News and Notes

Nationwide Poll: 61% of Americans Mistakenly Believe Fish Causes Mercury Poisoning in Children

5 August, 2006
WASHINGTON, Aug. 3/PRNewswire/ Nearly two-thirds of Americans questioned in a new national opinion poll mistakenly believe that more than 1,000 childhood cases of mercury poisoning, from eating fish, are identified by scientists every year in the US. The actual number of scientifically documented fish-related mercury poisoning cases among US children each year is zero.

Fully 61% of respondents believed-in error-that at least 1,000 "childhood cases of mercury poisoning from eating fish" are reported by US scientists each year. The poll, which sampled the opinions of 1,011 Americans, was comissioned by the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) and conducted by Opinion Research Corporation.

"Americans are running scared from the fish counter, and there's no good reason for it," said David Martosko, CCF's Director of Research. "The health benefits from eating fish include a lower risk of heart disease and strokes, and they are very real. But any health risks from mercury in fish are outrageously exaggerated. That message clearly isn't getting through to most Americans. And government officials should remind Americans that fish is still the same brain food our mothers encouraged us to eat."

Activist groups including Oceana, the Environmental Working Group, Greeenpeace, the Sierra Club, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest have bombarded consumers with fish-related scare campaigns. However, the only scientifically documentated cases of fish-related human mercury poisoning occurred in Japan during the 1950s and 1960s following massive industrial dumping of mercury into fishing waters.

The survey of 1,011 adults nationwide was conducted by telephone between July 13 and July 16, 2006 by Opinion Research Corporation. The margin of error is plus or minus 3%.

QUESTION: How many childhood cases of mercury poisoning from eating fish do you think scientists identify in the US every year? Would you say...

About 100,000-10%, About 50,000-12%, About 10,000-18%, About 1,000-21%, About 100-16%, None-7%, Don't Know/Refused-15%, Net 1,000+ 61%.

Source: Center for Consumer Freedom at

Unexpected Kenai River Late Run Strength Results in Additional Fishing for all Sectors

4 August, 2006
The preseason projection for Kenai River sockeye salmon was for 1,849,000 fish, which is lower than normal. Based on this projection and the Cook Inlet Management Plan, commercial fishing time early in the season was significantly less than what is allowed during a year when an average run size is projected.

As the season progressed, the actual Kenai River sockeye run appeared to be even smaller than predicted and ADF&G became concerned about achieving the Kenai River late-run sockeye salmon spawning escapement goal of 500,000 fish. Consequently a number of fishery restrictions and closures were instituted for all user groups.

Kenai River sockeye counts unexpectedly increased approximately July 25, with daily counts exceeding 50,000 fish, Kenai bound sockeye are continuing to arrive at a time when normally the run is tapering off. Through Wednesday, August 2, the number of late-run sockeye estimated to have passed the sonar is about 750,000 fish.

The current Upper Cook Inlet Management Plan directs ADF&G to meet an in-river goal range of 650,000 - 850,000 sockeye salmon past the sonar counter during years when the expected run strength is less than 2,000,000 sockeye salmon. The Board of Fisheries, however, developed the Kenai River Late Run Sockeye Salmon Management portion of the plan based on average sockeye salmon run timing. Because this year's run timing has been very unusual, the goals within the current plan cannot be met without additional fishing opportunity. Accordingly, ADF&G is taking additional measures for all fisheries to harvest more Kenai River sockeye and avoid exceeding the in-river goal of 650,000 to 850,000 fish.

Source: Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G)

Chile: Salmon companies back to the core of a debate on environmental impact and labour conditions

10 July, 2006
The House of Reps requested that the Fishery and Aquaculture Commission look into the labour and environmental conditions of the farmed salmon industry. The request follows the alleged detection of toxic residues issued by the firm Los Fiordos, owned by the Agrosuper holding, and accusations of inappropriate safety conditions for workers, especially those performing high risk activies.

US: NOAA bans bottom trawling in Aleutian Islands Marine Habitat

30 June, 2006
NOAA Fisheries Service approved a final federal regulation that will close off large tracts of the Alaskan sea floor to bottom trawling for conservation purposes. The Aleutian Islands Habitat Conservation Area established under the new rule encompasses 279,114 square nautical miles and constitutes the third largest protected area in the world.

Beef News: Japan Begins Inspection of US Beef Plants

27 June, 2006
Ten officials from Japan's agriculture and health ministries have arrived in the US and begun inspections of 35 US meatpacking plants in Nebraska, Kansas, Texas and 13 other states, according to agriculture ministry official Hirofumi Kugita.

The officials plan to ensure the plants meet Japanese food safety standards before Japan makes its final decision on whether to resume imports of US beef. Inspections are expected to last one month.

FIS World News: US Likely to Donate Pink Salmon for Foreign Aid

27 June, 2006
The USDA may soon acquire some 1400 tonnes of Alaska canned Pink Salmon for distribution in international food-aid programmes

US: Alaska Salmon forecasts point to record year for 2006

16 June, 2006
Estimates for this years salmon harvest in Alaska calculate around 166 million fish, which is an amount lower than last years 221 million fish (3rd highest on record), but consistent with the 10-year average of 167 million. The projection for 2006 ranks among the top 10 salmon harvests on record. Species composition of the harvest is expected to be about 65% pink and keta and 35% traditional high-value species (chinook, coho and sockeye).

Bush to Create World's Largest Marine Protected Area Near Hawaii

15 June, 2006
President Bush will create the world's largest marine protected area, a total of 140,000 square miles of Pacific Ocean surrounding a necklace of islands and atolls that stretch from the main Hawaiian Islands to Midway Atoll and beyond.

The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands National Monument will be larger than all of America's national parks combined. Fishing will be phased out, and the mining of coral for jewelry will be prohibited, along with other practices that can damage delicate reefs (

USDA to reconsider grass-fed definition

13 June, 2006
The Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service is reopening comments on a new rule defining "grass-fed" for the purposes of marketing red meat after many commenters objected that the definition was not stringent enough.

The proposed definiton reads as follows:

"Grass (Forage) Fed--Grass (annual and perennial), forbs (legumes, brassicas), browse, forage, or stockpiled forages, and post-harvest crop residue without seperated grain shall be at least 99 percent of the energy source for the lifetime of the ruminant specie, with the exception of milk consumed prior to weaning. Routine mineral and vitamin supplementation may also be included in the feeding regimen. Grass (forage) fed claims will be verified, as provided in 7 CFR part 62, by a feeding protocol that confirms a grass or forage-based diet that is 99 percent or higher."

The original definition had required a percentage of 80 percent or higher. However, several who commented on the subject objected to the use of harvested stockpiled forages. AMS replied that in colder climates, it would be impossible to raise cattle on live forage.

US: West Coast salmon fishers struggle as legislators aim to help

6 June, 2006
The entire coastal region north of Monterey, California closed to commercial fishers on Thursday for two months as federal officials sought to stem the tide of declining salmon stocks (

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