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Shrimp shells useful for uranium extraction

UNITED STATES
Friday, August 01, 2014

The US Department of Energy selected a University of Alabama start-up company for an approximate USD 1.5 million award to refine an alternative material to potentially extract uranium from the ocean.

Uranium, which naturally occurs in seawater and in the Earth’s crust, is the fuel for nuclear power. For decades, scientists have sought a more economical and efficient way to remove it from the ocean, as the terrestrial supply is dwindling and environmentally unfriendly to mine.

“Every scientist in the world, except us, who is trying to do this is working with plastics,” said Dr. Gabriela Gurau, a chemist and CEO of the UA-based company, 525 Solutions.

Instead, the UA company is developing an adsorbent, biodegradable material made from the compound chitin, which is found in shrimp shells and in other crustaceans and insects. The researchers have developed transparent sheets, or mats, comprised of tiny chitin fibers, modified for the task. When suspended beneath the ocean’s surface, the mats are designed to withdraw uranium.

“Once you put it in the ocean, it will attract uranium like a magnet, and uranium will stick to it,” said Gurau, a University of Alabama alumna.

If one day implemented, the mats, with uranium attached, would be taken to an industrial plant where the nuclear fuel source would be removed.

Earlier work led by Dr. Robin Rogers, Robert Ramsay Chair of Chemistry at UA and director of UA’s Center for Green Manufacturing, initially proved the concept for extracting uranium using chitin. Rogers is the owner/founder of 525 Solutions and serves as a scientific adviser to the company’s representatives.

“The oceans are estimated to contain more than a thousand times the amount of uranium found in total in any known land deposit,” Rogers said. “Fortunately, the concentration of uranium in the ocean is very, very low, but the volume of the oceans is, of course, very, very high. Assuming we could recover only half of this resource, this much uranium could support 6,500 years of nuclear capacity.”

Removing chitin, in a pure form, from shells had previously proven difficult, but Rogers and his UA colleagues discovered a way to use a relatively new class of solvents, called ionic liquids, for removal. Ionic liquids are liquid salts which have other unique and desirable properties that traditional solvents do not. Rogers is recognized as a world-leader in the field of ionic liquids.

Fibers begin forming near the ends of tiny nozzles in a UA laboratory set-up. The researchers are refining a new material to potentially extract uranium from the ocean for use in nuclear power.

UA researchers use a time-honored laboratory technique called electrospinning to produce the mats. In this process, the scientists use a specially-prepared, c


Louisiana shrimpers asked to report foreign tiger prawn

UNITED STATES
Friday, August 29, 2014

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) is aware of and constantly monitoring the presence of Asian tiger prawn, a non-native species, in Louisiana waters. This is why LDWF officials are asking local shrimp harvesters to report catches of tiger prawn to the Department.

While there is little known at this time about the impacts of tiger prawn on indigenous Louisiana shrimp, these reports are key in helping LDWF biologists monitor the distribution and relative abundance of these prawn specimens and in determining the possible presence of spawning populations.

Those wanting to report catches of Asian tiger prawn must detail the date, location and size of capture. Photographs are encouraged.

To aid shrimp dealers in documenting tiger prawn landings, the LDWF has added tiger prawn (species code 19) to the Commercial Trip Ticket reporting system.

Tiger prawn specimens are easily identifiable by their large size, dark body colour and white banding found along the head and between segments of the tail. Occasionally, red or yellow stripes are present as well. LDWF officials ask that harvesters retain the tiger prawn by freezing.

It is unknown when and how tiger prawn specimens were first introduced into the Gulf of Mexico. In 1988, a portion of a population of reared tiger prawn escaped from a facility on the east coast.  Approximately 1,000 adults were later recaptured as far south as Cape Canaveral, Florida. In September 2006, a single adult male was captured by a commercial shrimp fisherman in Mississippi Sound near Dauphin Island, Alabama, and reports from Alabama and Mississippi have been increasing ever since.

The LDWF first documented the occurrence of Asian tiger prawn in Louisiana in August 2007, when a single specimen was taken by a commercial shrimp fisherman in Vermilion Bay. Prior to the 2011 fall inshore shrimp season, reported captures in Louisiana waters numbered fewer than 25, with none taken any farther westward than Vermilion Bay. However, since 2011, commercial shrimpers have reported Asian tiger prawn catches in all of Louisiana’s major estuarine basins, including adjacent offshore waters.

Reports of tiger prawn have remained between 70 and 100 over the last three years. It is uncertain whether this is due to population stabilization or under reporting by the public.

The Asian tiger prawn is native to the Indo-Pacific rim and is both harvested in the wild and extensively farmed in a number of countries. It belongs to the same family (Penaeidae) as Louisiana's native brown shrimp, but one notable difference between them is size. Research suggests the tiger prawn may reach a maximum length of 14 inches and weigh as m


Losses from derelict traps can be prevented

UNITED STATES
Friday, August 29, 2014

Thousands of fishing traps are lost or abandoned each year in US waters and become what is known as derelict traps, which continue to catch fish, crabs, and other species such as turtles. These traps result in losses to habitat, fisheries, and the watermen who depend on the resources -- losses that are largely preventable, according to a newly published NOAA study.

The report, published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin, is the first of its kind to examine the derelict fish trap problem, and so-called “ghost fishing,” nationally, and recommends actions to better manage and prevent it.

“Before this report, the marine debris community lacked comparable data on derelict traps,” said Courtney Arthur, research specialist for NOAA’s Marine Debris Program and lead author of the study. “We had different pieces of information, but not a whole picture. This paper connects those pieces and identifies areas where we need to focus our efforts.”

The report looks at the results of seven NOAA-funded studies in different fisheries across the US, and compares the severity of the problem, and common management challenges across the regions. It also reports certain findings from the studies for the first time in peer-reviewed literature, such as estimates of derelict trap numbers and how long they remain in the environment.

“People may not realize that derelict traps can catch not just the target species of the fishery, but also other animals including threatened and endangered species where populations are already very low. Derelict traps can also harm sensitive habitats like coral reefs and salt marsh so they have a bigger impact than might be anticipated,” said Ariana Sutton-Grier, Ph.D., NOAA’s National Ocean Service ecosystem science adviser and co-author of the study.

Researchers concluded that derelict traps have a cumulative, measurable impact which should be considered in fishery management decisions. They identified several key gaps in research and suggested a management strategy that emphasizes a collaborative approach, including:
 

  •     Studying how derelict traps and ghost fishing affect fishery stocks and the fishing economy;
  •     Involving the fishing industry in collaborative projects to find solutions to ghost fishing;
  •     Examining the regional challenges to derelict traps to find effective policy solutions to manage, reduce, and prevent gear loss.


“By providing this comprehensive study, we allow resource managers to make more informed decisions that make sense for them and for the fishing industry,” said Holly Bamford, Ph.D.,


Wegmans features fresh Gulf seafood, launches own-brand shrimp

UNITED STATES
Thursday, August 28, 2014

Wegmans Food Markets Inc. is partnering with the Gulf Seafood Marketing Coalition to offer fresh seafood from the waters of the Gulf of Mexico in its stores for two weeks, through 6 September. Additionally, the supermaket chain will launch its new proprietary brand of wild-caught Gulf of Mexico peeled and deveined shrimp, to be sold year-round.

On Friday, the Rochester, NY-based grocery store chain will also feature Gulf coast seafood cooking demonstrations, freshly-prepared wild-caught Gulf shrimp dish samples and educational grilling techniques.

Each of the 84 Wegmans stores will showcase flavorful and easy-to-prepare Gulf seafood harvested from Gulf of Mexico waters, including wild-caught shrimp, snapper, grouper and blue crab.

“Wegmans is dedicated to providing the freshest ingredients to our customers, helping to make great meals easy and affordable. The savory Gulf of Mexico seafood flavors fit into this plan, and the Gulf Seafood Marketing Coalition is a great partner to us,” said Dave Wagner, Vice President of Seafood Merchandising. “We are confident that once customers taste our new Wegmans brand wild-caught Gulf of Mexico shrimp and learn easy preparation techniques, it will soon become a favorite.”

The Gulf Coast region produces 69 per cent of domestic shrimp and is a leading producer of domestic hard and soft-shell blue crabs. Both types of shellfish will accompany delectable snapper and grouper fish selections to showcase the variety of species and flavors available from the Gulf Coast seafood industry, which is a major economic engine for the region and country.

“Partnering with the highly-respected and popular Wegmans chain will help the Coalition share delicious flavors of the Gulf with our New England fans,” said Joanne Zaritsky, Marketing Director for the Gulf Seafood Marketing Coalition.

In addition to learning shrimp preparation techniques, Wegmans shoppers at all locations will notice informative Gulf seafood counter cards and window static clings throughout the store.

The Gulf Seafood Marketing Coalition provides a framework for the seafood community to coordinate marketing efforts among the Gulf States with emphasis on working with tourism boards, restaurants, retailers and chefs. 


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Cooke’s salmon processing plant resumes operations in Maine

UNITED STATES
Thursday, August 28, 2014

Forty workers are once again processing salmon at the True North Salmon processing facility in Machiasport, Maine.

Operations at this facility had been suspended for several months as a consequence of last winter’s extreme weather conditions, which affected harvesting schedules.

True North Salmon is the processing, sales and marketing division of Cooke Aquaculture USA.

“There is an increased demand for fresh Atlantic salmon raised in Maine,” says company CEO Glenn Cooke. “We are committed to increasing our farming sites to meet production volume efficiencies and consumer demand. Our goal is to increase our sustainable salmon production and year round employment in rural Maine.”

Governor Paul R. LePage applauded Cooke’s commitment to Maine and ensured sustainability of the salmon industry.

“These are good-paying jobs providing economic stability for Maine families,” he said.

The 30,000 square foot salmon processing plant was first opened in 1997 but was closed in 2004 because of a decline in the salmon farming industry and a dramatic drop in production.

When Cooke Aquaculture purchased the assets of two major multi-national aquaculture companies with Maine operations in 2006, the company made the commitment to work collaboratively with Government officials and the communities to rebuild the sector to be an economically viable and environmentally responsible industry.

True North Salmon supplies fresh Atlantic salmon to many customers in North America, including Harbor Fish Market at Custom House Wharf in Portland Maine, online retailer Fresh Direct and Celebrity Chef, Rick Moonen.

Cooke Aquaculture is a vertically integrated family company with headquarters in Blacks Harbour, New Brunswick Canada. It owns aquaculture operations in Canada, Chile, Spain and Scotland as well as significant operations in the US. Besides the processing facility in Machiasport, Cooke operates hatcheries and ocean farm sites in Maine.


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Corals and fish can smell bad reefs and avoid them

UNITED STATES
Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Damaged coral reefs emit chemical cues that repulse young coral and fish, discouraging them from settling in the degraded habitat, according to new research. A new study shows for the first time that coral larvae can smell the difference between healthy and damaged reefs when they decide where to settle.

Coral reefs are declining around the world. Overfishing is one cause of coral collapse, depleting the herbivorous fish that remove the seaweed that sprouts in damaged reefs. Once seaweed takes hold of a reef, a tipping point can occur where coral growth is choked and new corals rarely settle.

A study conducted by researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta shows how chemical signals from seaweed repel young coral from settling in a seaweed-dominated area. Young fish were also not attracted to the smell of water from damaged reefs. The findings suggest that designating overfished coral reefs as marine protected areas may not be enough to help these reefs recover because chemical signals continue to drive away new fish and coral long after overfishing has stopped.

“If you’re setting up a marine protected area to seed recruitment into a degraded habitat, that recruitment may not happen if young fish and coral are not recognizing the degraded area as habitat,” said Danielle Dixson, an assistant professor in the School of Biology at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, and the study's first author.

The study, recently published in the journal Science, examined three marine areas in Fiji that had adjacent fished areas. The country has established no-fishing areas to protect its healthy habitats and also to allow damaged reefs to recover over time.

Juveniles of both corals and fish were repelled by chemical cues from overfished, seaweed-dominated reefs but attracted to cues from coral-dominated areas where fishing is prohibited. Both coral and fish larvae preferred certain chemical cues from species of coral that are indicators of a healthy habitat, and they both avoided certain seaweeds that are indicators of a degraded habitat.

The study for the first time tested coral larvae in a method that has been used previously to test fish, and found that young coral have strong preferences for odors from healthy reefs.

The study showed that young fish have an overwhelming preference for water from healthy reefs. The researchers put water from healthy and degraded habitats into a flume that allowed fish to choose to swim in one stream of water or the other. The researchers tested the preferences of 20 fish each from 15 different species and found that regardless of species, family or trophic group, each of the 15 species showed up to an eight time greater preference for water from healthy areas.

The researchers then tested coral larvae from three different species and found that they pre


Tai Foong first to sell ASC-certified tilapia in the US

UNITED STATES
Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tai Foong USA is the first company in the US to source and sell ASC certified tilapia under its Northern Chef brand.

The firm's Northern Chef Tilapia Fillets 10 oz product have been on sale since mid-May this year across the country in Sprouts Farmers Market, Ingles Markets, Tops Friendly Markets, Lucky's Markets, Nugget Markets, Fresh Thyme Farmers Markets, and through the Harvest Meat Company. Tai Foong USA expects to distribute to an additional 5,000 stores this year alone.

Davy Lam, President Tai Foong USA, said that the ASC certified tilapia has become the number one seller in the Northern Chef fin fish line of products due its high quality, clean taste and responsibly farmed attributes. “We are thrilled to be able to offer our customers responsibly farmed tilapia,” Lam said.

“The ASC logo on the pack ensures that the fish has been certified against the most robust standard in the market. Tai Foong is committed to promoting environmental and social responsibility. The ASC programme supports our responsible sourcing policy and provides our customers with a greater choice. Therefore, we also plan to offer ASC certified shrimp in the US market once it is available.”

“I am delighted that the first product with the on-pack ASC logo is now available in the United States,” said Chris Ninnes, ASC’s CEO. “Thanks to Tai Foong’s commitment and vision to provide US consumers with responsibly farmed Tilapia, consumers are in turn rewarding the commitment of the farms through their seafood purchases.”

The on-pack ASC logo helps consumers make an informed choice when shopping for seafood. Products carrying the logo reassure customers that the fish is sourced from a farm that minimizes its environmental and social impact.

When shoppers buy ASC labelled products the certified farms receive the market recognition they deserve. Farms must meet the strict requirements set out in the ASC standards showing that they are well managed, use responsible farming methods and are socially responsible.

Companies in the supply chain that wish to sell their products as ASC certified must pass a rigorous Chain of Custody third party audit by an independent accredited certifier. The companies must demonstrate that they have solid traceability systems in place to guarantee that no product mixing or substitution can occur.

Certified companies are subject to annual surveillance audits, unannounced audits and product trace backs.

 



New warning against canned tuna stirs controversy

UNITED STATES
Monday, August 25, 2014

A new analysis from Consumer Reports states pregnant women should avoid all canned tuna, considering the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ‘underestimates the actual amount of mercury in each can.’

Despite this concern, the FDA stands by their recommendation: “Based on a review of the latest science, we have concluded that it is possible for pregnant and breastfeeding women, and women who might become pregnant, to increase growth and developmental benefits to their children by eating more fish than these groups of women typically do. This can be done while still protecting them from the potentially harmful effects of methylmercury in fish.”

In view of this situation, National Fisheries Institute (NFI) considers that “Consumer Reports does disservice to pregnant women with absurd tuna guidance” and claims that “Consumer Reports has long history of agenda-driven tuna reports that fly in the face of decade’s worth of independent, peer-reviewed science.”

After recalling that on 25 June the NFI had warned that Consumer Reports “was gearing up for another tuna story,” the non-profit organisation points out that "it is disappointing but not surprising" that the group produced another “tuna tale with a disproportionate focus on mercury and out-of-step nutrition recommendations.”

The FDA has released an update on the issue stating that "The Consumer Reports analysis is limited in that it focuses exclusively on the mercury levels in fish without considering the known positive nutritional benefits attributed to fish.”

"Studies with pregnant women in particular have consistently found that fish is important for growth and development before birth," the statement added.

Whereas Consumer Reports considers that vulnerable groups will benefit if they consume 8 to 12 ounces per week of lower mercury fish such as wild salmon, shrimp, sardines, tilapia and scallops, they urge FDA to immediately repost its chart “Mercury Levels in Commercial Fish and Shellfish (1990-2010),” in its original form, listing Lower Levels of Mercury, which was removed from the FDA website earlier in August.

In its analysis, Consumer Reports has identified a list of about 20 fish that women of childbearing age can consume 18 ounces of—and for some fish even more—per week and not exceed the the United States Environmen


Alaska seafood industry calls for ban on Russian seafood imports

UNITED STATES
Friday, August 22, 2014

Leading companies from Alaska's USD 6 billion seafood industry have announced their support for a ban on Russian seafood imports to the United States and urged Russia to rescind its ban on US food imports, in force since 7 August.

The seafood companies believe such a move would not only further squeeze Russia's faltering economy as Russia threatens European stability, but would support America's sustainable, high-quality fisheries.

The Alaska seafood industry is now seeking support from the Alaska congressional delegation for the ban, as well as from the United States Trade Representative. It also seeks diplomatic efforts to immediately end Russia's ban on US seafood products.

Those endorsing the ban include Alaska General Seafoods, Alyeska Seafoods, Icicle Seafoods, North Pacific Seafoods, Ocean Beauty Seafoods, Peter Pan Seafoods, Trident Seafoods, UniSea, Westward Seafoods, and the members of the Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers.

"We did not start this fight, and we hope the Russians will call off their embargo. But a US ban will signal to President Putin that America will not sit idly by while Russia disregards international law and tries to coerce the world into ignoring its transgressions through retaliatory actions," said Terry Shaff, President & CEO of UniSea Inc.

Russia has been a major market for US seaf


Seafood mislabeling poses mercury exposure risk

UNITED STATES
Thursday, August 21, 2014

New measurements from fish purchased at retail seafood counters in 10 different states show the extent to which mislabeling can expose consumers to unexpectedly high levels of mercury, a harmful pollutant.

Fishery stock "substitutions"—which falsely present a fish of the same species, but from a different geographic origin—are the most dangerous mislabeling offenses, according to new research by University of Hawai‘i at Manoa scientists.

“Accurate labeling of seafood is essential to allow consumers to choose sustainable fisheries,” said UH Manoa biologist Peter B. Marko, lead author of the new study published in the scientific journal PLOS One. “But consumers also rely on labels to protect themselves from unhealthy mercury exposure. Seafood mislabeling distorts the true abundance of fish in the sea, defrauds consumers, and can cause unwanted exposure to harmful pollutants such as mercury.”

The study included two kinds of fish: those labeled as Marine Stewardship Council- (MSC-) certified Chilean sea bass, and those labeled simply as Chilean sea bass (uncertified). The MSC-certified version is supposed to be sourced from the Southern Ocean waters of South Georgia, near Antarctica, far away from man-made sources of pollution. MSC-certified fish is often favored by consumers seeking sustainably harvested seafood but is also potentially attractive given its consistently low levels of mercury.

In a previous study, the scientists had determined that fully 20 per cent of fish purchased as Chilean sea bass were not genetically identifiable as such. Further, of those Chilean sea bass positively identified using DNA techniques, 15 per cent had genetic markers that indicated that they were not sourced from the South Georgia fishery.

In the new study, the scientists used the same fish samples to collect detailed mercury measurements. When they compared the mercury in verified, MSC-certified sea bass with the mercury levels of verified, non-certified sea bass, they found no significant difference in the levels. That’s not the story you would have expected based on what is known about geographic patterns of mercury accumulation in Chilean sea bass.

“What’s happening is that the species are being substituted,” Marko explained. “The ones that are substituted for MSC-certified Chilean sea bass tend to have very low mercury, whereas those substituted for uncertified fish tend to have very high mercury. These substitutions skew the pool of fish used


Alaska salmon fishermen to receive USD 7.8m relief funds

UNITED STATES
Wednesday, August 20, 2014

NOAA Fisheries Alaska Region is announcing the approval of the first grant application in the amount of USD 7.8 million to assist fishermen affected by the 2012 commercial fisheries failure due to the fishery resource disaster for the Yukon chinook fishery, Kuskokwim chinook fishery, and the Cook Inlet salmon fishery.

This award covers direct payments to commercial fishermen and breaks out as USD 3.2 million for the Yukon-Kuskokwim Region and USD 4.6 million for the Cook Inlet Region.

"From the moment we learned that Alaska would receive fishery disaster relief funds, our first priority has been to get those dollars directly into the hands of fishermen who were impacted by the fisheries failure," said Alaska Regional Administrator Jim Balsiger. "Approval of the grant application for direct assistance means that will happen very soon."

Impacted fishermen will be receiving their application for these disaster relief funds in the mail.

For the remaining funds (about USD 13 million), the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission is developing a second grant proposal based on spend plans provided by representative groups identified by the State of Alaska and the Congressional Delegation. NOAA Fisheries expects to award this second grant in the coming months. 


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