh markets were given fish as part of the test marketing. Comments were all positive and the opportunity for a locally produced product was important to their businesses and clientele. Fish are sourced as eggs from Washington and fry (6"-8” or about ½ lb) are raised in a local hatchery and stocked directly into seawater. In April, cages would be stocked at 2,400 fry per cage.    When all is said and done you would expect approximately 2,000 market animals (assuming about 15% mortality) to remain, each weighing about 5lbs in November.

Only females are raised; since this species does not occur naturally in this area  this avoids any chance of escapees reproducing.  Howell adds that the environmental impacts of a small-scale steelhead aquaculture operation would be "miniscule."

Howell is quick to point out that permitting for commercial operations is still an issue but not impossible given that the environmental impacts of small-scale operations are expected to be very small. The process would include a public-hearing process and approval by several agencies.  (NHDES, NH Fish and Game, NH Port Authority and USCG).

Friday, December 3, 2010

Dine on a winter delicacy: winter shrimp season is approaching

Starting soon and lasting all winter, Seacoast residents can enjoy an abundance of fresh northern shrimp, a sustainable local resource, and help support the N.H. commercial fishing industry.

Northern shrimp caught in the Gulf of Maine provide fishermen with an alternative to groundfish during the winter months when offshore fishing is more dangerous. Northern shrimp move in close to shore during cold weather, allowing fishermen to stay in safer waters, conserve fuel and save their days-at-sea for groundfishing in better weather conditions.

A growing interest in fresh, local seafood has brought about community supported fishery (CSF) initiatives to the Seacoast and the N.H. Fresh and Local seafood brand. Modeled after community supported agriculture, a CSF is a shore-side community of people collaborating with local fishermen to buy fish or seafood directly for a predetermined length of time. CSF shareholders give the fishermen financial support and then receive a weekly share of seafood caught during the season.

Individuals can join an eight-week shrimp CSF through the Yankee Fisherman's Cooperative. Shareholders will receive five or 10 pounds of fresh shrimp per week (Jan. 9 - Feb. 27) and may choose from several pick-up locations. For more information and to sign up, please visit www.yankeefish.com/shrimp-csf.

In addition, local fresh fish markets and winter farmer's markets near the Seacoast will offer Gulf of Maine shrimp. Organizations such as Seacoast Eat Local offer information about eating locally grown and harvested food at www.seacoasteatlocal.org. To ensure that the shrimp is part of the N.H. Fresh and Local brand, please visit www.nhseafood.com for a list of participating businesses.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

UNH Experts Visit Nova Scotia Aquaculture Operations

Tanks used to raise Halibut at Scotian Halibut Limited
Professor Hunt Howell, Jonathon Bunker, and I recently traveled to Nova Scotia, Canada, to visit several commercial aquaculture businesses. Our first stop was at Scotian Halibut Limited where Atlantic Halibut are produced from captive brood stock located at their Wood Harbor facility. 

After spawning, the eggs are hatched and grown in a large, 5-ton silo tank for several months. Next step is the nursery where they slowly grow to about 30g in one year. Juvenile halibut are then sold to land-based grow-out facilities throughout Canada and the United States. 

A portion of the juveniles are sent to Scotian’s grow-out farm in Clarks Harbor. Here they are raised to 5kg or larger and sold to restaurants or used as future brood stock. According to Brian Blanchard, General Manager of Scotian Halibut, Scotian has begun a a new study in which water from the grow-out system circulates through heavily aerated tanks of red macro algae. 

The nutrient-rich water, intense lighting, and movement of the algae in the water column allow it to double in size in 3-4 months. The algae acts as nutrient scrubber, absorbing effluents from fish waste before recirculating back through the grow-out system.

The second company visited was Cold Water Fisheries, one of largest producers of Rainbow and Steelhead trout in North America. We toured two of their sea-based farms, one in Liverpool and the other near Pubnico. Each site has approximately 20 floating cages stocked with 30,000 Steelhead trout. Operational Manager Sherman D’Entremont said they use several hatcheries in Nova Scotia and PEI to hatch and raise the trout to 100g before transferring them to the sea cages. The trout are typically grown to 2-3kg and sold mostly to markets in Canada. They are currently producing more than 3500 tons of trout per year
Floating cages in Nova Scotia where steelhead trout are raised.

Visiting fish farms provides important learning experiences for scientists. It allows us to meet the farming community and learn about their hardships and accomplishments. With this knowledge, we can better prepare research proposals that will help build a strong aquaculture industry.

-Mike Chambers, UNH Cooperative Extension

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fisheries Research to Plate

The Fisheries Research to Plate event introduced the public to research and recipes that involve local, sustainably harvested  fish species. The two species in the spotlight: redfish and steelhead trout. Approximately 50 people attended the event on Nov. 9th at UNH's Cole Hall.

Adam Baukus, a research technician for the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, discussed the practicality and economic viability of developing a redfish jig fishery in the Northeast. Redfish are currently marketed for lobster bait, but they provide a light, delicate fillet that is tasty for humans as well. Based on the 2007 groundfish stock survey, redfish is not likely overfished at the moment, Baukus said.

Their slow growth requires careful harvesting to prevent overfishing. Despite the current low price fishermen receive for redfish, there is definite potential for market growth and the development of a jig fishery, he added.

And the taste? Delicious!

Students in the Thompson School’s culinary arts program, under the direction of Chef Charlie Caramihalis, prepared two dishes with redfish: seafood en papillote and fish tacos with chili-lime aioli.

N.H. Sea Grant aquaculture specialist Mike Chambers talked about the steelhead trout currently grown in the Open Ocean Aquaculture net located near the Isles of Shoals. Their meat is almost indistinguishable from salmon.

Unlike cod or haddock that require a year or more to mature in the nets, steelhead trout reach an average weight of 6.6 lbs. within six months of stocking the young, Chambers said.

Attendees sampled grilled steelhead trout with maple cream and toasted pecans. Recipes for all the prepared dishes were provided and Chef Charlie also demonstrated how to properly fillet a fish.

Erik Anderson, president of the New Hampshire Commercial Fishermen’s Association, discussed the new fisheries-management laws that are affecting commercial fishermen in the state. With the loss of 70 percent of the N.H. fishing fleet over the last 15 years, Anderson said it is imperative to find a way to preserve fishing jobs while also preserving fish stocks at sustainable levels.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Planning a Sustainable Fishery: The Redfish Symposium

Danvers, MA

Chris Glass of the Northeast Consortium welcomes Redfish Symposium participants

More than 50 fishermen, fish dealers, fisheries managers, scientists, international experts,  economists and social scientists gathered to discuss the risks, opportunities and challenges of developing a redfish fishery in the Gulf of Maine.  Redfish is a general term for fish, but in the Gulf of Maine, redfish means the Acadian Redfish, which is found in deep waters and can live nearly 60 years.
              Redfish were a commercially important fish in the 1940's and '50s when redfish were frozen and sold as 'Ocean Perch' in the midwestern U.S.  Interestingly, another important buyer during this era was the U.S. Government which bought redfish and used it, in part, to feed the military.  However, stocks declined and the fishery faded into the background.  Today, the redfish stocks have recovered and are now considered by scientists to have the potential for resumed fishing.  Few fishermen today target redfish, but those that do are able to catch this unique species without negatively impacting habitat or other fish stocks.  Regulators and scientists caution that because the species is long-lived and relatively slow to grow and mature, it's ability to recover from overfishing may be limited.   Acadian redfish stocks crashed as a result of heavy fishing pressure in the past and similar species have suffered similar crashes in other regions.  However, at this point, fishing pressure is far from a level that scientists believe will negatively affect redfish stocks.
            The group quickly identified finding a market for Acadian redfish as the main stumbling-block to developing the fishery.  The market available to fishermen today for redfish is limited.  But how to do this?  Educating the public and local chefs, exploring local direct marketing and the possibility of providing a relatively cheap source of healthy fish to the general population were options that were discussed.  Additional ideas included exploring the European market for sustainable redfish and the possibility that the government might be able to once again buy domestically produced fish to feed the military and schools. 
A broad range of perspectives were present at the Redfish Symposium
          If a redfish fishery is to develop in the Gulf of Maine, it will be shaped by the range of perspectives present at this meeting.  The redfish fishery is a chance for all of the involved parties with sometimes very different ideas, perspectives and interests, to discuss and plan for a truly sustainable fishery that helps preserve a fishing way of life and fish stocks.  Stay tuned for a published summary of the meeting!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Maine Public Broadcasting Network does story on Redfish Symposium

Redfish will be the focus of this Thursday's Northeast Regional Redfish Symposium in Danvers, MA.
Maine Public Radio has picked up a story on the this Thursday's Redfish Symposium which does a nice job of outlining the issues at hand. Check it out!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Lobster TAA Sign-up Begins!

Linda Grames from the NH Farm Service Agency leads NH Lobstermen through the application process for the Lobster TAA Program
Sign-ups  began in late October for New Hampshire lobstermen eligible for benefits through the Federal Trade Adjustment Act (TAA). This program is for any fisherman (not just lobstermen!) who can demonstrate that they sold at least a pound of lobster in 2009 and in any year between 2006 and 2008.

Personnel from the USDA Farm Service Agency and N.H. Sea Grant met with lobstermen October 19 at the Urban Forestry Center in Portsmouth to answer questions and to help people sign up for the TAA program.  About 25 lobstermen participated in the meeting.

The New Hampshire Commercial Fishermen's Association and N.H. Sea Grant (along with representatives from Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island) petitioned for lobster to be eligible for the program based on a 20% decrease in the value of lobster in 2009 compared to the average value between 2006 and 2008.  The program provides training and cash benefits to eligible fishermen who have until December 23, 2010 to sign up (Contact FSA at 603.679.4656 to sign up).

More sign-up workshops have been scheduled (see the Lobster TAA page for details!).

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


FV Ellen Diane operated by David Goethel out of Hampton, NH

Welcome to our blog focusing on issues and events related to New Hampshire and Northeast Sustainable Marine Fisheries! This site is managed by Ken La Valley and Erik Chapman of NH Sea Grant and UNH Cooperative Extension and will be updated as we come across interesting events, ideas or issues in our work. Please comment if you have ideas for content that you would like to see!