The Whisker Chronicles

Whiskers are also known as vibrissa, from the latin vibrare "to vibrate". Vibrissa are the specialized hairs on mammals and the bristlelike feathers near the mouths of many birds. Their resonant design is symbolic of the energies, good and bad, that are reverberating throughout the natural world. Every living thing is connected and, by birthright, deserves to exist.

Sustainable Seafood is the Answer to the Oceans’ Limited Fish Supply

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Recently, I visited the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston, South Carolina. The aquarium is on the Charleston Harbor and has educational and volunteer staff members who are very engaging and eager to make sure you have an experience full of any combination of recreation, research, education and conservation. When you visit, please be sure and attend the diver presentation at the Great Ocean Tank, which holds 385,000 gallons and is the deepest aquarium tank on the U.S. East Coast. Their resident 220 pound Loggerhead sea turtle, Caretta, will make you smile at her “diva” antics. She is the only sea turtle in that particular tank, although the aquarium also has several sea turtles in the sea turtle rescue hospital. The conservation efforts are strong at the South Carolina Aquarium and at many AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums throughout the world.

Our admission dollars and gift shop purchases help zoos and aquariums in funding care of resident animals and in conservation of their wild counterparts. I always end tours of museums, galleries, zoos, aquariums, and historical landmarks with a trip to the gift shop, usually with an eye out for books on the topics that I just explored. The heart of this book nerd leapt when I saw books on the discount shelf! But then I soon found myself perplexed. Why were there several copies available of such an informative book that was now also a sale item?

The book that garnered this attention is a book whose title suggests the content is about fish from the Pacific Ocean, Good Fish. Sustainable Seafood Recipes from the Pacific Coast, by Becky Selengut. The South Carolina Aquarium is adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean, which I suspect may be part of the reason that so many copies lingered on the sale shelf. Looking through the book, I found myself repeating the questions in my head, “Do people pass over this book simply because it references an ocean on the other side of the continent? Do they not realize that their local grocer is likely selling fresh and frozen fish from all over the globe? Not to mention that most of the recipes apply to Atlantic Ocean dwelling sea life as well. Am I over thinking this (always a strong possibility)?”

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As I drooled over recipes such as wild salmon chowder with fire-roasted tomatoes and tom yum goong (spicy shrimp and lemongrass soup), I found myself also enjoying the author’s anecdotal stories of childhood, travels and the challenges only chefs can truly understand. The book really is a wonderful balance of “how to” in regards to sustainable dining for all of us seafood lovers. But maybe it’s that word “sustainable” in the title that is intimidating. According to NOAA, sustainable seafood is that which has been caught or farmed responsibly, with consideration for the long-term health of the environment and the livelihoods of the people that depend upon the environment.

The author of Good Fish explains three simple choices that can make a world of difference:

1. Diversify the kinds of fish you eat.

2. Be selective with your seafood purchases.

3. Limit the amount of seafood on your plate.

When it comes to choosing sustainable seafood, we do not have to work harder but, rather, smarter. The resources are there to help all of us make choices that suit our budget, our taste and that support oceans that are being pressured to produce food beyond their capabilities.

Seafood-Watch-Pocket-Guide

Sustainable is a word that should be part of the vernacular in every community on the globe.

In my last blog, Bycatch and Bygones: Ocean Biodiversity in Peril, I mention that nearly 85% of the world’s wild fisheries are fished to capacity, or overfished. I also provide a link to the Seafood Watch App for Android and iPhone that was developed by Monterey Bay Aquarium. There are also printable pocket guides available.

Monterey Bay Aquarium has produced this 15 minute video that explores our present and future quest for seafood, through both wild fisheries and through aquaculture, which is the practice of commercial farming in fish, shellfish, crabs, mussels and aquatic plants.

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