Fish stories: Dwindling fish, fish as fish food, best fish to eat

By Barbara Kessler

Concerns about the loss of aquatic life, including the fish we eat, have rippled around the globe this year with warnings about the loss of certain salmon, the Alaskan Pollock (the fish sticks fish) and of course sharks, which are becoming endangered at alarming rates.

This week brought more hard to digest news, that mountains of edible saltwater fish are being ground up and turned into animal food, for farm-raised fish, chickens and pigs, no less. This raises so many questions that it would be difficult to list them all here. But let’s start with: “What happens when pigs and chickens are forcibly turned into carnivores?” and “We’re catching fish to feed fish, really?”

Food crisis hits fish sticks

By Barbara Kessler

Remember the global food crisis of earlier this year? Unfortunately, the intervening mortgage, energy and banking crises have not solved it.

The next food shortages appear to be headed our way from the oceans, where overfishing has led to the steep decline of shark populations worldwide, the closing of West Coast salmon fisheries and now, the potential slide of the Alaskan Pollock.

This latest fish-in-trouble was once so prolific that it became the world’s most omnipresent, affordable everyman’s seafood, sliced into faux crab, minced and pressed into fish sticks and filleted into fast food McFishwiches.

Now, the workhorse Pollock, once vastly abundant, is experiencing a sudden unanticipated population decline of about 50 percent, jeopardizing the world’s supply of fish sticks (which may or may not alarm you), the survival of the Stellar Sea Lions of and countless Alaskan fishing jobs, according to a survey by the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The findings have conservationists calling for a reassessment fishing limits in the seas along the Bering Strait. They want the North Pacific Fishery Management Council to set new reasonable catch limits on the Pollock that consider sustainability when the council meets in December.