Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Question: What is the best way to catch a fish?

Yesterday we started off our conservation biology week with a slew of celebrities including Dr. Jane Lubchenco and former President Bill Clinton (who was speaking just a hop, skip, and jump away from Hatfield)! (Not to mention our infamous marine ecologist, professor, and amazing van driver- Dr. McLeod)

While Bill Clinton was entertaining the rest of Newport, we were more interested in Dr. Lubchenco's two lectures she gave on marine conservation biology. She touched on topics such as global ocean trends, fishing practices, climate change, and options for the future. Dr. Lubchenco talked about declining fish stocks on a global scale giving such options for improving them as: improving fishery management and enforcement, adopting ecosystem and evolutionary management, establishing networks of no-take marine reserves, making aquaculture sustainable, and aligning economic and environmental incentives. We also had an afternoon discussion with our new professor for the week, Dr. Karen McLeod. We talked about science, policy and ethics and everyone was fired up and interested about the topic and their ideas were very broad. We discussed what the difference between a scientist and an advocate is and how they can walk a very fine line.
Today, we had a lecture on fisheries and took a trip down to the Newport docks to investigate the fisherman's side of the conservation biology we'd learned the day before. Charlie from Local Ocean Seafoods took us on a tour to look at boats and talk to fishermen such as the man pictured below. He talked to us about different types of fishing and the methods he uses. He was a Salmon fisherman until the fishery was closed this year. Pictured below (from right to left) are weights used in Salmon fishing, empty weight containers on a boat no longer fishing for Salmon, and how expensive the "last" wild Salmon fillet is.

The fisherman has now moved on to Tuna as well as Lingcod. Some fishermen we saw were remodeling their boats in order to start fishing for Hagfish instead of their usual fish in hopes of finding more money on the Asian market. Hagfish are long, jawless fish that release slime when scared and so the fishermen have nicknamed them "Slime Eels." You wouldn't want to sit down to a Hagfish dinner now would you?!

After our tour we went back to Local Ocean Seafoods and Charlie did a fish filleting demonstration. He showed us how to fillet a Lingcod and a Rockfish. Pictured below, the mouth of a Lingcod! He told us a funny story about a time he was attempting to fillet a Lingcod and it had no intentions of being filleted! He had to wrestle with it and even took out its brain and it still wouldn't die! He eventually got it on the filleting table brainless but still moving. After his demonstration he let Sean get in on the filleting action!

We wrapped up our day with a discussion, this time on sustainable fisheries and seafood as well as catch share programs. Through catch share programs, fishermen are given a share of the total allowable catch and given the flexibility and accountability for meeting it. Throughout our discussion there were a lot of questions brought up about how we are going to maintain current fish stocks. Hope everyone has gotten a good start on our conservation research projects for Friday, we'll be back with the answer to our riddle next time!

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