Archive for the ‘New England Fisheries’ Category
Posted in Environment, Fishing, New England Fisheries, Ocean Health, Photographs, Photography, Technology, tagged boat, ferry, fisheries, fishing, idillic, light on water, martha's vineyard, massachusetts, ocean, scallop, sea, sunset on July 9, 2012 | 2 Comments »
Posted in Bycatch, Environment, Fishing, New England Fisheries, Ocean Health, Politics, tagged blog, CLF, Conservation Law Foundation, New England Fisheries, Talking Fish on June 11, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
Posted in Environment, Fishing, Lakes, New England Fisheries, Ocean Health, Photographs, tagged Alewife, alewives, anadromous, coastal, dams, ecosystem, fish, river herring, spawn, spawning, striped bass on March 27, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
The Alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) or River Herring, is one of the most important anadromous fish in the coastal ecosystem. An anadromous fish is a fish that spends most of its life out in the ocean, but swims into freshwater bodies to spawn. These fish school by the thousands in mid-spring, coming from all directions searching for their spawning grounds. They make their way up turbulent, swelling spring rivers in search of calmer lakes and ponds to drop their eggs. This mass migration of fish into coastal fresh water bodies brings a huge nutrient influx to the local ecosytem. This food source is important for birds like eagles, osprey, herons, and gulls. Many mammals also take advantage of this influx, as these fish are easy pickings when they come to a bottleneck in a river or stream. Striped bass will also follow these fish up river and prey upon them as well.
This adapted anadromous behavior has been beneficial to the species for millenia, but it ran into problems when people began constructing mill dams along rivers throughout northeast coastline. Dams constructed along rivers to power sawmills had the unintended consequence of blocking millions of alewives access to their spawning grounds. Alewife populations quickly plumetted. Over the past 100 years, these mill dams have become obsolete, and many of them have been descontructed, restoring alewives access to spawning areas. These fish have very high fecundity, one female capable of laying 70,000 eggs in a season, and thus are quick to recover when given the opportunity. To learn more about the push for alewife restoration, counting efforts, and dam removal, visit the Herring Alliance.
Posted in Environment, Fishing, New England Fisheries, Ocean Health, Photographs, tagged Blue Crab, bycatch, Chesapeake bay, fisheries, Maryland, old bay, recipe, seafood, Shellfish, summer, sustainability on March 26, 2012 | 1 Comment »
The Blue Crab is an icon of the Chesapeake Bay. It might get you thinking of fingers red with Old Bay seasoning, summer picnic tables covered in newspaper, bowls of melted butter and a good beer. Well, roll up your sleeves; brush the dust off your claw crackers and meat picks, because blue crab season is right around the corner. You can feel good about eating blue crab too. It’s currently not being overfished, and the stock is stable. This is important, considering it’s one of the most popular shellfish in the mid-atlantic. The biggest threat to a sustainable blue crab population is nutrient loading in spawning grounds. There has been an active push to clean up the Chesapeake for many years now, and lots of progress has been made. Bycatch in the blue crab fishery isn’t much of a concern either, as the way the crabs are caught allows fishermen to be very selective, usually pulling up only blue crab in their traps.
The best way I’ve found to prepare blue crab is to steam them in a broth of Old Bay, beer, salt, and vinegar. Take a trip to your local seafood market and pick out a good slew of live blues.
Mix a 1/2 cup of Old Bay, 3 dark and flavorful beers, 2 cups distilled vinegar, and a 1/2 cup salt in a large pot and bring to a boil. Lay a steaming rack over just over the boiling mixture, and layer the crabs until the pot is full. I like to sprinkle each layer of crabs with a good dose of Old Bay. Steam for about 25 minutes until the crabs turn bright orange/red. Prep a table for getting messy by laying down some newspaper and ready a large bowl for shell discards. I like to mix melted butter, soy sauce and a little lemon in a bowl for dipping. Crack open a beer and dig in!
Bay Scallop, Cape Cod
Posted in Environment, Fishing, New England Fisheries, Ocean Health, tagged atlantic mackerel, fisheries, fresh fish, local fishing spots, mackerel, maine, massachusetts, national marine fisheries service, New England, new hampshire, rhode island, scomber scombrus, stripers, sustainable, sustainable choice on February 13, 2012 | 4 Comments »
The Atlantic Mackerel is a small, tuna-like fish with iridescent blue sides and a silvery belly. These little fish will rapidly grow up to 16 inches, and can live for 20 years. Found in the Atlantic off the coasts of Labrador all the way down to North Carolina, the Atlantic Mackerel is currently 257% above its target biomass level (NMFS.NOAA), making it a great sustainable choice. Although it’s a common fish, you won’t always find it in the seafood section at your grocery store. It’s a fish best eaten fresh, and doesn’t handle freezing very well. For this reason, you’ll either see it for sale canned or sold super fresh. The best way to get your hands on this fish however, is to catch it yourself.
It’s amazing to watch these little torpedos of muscle chase around a shimmering school of baitfish. If you ever plant your boat in the middle of one of these schools, all you have to do is drop your lure over the side, and next thing you know, an energetic mackerel is yanking away on your monofilament. On the right day, you can easily pull up enough mackerel to bring home and eat for dinner. These fish school close to shore, so don’t worry if you don’t have a boat. Just find the nearest jetty when the mackerel are running, and you’ll probably have some luck. If you live near the ocean, and see lots of people casting off a dock on an incoming tide, odds are they’re all looking to hook a mackerel. They make excellent striper bait too. Mackerel run at slightly different times every year, and the timing depends on your location, temperature, ‘out to sea’ factors, and the location of the mackerel’s food. In Maine, look for them in early-mid summer. Just ask around anywhere along the waterfront, and you’ll quickly learn the local fishing spots, and when the mackerel tend to run in that area. Take a look at the National Marine Fisheries Service page on the mackerel here.
Any somewhat savvy seafood shopper will know that much of the fish they buy is in danger of being overfished. Generally, the larger the fish, the higher risk that it is being fished unsustainably, and even being fished into commercial extinction. Species like Bluefin Tuna, Atlantic Cod, Monkfish, Salmon, Swordfish, and any type of shark are some of the worst offending fisheries when it comes to sustainability. Sustainability can mean two things in this case. The most obvious being, is the species population large enough to weather the imposed fishing pressure? Another measure of sustainability lies in how the fish is caught. Bycatch is the keyword here. Many deep water fisheries use trawlers to pull up massive amounts of fish from the depths. The trawling method is often indiscriminate and will yield only a small percentage of the target species, leaving many other species stuck in the net, discarded and dead. You can read up on this issue at MCBI’s website.
If you live in Boston, you have a chance to pick up some sustainable seafood at the weekly Haymarket off the orange line right on the fringe of the North End. In addition to ridiculously cheap produce sold in an outdoor setting, you can buy fish, some of which is direct from the sea. This isn’t to say all the fish at Haymarket is fresh, or sustainable, but if you know what to look for, you can usually walk away with a good piece of fish that you can feel okay about eating. Take a look at EDF’s Ecoguide for purchasing sustainable seafood before taking a trip to Haymarket. The EDF guide is simplistic and good as a quick reference. To find out more about your sustainable seafood choices, NOAA has a more extensive review of each fishery. Here’s the guide for Spanish Mackerel (a regular feature at Haymarket). The Spanish Mackerel is an excellent sustainable choice, and tastes excellent when fresh. At $3 a pound, you can’t go wrong. Bake it drizzled with olive oil, lemon juice and fresh garlic (all available at Haymarket btw).
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