We’re Pulling Tuna Out Of The Ocean At Unprecedented — And Unsustainable — Rates

Clare Leschin-Hoar wrote . . . . . . . . .

If you’re in the mood for a tuna poke bowl or an old-school tuna niçoise salad, here’s a tip: Don’t hit up the Greenhouse Tavern in Cleveland. It has been nearly six years since chef Jonathon Sawyer became a “tuna evangelist” after attending a meeting of like-minded chefs at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It was there that he made the decision to forgo tuna — both in his personal life and on the menus at all four of his restaurants.

It wasn’t always easy. Turning down the chance to eat famed chef Eric Ripert’s mouthwatering thin-sliced tuna over a foie gras torchon took some Superman-like strength, but for Sawyer, the mission is an important one. He’s not trying to get people to give up tuna altogether. Rather, he’s trying to raise awareness of the sheer quantities that are coming across our collective plates and serve as a gentle warning that all that fish is coming from a limited resource.

It turns out that his effort is hitting a seafood sustainability bull’s-eye.

A new study, published in Fisheries Research, reveals that the sheer amount of tuna being taken from our seas, including some species considered “vulnerable,” has increased by an astonishing 1,000% in the last 60 years — a rate that some scientists are saying is unsustainable.

The study, which looked only at larger industrial catches, says we’re pulling nearly 6 million metric tons of tuna from the oceans each year. (The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization’s data — which include artisanal fisheries as well as industrial catches — estimate that the overall annual harvest is closer to 7.4 million metric tons of tuna.)

Of that, skipjack (which typically ends up as canned tuna) now accounts for nearly half of the world’s entire tuna catch, followed by yellowfin tuna, which comes in at just under a quarter of the global tuna haul. The study’s findings suggest that current public reporting efforts to accurately document the extent of the world’s tuna catch have been insufficient and could be affecting fisheries management decision-making.

“The big surprise for me was how much [southern] bluefin tuna had declined,” says lead author Angie Coulter, who conducted the research while working with the Sea Around Us initiative at the University of British Columbia’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries. The historical decrease in southern bluefin tuna populations is eye-popping. In the 1960s, southern bluefin tuna from the Indian Ocean accounted for 36% of tuna catches there. Today, it has fallen to less than 1% of the catch.

The study shows that not only are we taking more tuna from the oceans than ever before, but we’re also harvesting them farther from shore. Industrial tuna fishing now covers somewhere between 55% and 90% of the global oceans, fueled in part by extensive government subsidies.

“Everywhere tuna swim, they’re being pursued by industrial fisheries,” says Shana Miller, who directs the Global Tuna Conservation Project at the Ocean Foundation and was not involved in the new study. “That’s a major take from this paper.”

Indeed, according to the study, no new fishing grounds remain to be explored, and precisely where tuna is being harvested has also shifted in dramatic ways. In the 1950s, tuna fishing was concentrated off the coasts of North and Central America in the eastern Pacific Ocean and around western Pacific islands. Little industrial tuna fishing was taking place in the Atlantic or Indian oceans. Today it is “ubiquitous across all tropical and subtropical regions of the world,” though most — nearly 70% of the world’s tuna catches — are taken from the Pacific Ocean.

Miller says shining a spotlight on just how big that shift has been may end up putting added pressure on the regional fisheries management organizations responsible for managing tuna stocks and could ultimately help in ensuring the future sustainability of those tuna fisheries.

“Also, that skipjack tunas dominate the catch at 50% of tunas [and all other fish looked at in the study] is shocking,” Miller says. “They’re healthy in all oceans for now, but their increasing catches are concerning for the future.”

The report also draws attention to the amount of bycatch taken in the pursuit of tuna. The study estimates that just under 6 million metric tons of shark were discarded as bycatch between 1950 and 2016 in the Pacific Ocean alone. Much of that was made up of blue sharks, which take many years to mature and produce few offspring.

“There’s been an incredible push to end dolphin bycatch in tuna fisheries because they’re cute,” says Coulter. “But sharks are apex predators. They hold all these food chains together. If we’re removing these sharks [from the ecosystem], they really can’t catch up and will decline more and more.”

So what does all this mean for tuna fans? If chef Sawyer has his way, more of us would be open to spreading our seafood choices across a wider variety of tasty species to help ease some of the pressure on tuna. Coulter says even being more aware of exactly where our tuna is coming from is a good first step.

“Do the best you can. No one single person is going to solve any of these things, but being vocal and pushing governments to release more data is a start. More data is better. We can make better decisions if we have the data to work with,” she says. “And if you want to make a change, find an NGO that’s doing great work that you align with and contribute.”

Source: npr

Baked Cod on a Polenta-pepper Bed


1-1/2 cups cooked chopped spinach or thawed and drained frozen spinach
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 cod fillets, 4 oz each
12 lemon wedges


4 cups water
1 cup cornmeal (maize flour)
1/2 cup chopped roasted red bell peppers
1-1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or flat-leaf (Italian) parsley


  1. Preheat an oven to 400°F (200°C). Coat a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. To make the polenta, in a large, heavy saucepan, whisk together the water and 1/4 cup of the cornmeal. Bring to a boil. In a slow, steady stream, gradually whisk in the remaining cornmeal. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens to the consistency of hot cereal, about 10 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the red peppers and thyme or parsley. Spread in the prepared baking dish.
  4. In a small bowl, toss together the spinach, lemon juice, and olive oil. Scatter the spinach over the polenta.
  5. Place the fish fillets in a single layer on top of the spinach, pressing them into the polenta slightly.
  6. Bake until the fish is opaque throughout, about 15 minutes.
  7. To serve, divide among individual plates. Pass the lemon wedges at the table.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: Mayo Clinic

In Pictures: Home-cooked Dishes of Fall Seasonal Fishes

Your Washer Might Be Breeding Drug-Resistant Germs

Your energy-efficient washing machine could be harboring “superbug” antibiotic-resistant bacteria, a new study warns.

The warning follows an investigation at a German hospital where drug-resistant Klebsiella oxytoca was repeatedly infecting newborns. Investigators traced the outbreak to a washing machine, and the infections stopped only after it was taken away.

“This is a highly unusual case for a hospital, in that it involved a household-type washing machine,” said study first author Dr. Ricarda Schmithausen, a senior physician at the Institute for Hygiene and Public Health at the University of Bonn.

Hospitals usually use special washing machines with high temperatures and added disinfectants. Home washing machines clean at lower temperatures that save energy but may not kill drug-resistant germs, researchers warn.

They said the K. oxytoca that sickened the newborns was transmitted from the washer to knitted caps and socks used to keep babies warm.

It’s unclear how the drug-resistant germs got into the washing machine, but researchers suspect they probably lived in water that didn’t drain completely after a washing.

They said washing machines should to be redesigned to prevent residual water from accumulating where germs can grow and contaminate clothes.

The report was recently published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

What should consumers do to avoid this type of outbreak? The study’s co-author had advice for households with patients.

“If elderly people requiring nursing care with open wounds or bladder catheters, or younger people with suppurating [pus-filled] injuries or infections live in the household, laundry should be washed at higher temperatures, or with efficient disinfectants, to avoid transmission of dangerous pathogens,” said Dr. Martin Exner, from the University of Bonn.

“This is a growing challenge for hygienists, as the number of people receiving nursing care from family members is constantly increasing,” Exner said in a journal news release.

Source: HealthDay

Drinking More Sugary Beverages of Any Type May Increase Type 2 Diabetes Risk

People who increase their consumption of sugary beverages—whether they contain added or naturally occurring sugar—may face moderately higher risk of type 2 diabetes, according to a new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Drinking more sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), like soft drinks, as well as 100% fruit juices, was associated with higher type 2 diabetes risk.

The study also found that drinking more artificially sweetened beverages (ASBs) in place of sugary beverages did not appear to lessen diabetes risk. However, diabetes risk decreased when one daily serving of any type of sugary beverage was replaced with water, coffee, or tea. It is the first study to look at whether long-term changes in SSB and ASB consumption are linked with type 2 diabetes risk.

The study was published online October 3, 2019 in the journal Diabetes Care.

“The study provides further evidence demonstrating the health benefits associated with decreasing sugary beverage consumption and replacing these drinks with healthier alternatives like water, coffee, or tea,” said lead author Jean-Philippe Drouin-Chartier, postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Nutrition.

The study looked at 22–26 years’ worth of data from more than 192,000 men and women participating in three long-term studies—the Nurses’ Health Study, the Nurses’ Health Study II, and the Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study. Researchers calculated changes in participants’ sugary beverage consumption over time from their responses to food frequency questionnaires administered every four years.

After adjusting for variables such as body mass index, other dietary changes, and lifestyle habits, the researchers found that increasing total sugary beverage intake—including both SSBs and 100% fruit juice—by more than 4 ounces per day over a four-year period was associated with 16% higher diabetes risk in the following four years. Increasing consumption of ASBs by more than 4 ounces per day over four years was linked with 18% higher diabetes risk, but the authors said the findings regarding ASBs should be interpreted with caution due to the possibility of reverse causation (individuals already at high risk for diabetes may switch from sugary beverages to diet drinks) and surveillance bias (high-risk individuals are more likely to be screened for diabetes and thus diagnosed more rapidly).

The study also found that replacing one daily serving of a sugary beverage with water, coffee, or tea—but not with an ASB—was linked with a 2–10% lower risk of diabetes.

“The study results are in line with current recommendations to replace sugary beverages with noncaloric beverages free of artificial sweeteners. Although fruit juices contain some nutrients, their consumption should be moderated,” said Frank Hu, Fredrick J. Stare professor of nutrition and epidemiology and senior author of the study.

Source: Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

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