All posts by Thomas Farrugia

Ocean Acidification: A threat to many parts of the ocean

Thomas Farrugia

Everybody’s heard of climate change; its potential effect on the diversity of our ecosystems, stability of our weather systems and our ability to feed ourselves in the future. But did you know that another effect of rising greenhouse gases in our atmosphere is the acidification of our oceans?

A new article from the Seattle Times does a very thorough job of explaining ocean acidification and outlining many possible detrimental effects it may have on our world. Decreased coral growth, increased extinction rates, effects on the senses of fishes, and dissolving marine invertebrate shells are all possible outcomes of an increasingly acidic ocean.

The danger of this phenomenon is that we don’t know exactly what’s going to happen, but the glimpses we are getting suggest that many lower trophic levels will be negatively impacted (corals, pteropods, zooplankton, etc…), which will have an effect on our fisheries species as well as the overall ecosystem.

Despite these dire consequences, ocean acidification has lived in the shadows of its larger cause, climate change. However ocean acidification has the potential to have tremendously catastrophic economic and ecological effects. This article does a fantastic job explaining ocean acidification (with a neat little video) and outlining all its consequences.


Hagfish Slime as a Model for Tomorrow’s Natural Fabrics

This article by science daily talks about hagfish slime being used to make synthetic fabric. Typically, synthetic fabrics are made from petroleum, but recently new methods are being researched; hagfish slime is one of those methods. Hagfish slime was found to contain threads 100 times thinner than a human hair. They can also produce quarts of slime per second. Since hagfish can naturally produce large amounts of this slime, they are a perfect resource for producing synthetic fabric. On top of this, it is a renewable resource. In years to come, the use of hagfish slime to make synthetic fabrics will more than likely become a common practice.

Blog by William Middleton

Article found at:

Salmon disaster causes Fisherman millions

Since 2006, Chinook salmon runs have declined all around the state of Alaska.   Although this has been a problem for several years, 2012 marked the worst year yet.   This post’s a serious problem to commercial fisherman who rely on these fish for their living.   The U.S department of Commerce has declared (salmon) failures in several major watersheds, such as the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers; which have in turn caused commercial fisherman to become eligible for disaster relief.   State Commerce Department Officials have estimated that commercial fisherman lost between 2-3.7 million dollars in the 2012 fishing season, due to poor King Salmon runs and closures.   Governor Parnell has put together a team to research the underlying cause of the diminishing King Salmon returns.

-John Klein

New Food for Aquaculture

A British entrepreneur named, Jason Drew has an idea on how to solve one of the most troublesome aquaculture’s issues, which is what will we use to feed the growing numbers of farmed fish.

Currently, farm-raised fish and shrimp need abundant amount of animal protein in their diet, which usually comes from fish meal. According to the article, it takes about 3 pounds of fish to produce 1 pound of farmed salmon. This conversion rate is the issue at hand and aquaculture experts are looking for a solution, which will not deplete wild fish stocks.

Jason Drew’s solution came to him, when he came across a sea of blood, covered in a frenzy of flies. Consulting with few scientists, he was persuaded that flies could reprocess the protein in animal blood and replace fish meal.

He started a fly factory and is already selling Magmeal to South African salmon and chicken farms. He says his factory will be producing 100 tons of fly meal a day. “That’s 100 tons we don’t have to take out of the sea,” he says. “And we can’t keep up with demand.”

Other possible solutions are also mention at the end of the article.

Xavier Lonewolf

Community-supported Fisheries: a new movement

An exciting new movement is taking place around the United States: local fishermen catching local fish for local consumption!

OK, so it’s not that new, actually this is the way fisheries operated for thousands of years, and yet it might be the key to the future sustainability of our coastal resources and economic resilience of our coastal human communities.

All around the country, small-scale local fishermen were finding it harder to make a living trying to compete with larger operations; they couldn’t go out as far, stay out as long, and wouldn’t produce enough revenue to offset their costs. So they decided to try another approach, only catch abundant, nearby species. This would be easier and cheaper for the fishermen, and no one resource would be over-exploited. But they also have to find people to buy this unpredictable catch.

This is were the community support comes in: the non-fishermen of the community (consumers, hotels, restaurants, local processors) have to be willing to buy whatever comes in. Ultimately fishermen are going to catch whatever people are buying, so what we eat determines what we fish. Even as simple fish consumers, we can have an active role in our local fisheries, and support our local fishermen in the process.



Full story:

Salmon get the flu too!

Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) is a Virus found commonly in farmed Atlantic Salmon, recent discovered showed that unlike a common virus this one attaches to endothelial cells that are found lining the luminal suface. It binds to receptors that grant access instantly into the blood stream. Scientists are discovering these receptor’s are fitting in to the virus like lock and key and the reason they do not affect the rainbow trout is because while they carry it the receptor’s do not fit for the virus to attach at activate.

– Courtney Sessum

Magnetic solution to shark bycatch

We all know that shark populations are declining in many of the world’s oceans. Some of this decline is due to finning, the practice of removing the fins from sharks to supply the shark fin soup market.

But, did you know that often times sharks are caught when trying to fish for something else? This is called bycatch, and countless sharks every year are killed and simply thrown back because they aren’t wanted… To avoid catching these unwanted sharks in the first place, chemist Eric Stroud, working on Bimini Islands in the Bahamas has been developing shark repellent materials. One of these involves producing a magnetic field around fishing hooks that could deter sharks from going after the bait.

These magnets can also be used to keep sharks away from swimming and surfing beaches. Other potential repellents include chemicals, and rare earth metals that seem to be unpleasant to the shark. All of these repellents operate on the principle of producing a negative stimulus if the shark gets too close.

See the full story, as well as a cool video at: