Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Sea Port’s advice to the FDA for modernizing its outdated Seafood Consumption Guidelines

Sea Port’s Input:  The FDA should purpose the modernization of their outdated 2004 seafood consumption guidelines to overwhelmingly promote the “Key” positive message for increasing seafood consumption in America and to finally eliminate the unrealistic concerns of methylmercury poisoning risks that have unfortunately stolen the spotlight away from the good news of seafood’s many health benefits.  The FDA cannot continue to allow the very slight chances of consuming harmful levels of methylmercury from wild caught seafood to keep on killing the “Key” message that pregnant women or those who may become pregnant and all Americans need to dramatically increase their seafood consumption levels. 

In its revision, Sea Port advises that the FDA eliminate the methylmercury fear by stressing the ridiculously low chances of being poisoned when consuming wild caught and farmed seafood in America.  This is appropriate to do so now and will be even more relevant in future years when an ever-increasing percentage of our seafood will come from farms (not wild fisheries) that will be essentially methylmercury free.

Sea Port believes that the following points strongly support the FDA acting on this revision advice:

·         The science in the FDA’s own recently released Net Effects Study on Fish Consumption supports taking this positive non-fearful perspective as exemplified by the finding that the 4 commercial wild caught fish species that contain high levels of methylmercury (shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish) are outliers and contribute the equivalent weight of about 4 grains of rice to America’s per capita seafood consumption!  This is a ridiculously low amount, yet it is unfortunately given a disproportional level of risk credence in regards to methylmercury poisoning exposure and hence creates a persistent and dominating unreasonable public fear about eating all seafood categories regardless if they are wild or farmed.
·         75% of our seafood consumption now comes from just 10 seafood species/families that taken as a whole represent a negligible methylmercury poisoning risk to the American public.  Nearly 60% of our per capita intake of seafood is now produced by aquaculture in which methylmercury accumulation in the farmed output is negligible or non-existent.
·         In other countries that consume more than ten times as much seafood as we do, such as Japan (160 lbs.) and Iceland (198 lbs.), their citizens are not suffering from methylmercury poisoning problems.
·        Seafood is at least 7 times less likely to cause illnesses of any kind compared to America’s most popular land based animal meat proteins.  This certainly helps support the overall “key” message for increasing  seafood consumption without unreasonable fear.

In summary: The bullet points listed above indicate that the FDA may be inadvertently discouraging Americans to consume more seafood by currently overweighting the risks of methylmercury poisoning and letting it become the controlling fear factor that kills the good news about seafood consumption.  Now is the appropriate time for the FDA to modernize its seafood consumption guidelines and to once and for all eliminate this methylmercury fear. This is especially relevant going forward as we enter a new dynamic era of seafood production in which farm raised seafood that has negligible methylmercury concerns continues to increase its dominance in the American seafood diet.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Sea Port helps sponsor Ocean Trust’s Science and Sustainability Forum

At the end of October Sea Port attended Ocean Trust’s Science and Sustainability forum in New Orleans that brought together top fishery scientists from around the world to discuss the state of the world’s fisheries in terms of sustainability and the practicality and fairness of eco-certification schemes. 

The annual Science & Sustainability Forum was created four years ago by Ocean Trust and it has now established itself as an influential international gathering of professional fishery scientists for promoting sustainable fishery practices that are based on the best available science and common sense.

The consensus at the forum was that the world’s major commercial fisheries are now managed for sustainability.  However, concern was raised about the fairness of requiring eco-certifications for the smaller scale coastal fisheries that primarily exist in developing countries. 

What we have seen is that many of these [ecolabelling] schemes are eliminating access of small scale fisheries particularly in developing states to international markets,” said Fabio Hazin, Chair of the UN Food & Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Committee on Fisheries. “This is a very worrying trend and we have to come up with a solution for that.”

During the conference Sea Port offered these inputs:

·         Sea Port stated that the altruistic end-goal of NGOs that charge money for certifying fisheries as sustainable should be the termination of their fees once governments establish credible systems to responsibly manage their own fishery resources.   Sea Port further opined that it should be the ultimate responsibility of governments (not NGOs) to guarantee the sustainability of their seafood to the buying public.

·         China should be represented at these meetings in the future because they produce over 40% of the world’s seafood (wild caught and aquaculture combined).  It is incumbent that China becomes a more active global participant in improving the sustainable production of seafood for an ever-expanding world population.

Sea Port is committed to helping sponsor next year’s forum and to once again have the opportunity to learn from this influential gathering of world-renowned fishery scientists.   

Sincerely, David Glaubke
Director of Sustainability Initiatives
Sea Port Products Corp.

Friday, October 24, 2014

More News and Impressions from Sea Port's GOAL 2014 attendance in Vietnam 
During October National Seafood Month Sea Port attended the Global Aquaculture Alliance’s GOAL  2014 conference (Global Outlook on Aquaculture Leadership) held in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. While in the country, we ventured to the Mekong Delta to visit several producers of seafood.  We returned home with great enthusiasm for seafood, as well as a deep appreciation for all the Vietnamese people who contribute so much to our aquaculture industry.
Listed below are a few highlights and observations from both the GOAL conference and our seafood travels throughout the Vietnamese countryside:
  • The EMS disease crisis, while creating a great set-back in the production of shrimp, has now created a positive wave of new aquaculture technologies and practices while also motivating shrimp farmers to adhere more strictly to current best aquaculture practices.  Many industry leaders, including the Global Aquaculture Alliance have worked together to find the cause and ways to mitigate this disease.   Exciting progress in terms of EMS:
    • One exciting announcement was the possible discovery of an EMS resistant strain of white shrimp! 
    • GAA Announced  the development of a Zone Management Standard.  This standard will assist small farmers to “cluster” with other farms in close proximity, essentially being its own co-op  and will provide veterinary services, best management practices, information sharing, etc.  This will be a huge help to farmers.
    • Tilapia has been a key player in reducing the risk of EMS – How?  Farmers in Vietnam have found that the use of the polyculture farming technique has helped reduce the outbreak of EMS in their farm.  Farmers are growing shrimp with Tilapia.  (And subsequently are now producing that Tilapia).
  • The upward trajectory of worldwide farmed shrimp output has returned and the speculation at the GOAL conference was that we may see a doubling of production in ten years!
  • Other conference buzz included the need for all seafood stakeholders to work harmoniously to help reduce and simplify seafood certification schemes;  producers expressed frustration of how much time and money is spent on implementing different  sustainability requirements from various customers.  Producers requested buyers to harmonize their requirements to make their efforts much more efficient.
  • Sea Port experienced firsthand how disappointed Vietnamese shrimp farmers were that the US Department of Commerce imposed the highest import duties ever on their production.  Just as EMS is being successfully mitigated and credit is finally becoming more available to finance pond stockings, these duties were seen as ill-timed, wholly unnecessary, and running counter to the spirit of last year’s U.S.-Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership agreement
  • Sea Port’s overall impression of Vietnam and its people was overwhelmingly positive.  All the Vietnamese stakeholders along the seafood supply chain were extremely hard working, highly skilled, and motivated to advance economically.  We believe that the production of sustainably produced seafood for international trade creates tremendous opportunity for many Viatnamese people. 

Trading seafood with this rapidly developing nation will strengthen ties and help heal old wounds of war.  The Vietnamese people are industriously pursuing a seafood future that will not only positively transform their economic state of wellbeing but also greatly serve a world hungering for more healthy and sustainable seafood.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

World Farmed Shrimp Production to Double in Ten Years!

Sea Port heard this prediction from George Chamberlain, the president of the Global Aquaculture Alliance, while attending the organization’s GOAL (Global Outlook on Aquaculture Leadership) conference this month (October National Seafood Month).

Mr. Chamberlain proffered this positive prediction while being fully aware of the major shrimp production shortfalls that diseases have caused during the last two years (especially EMS).

However, the foundation of his prediction was that the aquaculture industry will steadily improve
its knowledge of disease processes and will continually implement new practices that will not only help prevent and treat diseases, but also more effectively control their spread.

Back in March of 2013 Sea Port Blogged about  EMS?…..this too shall pass and at that time we took a similar upbeat view that EMS and other disease occurrences were normal growing pains of young industry that is currently the world’s fastest growing food production system!

Since Sea Port’s EMS blog over a year and a half ago, shrimp farmers have demonstrated progress in avoiding and mitigating EMS and other diseases.  They accomplished this by diligently adhering to established best aquaculture practices and by implementing newly developed husbandry technologies and practices such as:
  • utilizing genetically improve stocks that resist disease
  • Improving breeding techniques to assure disease free seedstocks
  • Starting the early identification of diseased stocks and implementing isolation schemes that address direct and indirect exposure to healthy stocks
  • Developing and utilizing enhanced feeds that promote disease resistance
  • Implementing various water quality improvement schemes

     World Farmed Shrimp Production to Double in Ten Years?
                                   (Sea Port is definitely not betting against George)

Happy October National Seafood Month!
Sincerely, Dave Glaubke
Director of Sustainability Initiatives – Sea Port Products Corp. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Obama designates huge expansion of the existing Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument creating the world’s largest area protected from commercial fishing!
On Thursday September 25th, President Obama expanded the size of America’s largest marine reserve.  In doing so, he created the world’s largest marine area that is protected from commercial fishing activities.  This area, called the Pacific Remote Islands National Monument, was established in 2009 by President Bush.  It is located in the central Pacific and now encompasses over 490,000 square miles (about the size of three Californias).

          Sea Port’s questions and thoughts about this historic event: 

·         Coincidentally, on the same day the International Seafood Sustainability foundation (ISSF) stated that Pacific Bigeye Tuna are overfished.  Will Obama’s new marine reserve expansion actually help the Bigeye Tuna stocks in the central Pacific recover to a non-overfished status?

·         The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council opposed the expansion of the monument area stating that economic hardships would befall the central Pacific tuna/pelagic fishers.  Will this expansion actually increase catches and economic prosperity in the long run for these fishers as highly migratory species perhaps recover in the protected areas and then move outside of the safe havens?

·         Will this presidential action encourage other nations to expand or create additional marine protected areas?  Please see our past Go Blue! Seafood Sustainability Blog for Sea Port’s views on expanding MPAs.

President Obama’s historic expansion of the Pacific Remote Island’s National Monument may cause a type of “Butterfly Effect” that produces a cascading of positive events that will help propel us all closer to sustainably managing the world’s precious marine resources for the benefit of current and future generations.

Go Blue! and eat more seafood………………Sincerely, David Glaubke – Sea Port’s Directory of Sustainability Initiatives