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July 24, 2009

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Rebecca T. of HonestMeat

Hans- thanks so much for writing. I was really hoping that a fisherman bite into my overly simplistic diatribe and put some things into perspective.
When I was talking about farmed salmon in my first post, I was talking about how devastating the salmon farms were on the native salmon, dramatically increasing the spread of sea lice. So I think salmon farming is completely unsustainable.
I also know my quote in the paper was not including seafood because the emphasis of my part of the article was the loss of farms and infrastructure such as dairies, slaughterhouses, feed mills, and the high price of land that does not allow for farming non-animal proteins (mostly legumes). With the human population of the Monterey Bay, could we get all the protein we need from the sea and still protect the long-term health of marine life?
We may have some local sources of sustainable seafood, but what about the rest of the country that might be landlocked, too toxic, or overfished? They probably import from some fishery that they have no connection too and probably don't care much about the health of it.
What you and Adam brought up about using seafood to feed land-based animals warrant more research on my part. If I took the total animal production and deducted all of the feed that is of marine origin, the total production would probably drop considerably.
Anyways, I really appreciate your thoughtful response and look forward to learning more from you.

Hans Haveman

Becky,
After reading your "Surf & Turf" blog and being one of the fisher-friends you refer to, I feel the need to respond.
Let's start with a profound yes, the fisheries of the world's oceans are fragile and some are in trouble. I will not even begin to dispute this. The future of our beloved ocean concerns me on a daily basis. We must however, take into consideration the fact that as dangerous as too little information can be, too much information on one bias can also be quite dangerous. Three- quarters of our world is covered in ocean and with that come many bad fishing practices, often profit driven and sometimes just to put food on the table. Much of the worlds' overfishing is actually for low-trophic species that are processed into fishmeal and oil for raising poultry, pigs and farmed fish. The negative impacts are now being realized and those concerned about the future of our oceans are going to great lengths to ensure that changes are made, an international ban on high seas gill nets being one of the most influential changes to be implemented to date. Fortunately, most of these decision makers are also concerned about the future of the sustainability of fish as a food source and for the conscientious fishermen that provide it. The best work that is being done in the conservation of fish species always focuses on localized fishing practices and the indigenous fish species affected. This kind of knowledge informs all concerned with the specific data our communities need to make the largest impact possible on the conservation of our specific species as well as contributing to the conservation of all species worldwide. We can talk global statistics all day long, but you and I are paying our bills and taking care of our conscience by acting locally! Contrary to what you say or think, it is absolutely possible to eat seafood sustainably, especially locally.
In June, you stated in our local paper, 'We have almost no protein sources in the county.' This is simply not true if you are going to believe the countless scientist and biologist on the marine front. Yes, there is always a changing model concerning sustainability, but there is also much that is constant and the resources for figuring this out are ever growing; Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, Blue Oceans, NROC, and FishWise just to name a few. A Google search will produce thousands of sites rich with sustainable fisheries information. One of the best resources for information is the honest fish monger with important local knowledge which I consider myself to be. I encourage consumers to find a few species that they are interested in and do a little research on them. It is not hard to find the information needed to be well informed and it takes almost no time at all.
In your blog, it is your writing about salmon which seems to stir the most passion for you, probably due to your sentimentality from growing up near the river and watching them as a child. First of all, you are talking about two completely different things: wild salmon from the Columbia River and farm-raised Atlantic salmon. The Columbia has been impacted by dams and logging devastating the habitat of the salmon, just as it has to our salmon here locally and in our rivers. It is a sad thing but there is much emphasis on it now and many solutions are in the works such as dams coming down and logging stopped. The fact that you even saw 8 salmon swim by in a matter of 15 minutes is a testament to the renewed health of the fishery thanks to the corrective actions that have been taking place. As far as fishing and consuming this salmon, it is impossible. We are simply not allowed to fish for it in order to protect its stocks which are increasing in both systems. Secondly, you mention farm-raised salmon and unless you've had your head in the sand for years or just don't care, you know it is one of the things NOT to eat for a myriad of reasons: habitat destruction, pollution from pesticides and antibiotics, genetic mixing with wild fish and shared parasites, feeds made with GMO soy, artificial coloring, not to mention it just tastes bad! So if one wants to eat salmon, we are lucky enough to have Alaska - the great natural fish factory with healthy and well-managed stocks of all the species that can get to us practically the next day with a relatively low carbon footprint.
Let's get back to local sustainable. There is plenty right here in our backyard that is very sustainable; black cod, California white seabass, California halibut, Dungeness crab, and sardines just to name a few. Much of it caught with rod and reel on little day boats by people I went to kindergarten with. No Becky, "line-caught" and "sustainable" are not just catch phrases, they are a reality. Comparing farm-raised salmon to what I sell is like comparing your farm to a factory farm. When you write of your intimate connection to the ocean, I understand and can't even begin to tell you the extent of my own connection with the ocean throughout the world, throughout my life. My last name is Haveman, which means harbor man - it is literally in my blood. I have been either in it, on it, or around it every day of my life. My deep respect for all that lives in it has no bounds and I will do everything in my power to protect it.
Life Aquatic,
Hans Haveman
H & H Fresh Fish Co.

Rebecca T. of HonestMeat

Adam- it is absurd that so much of our ocean's bounty goes to feed CAFO animals. That's a cycle of destruction that perhaps I will blog about later.

I do think there are some interesting aquaculture models such as Growing Power and the ancient Chinese duck/fish pond combos that hold a lot of potential. However, I can't stand the taste of warm-water, bottom-feeding fish, so I won't be consuming those fish either. But if tilapia floats your boat, the Growing Power model is truly amazing...

adam

Hey we actually agree on something :) But seriously, I think it is important to note the majority of the "meat" raised is fed in part on fish meal--chickens, pigs, and cows consume 1/3 of the world's "forage fish".


So not only ought we privileged eaters abstain from eating marine animals, we also ought to abstain from eating (at the very least) all feedlot-raised land animals as well (which is even more wasteful than eating fish directly)!


Oh, and have you heard of Growing Power's self-renewing Tilapia system. What are your thoughts on that?
http://thetyee.ca/Views/2007/04/17/EatLikePigs/
http://www.growingpower.org/aquaponics.htm

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