WBEZ | Fish http://www.wbez.org/tags/fish Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en An Industrial Chemical Finds its Way into Great Lakes Trout http://www.wbez.org/news/industrial-chemical-finds-its-way-great-lakes-trout-114670 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/great_lakes_trout.png" alt="" /><p><p>An industrial chemical is showing up in trout from all five of the Great Lakes. It&rsquo;s called perfluoro-1-butane sulfonamide, or FBSA.</p><p>Researchers traced this chemical back to several products on the market. Those include detergents and surfactants first used in 2003. Surfactants are materials made to stainproof and waterproof products.</p><p><a href="http://michiganradio.org/post/industrial-chemical-finds-its-way-great-lakes-trout#stream/0"><em><strong>LISTEN TO THE STORY</strong></em></a></p><p>This research was&nbsp;<a href="http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.est.5b05058">published in the Environmental Science and Technology</a>&nbsp;journal.</p><p>Robert Letcher is one of the study&#39;s authors. He&rsquo;s a senior research scientist for&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ec.gc.ca/cc/">Environment and Climate Change Canada</a>, a department of the Canadian government.</p><p>Letcher says his team tested trout samples from seven different sites throughout the Great Lakes. They also tested fish from four other lakes in Canada.</p><p>Almost all of the fish his team tested had detectable levels of the&nbsp;FBSA chemical in their bodies. Thirty-two of the 33 samples tested came back showing the chemical. To be clear, we&rsquo;re talking low levels here &mdash; parts per billion low.</p><p>Letcher says it was a surprise to find the chemical in fish.</p><p>&ldquo;We were the first ever to find this compound in the environment &mdash; like to demonstrate its presence,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s never been reported before.&rdquo;</p><div><img data-interchange-default="http://michiganradio.org/sites/michigan/files/styles/default/public/201602/figure_1.png" data-interchange-large="http://michiganradio.org/sites/michigan/files/styles/large/public/201602/figure_1.png" data-interchange-medium="http://michiganradio.org/sites/michigan/files/styles/medium/public/201602/figure_1.png" data-interchange-small="http://michiganradio.org/sites/michigan/files/styles/small/public/201602/figure_1.png" src="http://michiganradio.org/sites/michigan/files/styles/large/public/201602/figure_1.png" style="height: 247px; width: 310px; float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="The fish sampling sites. (From &quot;A New Flourinated Surfactant Contaminant in Biota&quot;)" /><div><div>The researchers don&rsquo;t know exactly what&rsquo;s happening here. It could be that other chemicals are breaking down into FBSA in the environment. But the chemical might also be coming straight from industrial products.</div></div></div><p>Letcher says some companies started using FBSA to replace a different chemical, called FOSA, or perfluorooctane sulfonamide. Studies showed that chemical was breaking down, and part of it was building up in the food web.</p><p>In 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency put together an industry-wide agreement to phase that chemical out. So industries replaced it with chemicals like FBSA. And that&rsquo;s the chemical Letcher and his team are now finding in fish.</p><p>He says scientists often have to play catch up to figure out if there are problems with new chemicals brought onto the market.</p><p>&ldquo;When a body of evidence &mdash; scientific evidence &mdash; builds up great enough to basically render a negative decision against a compound, and it gets regulated or what have you, companies phase these compounds out and they look for alternatives which to use that are safer, but also to serve their purpose,&rdquo; Letcher says.</p><p><strong>Unknown Effects</strong></p><p>He says research into FBSA is so new, they just don&rsquo;t know much about what this might mean for fish or for people who eat the fish.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s completely impossible to tell, because nobody&rsquo;s done anything regarding toxicology,&rdquo; Letcher says. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s usually the way things go. Somebody like us, we find a new chemical, and in this case in fish. And obviously a lot of aquatic fish toxicologists out there are going, &lsquo;Well, we should really try to understand what this chemical could be doing to the fish.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Letcher says one of the next steps is to look at other species in the food web. That way his team can figure out if this chemical is building up in other creatures.</p><p>The American Chemistry Council said the FBSA chemical is not made by any of its<a href="https://www.americanchemistry.com/Membership/MemberCompanies">member companies</a>, and was therefore unwilling to comment.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://michiganradio.org/post/industrial-chemical-finds-its-way-great-lakes-trout#stream/0"><em> via Michigan Radio</em></a></p></p> Tue, 02 Feb 2016 09:14:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/industrial-chemical-finds-its-way-great-lakes-trout-114670 Fish Stocks are Declining Worldwide, and Climate Change is on the Hook http://www.wbez.org/news/fish-stocks-are-declining-worldwide-and-climate-change-hook-114210 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/sole_edited_custom-143d61edc5e4d102aee854bd44bf71d32ec7d612-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res459705256" previewtitle="A fisherman shovels grey sole, a type of flounder, out of the hold of a ship at the Portland Fish Pier in Maine, September 2015. New research finds the ability of fish populations to reproduce and replenish themselves is declining across the globe. The worst news comes from the North Atlantic, where most species are declining."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="A fisherman shovels grey sole, a type of flounder, out of the hold of a ship at the Portland Fish Pier in Maine, September 2015. New research finds the ability of fish populations to reproduce and replenish themselves is declining across the globe. The worst news comes from the North Atlantic, where most species are declining." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/14/sole_edited_custom-143d61edc5e4d102aee854bd44bf71d32ec7d612-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 456px; width: 620px;" title="A fisherman shovels grey sole, a type of flounder, out of the hold of a ship at the Portland Fish Pier in Maine, September 2015. New research finds the ability of fish populations to reproduce and replenish themselves is declining across the globe. The worst news comes from the North Atlantic, where most species are declining. (Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)" /></div><div><div><p>For anyone paying attention, it&#39;s no secret there&#39;s a lot of weird stuff going on in the oceans right now. We&#39;ve got a monster El Nino looming in the Pacific. Ocean acidification is<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/02/23/388480482/acidifying-waters-are-endangering-your-oysters-and-mussels">&nbsp;prompting hand wringing</a>&nbsp;among oyster lovers. Migrating fish populations have<a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2015/03/13/iceland_abandons_eu_bid_it_s_all_about_the_mackerel.html">&nbsp;caused tensions</a>&nbsp;between countries over fishing rights. And fishermen say they&#39;re seeing<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/06/11/412943456/why-is-this-fisherman-selling-threatened-bluefin-tuna-for-2-99-a-pound">&nbsp;unusual patterns</a>&nbsp;in fish stocks they haven&#39;t seen before.</p></div></div></div><p>Researchers now have more grim news to add to the mix. An analysis published Monday in the&nbsp;<em>Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences&nbsp;</em>finds that the ability of fish populations to reproduce and replenish themselves is declining across the globe.</p><p>&quot;This, as far as we know, is the first global-scale study that documents the actual productivity of fish stocks is in decline,&quot; says lead author&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gregorybritten.info/home">Gregory L. Britten</a>, a doctoral student at the University of California, Irvine.</p><p>Britten and some fellow researchers looked at data from a global database of 262 commercial fish stocks in dozens of large marine ecosystems across the globe. They say they&#39;ve identified a pattern of decline in juvenile fish (young fish that have not yet reached reproductive age) that is closely tied to a decline in the amount of phytoplankton, or microalgae, in the water.</p><p>&quot;We think it is a lack of food availability for these small fish,&quot; says Britten. &quot;When fish are young, their primary food is phytoplankton and microscopic animals. If they don&#39;t find food in a matter of days, they can die.&quot;</p><p>The worst news comes from the North Atlantic, where the vast majority of species, including Atlantic cod, European and American plaice, and sole are declining. In this case, Britten says historically heavy fishing may also play a role. Large fish, able to produce the biggest, most robust eggs, are harvested from the water. At the same time, documented declines of phytoplankton made it much more difficult for those fish stocks to bounce back when they did reproduce,<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/30/science/cods-continuing-decline-traced-to-warming-gulf-of-maine-waters.html?_r=0">&nbsp;despite aggressive fishery management efforts</a>, says Britten.</p><p>When the researchers looked at plankton and fish reproduction declines in individual ecosystems, the results varied. In the North Pacific &mdash; for example, the Gulf of Alaska &mdash; there were no significant declines. But in other regions of the world, like Australia and South America, it was clear that the lack of phytoplankton was the strongest driver in diminishing fish populations.</p><p>&quot;When you averaged globally, there was a decline,&quot; says Britten. &quot;Decline in phytoplankton was a factor in all species. It was a consistent variable.&quot;</p><p>And it&#39;s directly linked to climate change: Change in ocean temperature affects the phytoplankton population, which is impacting fish stocks, he says.</p><div id="res459726645"><div id="responsive-embed-map-fisheries-20151214"><iframe frameborder="0" height="699px" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" src="http://apps.npr.org/dailygraphics/graphics/map-fisheries-20151214/child.html?initialWidth=773&amp;childId=responsive-embed-map-fisheries-20151214&amp;parentUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.npr.org%2Fsections%2Fthesalt%2F2015%2F12%2F14%2F459404745%2Ffish-stocks-are-declining-worldwide-and-climate-change-is-on-the-hook%3Fft%3Dnprml%26f%3D459404745" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border-width: 0px; border-style: initial; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;" width="620"></iframe></div></div><p>Food sources for fish in their larval stage were also a focus of<a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/112/30/E4065.full.pdf">&nbsp;research</a>&nbsp;published earlier this summer by&nbsp;<a href="https://www.princeton.edu/aos/people/research_staff/asch/index.xml">Rebecca Asch</a>, now a post-doctoral research associate at Princeton University. Asch studied data from 1951 to 2008 on 43 species of fish collected off the Southern California coast and found that many fish have changed the season when they spawn. When fish spawned too early or too late in the season, there can be less plankton available to them, shrinking their chance of survival. She calls it a &quot;mismatch&quot; between when the fish spawn and when seasonal plankton blooms.</p><p>Knowing just how vulnerable our fisheries are to potential climate change is on the radar of NOAA Fisheries. The agency has put together a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/Assets/ecosystems/climate/documents/Fish_Stock_Climate_Vulnerability_Assessment.pdf">Fish Stock Climate Vulnerability Assessment</a>&nbsp;report expected to be released in early 2016. And like many things associated with climate change, there will be winners and losers.</p><p>Jon Hare is the oceanography branch chief for NOAA Fisheries&#39; Northeast Fisheries Science Center and a lead researcher on the agency&#39;s assessment. He says they looked at 82 fish and invertebrate species in the Northeast. About half of the species, including Atlantic cod, were determined to be negatively impacted by climate change in the Northeast U.S. Approximately 20 percent of the species are likely to be positively impacted&mdash;like the Atlantic croaker. The remainder species were considered neutral.</p><p>Similar assessments are underway in the California Current and the Bering Sea, and eventually in all of the nation&#39;s large marine ecosystems.</p><p>&quot;This is where the idea of ecosystem-based management comes in. It&#39;s not only fishing that is impacting these resources,&quot; says Hare. &quot;We need to take a more holistic view of these resources and include that in our management.&quot;</p><p>Britten says the fact that productivity of a fishery can change should be an eye-opener for fisheries management.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s no longer just pull back on fishing and watch the stock rebound. It&#39;s also a question of monitoring and understanding the ability of stocks to rebound, and that&#39;s what we demonstrated in this study. The rebound potential is affected as well,&quot; says Britten.</p><p><i>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/12/14/459404745/fish-stocks-are-declining-worldwide-and-climate-change-is-on-the-hook?ft=nprml&amp;f=459404745" target="_blank"> via NPR</a></i></p></p> Thu, 17 Dec 2015 15:37:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/fish-stocks-are-declining-worldwide-and-climate-change-hook-114210 Fish-filled diet causing elevated mercury levels in Asian-Americans http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/fish-filled-diet-causing-elevated-mercury-levels-asian-americans-113564 <p><p>Asian-Americans eat a lot of fish.</p><p>And while that can contribute to better health, it can also lead to elevated mercury levels in the blood. That&rsquo;s because industrial pollution has contaminated waterways and the fish living in it. This makes some traditional Asian eating patterns risky, especially for women of childbearing age.&nbsp;</p><p>Elevated mercury levels in pregnant and nursing women can impair the cognitive development of their children. And high levels in older adults can increase risk of cardiovascular disease.</p><p>When researchers studied blood and hair samples of Asian Americans in Seattle and New York they found elevated mercury levels in one-third to nearly half of all subjects, respectively.</p><p>Preliminary studies have shown similar issues in Chicago Asians, according to environmental health physician Dr. Susan Buchanan. This week the University of Illinois at Chicago announced that Buchanan and her colleagues have received a $2.6 million grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health to study the issue further.</p><p>The five-year research project will work with Asian community groups to gather and better gauge mercury exposure. But the scientists also hope to explore the cultural traditions and practices around fish consumption.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Sambal-fish.jpg" style="float: right; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title="Environmental health physician Dr. Susan Buchanan will be studying the eating habits of local Asians, as well as mercury levels in staples of their diet, like fish sauce and oyster sauce. It’s part of her five-year project to reduce mercury exposure in Asian Americans. (WBEZ/Monica Eng)" />&ldquo;I&rsquo;m really interested to see what role the different types of fish sauces play,&rdquo; Buchanan said. &ldquo;We are going to be testing them for mercury levels and using statistical analysis to gauge what role the quantity of fish sauce plays in their overall risk. I&rsquo;m also interested in the practice of eating the whole fish including the organs and sometimes the bones.&rdquo;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>And then there&rsquo;s the issue of fish head soup.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;We have learned from our preliminary interaction with Asian community groups in Chicago that fish head soup is very popular during breastfeeding,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re wondering if that might lead to elevated mercury [in mother&rsquo;s systems] during breastfeeding, which would also be a concern because mercury does appear in breast milk.&rdquo;</p><p>The researchers are also concerned about exposure to PCBs through fish consumption, But because the chemicals are difficult to measure in the body, they will do PCB testing on fish from local markets where the participants shop.</p><p>After the UIC scientists have identified some of the most common sources of mercury exposure in the local Asian diet, Buchanan says they plan to craft interventions. These will include a text message app that will remind women about the safest fish choices during their childbearing years.</p><p><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-2ca5692f-b8eb-f4d8-4c0e-94a2bc3e88e4">Monica Eng is a WBEZ food and health reporter. Follow her at</span><a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng"> @monicaeng</a> or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p></p> Fri, 30 Oct 2015 08:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/fish-filled-diet-causing-elevated-mercury-levels-asian-americans-113564 That salmon on the menu might be a fraud - especially in winter http://www.wbez.org/news/salmon-menu-might-be-fraud-especially-winter-113532 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/salmonistock.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res452552647"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="When salmon was out of season, diners in restaurants were likely to get a species other than what they ordered 67 percent of the time, a new survey finds." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/28/istock_000048514658_full_slide-1388bd0f3924894bb2e10c312bced111dea97050-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="When salmon was out of season, diners in restaurants were likely to get a species other than what they ordered 67 percent of the time, a new survey finds. (iStockphoto)" /></div><div><div><p>Would you be able to tell if the wild Alaskan sockeye salmon you ordered for dinner was swapped out for a less expensive piece of farm-raised salmon?</p></div></div></div><p>For the observant, the color difference between the two would likely be the first give away. (Sockeye has a deeper red-orange hue.) Or maybe you&#39;d notice the disparity in the thickness of fillet. (Sockeye is flatter and less steaky in appearance.)</p><p>But what if you ordered the most coveted of salmon species &mdash; king salmon? (It&#39;s also known as Chinook.) Much like farmed Atlantic salmon, it&#39;s light in color, thick in texture and similarly marbled with fat. It&#39;s also significantly more expensive. And according to<a href="http://oceana.org/salmonfraud">&nbsp;a new report</a>&nbsp;released Wednesday by conservation group Oceana, it&#39;s a fish where you&#39;re more likely to get duped &mdash; especially if you order it from a restaurant during the winter.</p><p>In its latest attempt to uncover seafood fraud, Oceana collected and tested 82 salmon samples from restaurants and grocery stores in Virginia, Washington, D.C., Chicago and New York between December 2013 and March 2014. Results showed that 43 percent of salmon samples tested were mislabeled, and that far more of that mislabeling is occurring in restaurants than in large supermarkets.</p><p>The instances of salmon fraud were significantly higher than during an<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2013/02/21/172589997/one-in-three-fish-sold-at-restaurants-and-grocery-stores-is-mislabeled">&nbsp;earlier 2013 nationwide study</a>&nbsp;by the same group. That study included far more &mdash; 384 samples, which showed salmon fraud at only 7 percent. But the jump isn&#39;t being attributed to a sudden increase in unabandoned label swapping, rampant menu hijinks or differences in sample size. This survey was designed to measure fraud during the winter months, when salmon was not in season, and the marketplace would be shorter on supply, says Kimberly Warner, a senior scientist at Oceana who authored the new report.</p><p>&quot;In D.C. in summer, I don&#39;t think we had any salmon mislabeling. Same for Chicago,&quot; Warner tells The Salt.</p><p>To select samples for the newest study, Oceana searched online menus for restaurants touting &quot;wild salmon&quot; and sought out salmon labeled &quot;wild&quot; in grocery stores.</p><p>What the group found was that when wild salmon was out of season, the testing netted significantly different results. Diners were likely to get duped 67 percent of the time when ordering salmon in restaurants, compared with 20 percent of the time when buying in large grocery stores &mdash; which have to comply with country of origin labeling (COOL) regulations. And when diners were deceived, it was more likely to be an incident of farmed salmon being passed off as more expensive wild (69 percent of the time).</p><p>Erica Cline, an associate professor at the University of Washington Tacoma, conducted a<a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0963996911006247">&nbsp;similar study published in 2012</a>. Initially, she also found higher rates of farmed salmon being swapped for wild during winter months. But her ongoing testing in the years since has found that fraud tends to fluctuate regardless of season. Like Oceana&#39;s report, &quot;we still see substantially higher rates of substitution in restaurants than in [grocery] stores,&quot; Cline says.</p><p>Oceana says this kind of fraud is a real economic problem: Salmon-loving consumers aren&#39;t always getting what they&#39;re paying for, and responsible American salmon fishermen are being forced to compete with fraudulent products &quot;receiving less cash than they should be for their hard-won catch,&quot; according to the report.</p><p>And Warner says it&#39;s an environmental problem for those consumers who go the extra mile to consult seafood sustainability ratings like the Monterey Bay Aquarium&#39;s Seafood Watch, which ranks seafood as &quot;best choice,&quot; &quot;good alternative&quot; or &quot;avoid.&quot;</p><div id="res452554311"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Salmon for sale at a market." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/28/1280px-pike_place_market_-_silver_salmon_at_pure_food_fish_01_custom-583b33496a4c7e216bc8e892f3dd825469cc437e-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 408px; width: 620px;" title="Salmon for sale at a market. (Joe Mable/Wikimedia)" /></div><div><div><p>&quot;If someone is trying to purchase something rated as a &quot;best choice,&quot; like a wild Alaskan salmon, and is getting in its place something from a foreign country that has problems with sea lice or antibiotic use &mdash; if farmed &mdash; or was caught illegally, it could have serious ecological consequences,&quot; says Warner.</p></div></div></div><p>&quot;Serious ecological consequences&quot; is strong language. If the marketplace swap is simply farmed salmon for wild, rather than a species threatened by overfishing, the damage to the environment may be less than the damage to a deceived diner&#39;s wallet. Afterall, the farmed salmon industry has come a long way from it&#39;s days as a poster child for bad aquaculture practices, says NOAA Fisheries spokesperson Jennie Lyons.</p><p>&quot;There are a lot of misconceptions about aquaculture, and farmed salmon,&quot; Lyons tells The Salt.</p><p>Salmon is the most popular fish in America. We consume impressive amounts of it &mdash; nearly 870 million pounds of a year. The majority of that, nearly two-thirds, come from farmed salmon, grown outside the U.S, despite the fact that American fishermen catch enough salmon to satisfy 80 percent of our domestic demand.</p><p>But global seafood supply chains are complex. Fish don&#39;t often travel in a straight line from fishermen to chef to plate. Approximately 70 percent of U.S. wild-caught salmon is exported, much of it to Asia for processing into tidy fillets. And at each step in that journey, information about the fish &mdash; where it was caught, how it was caught and the exact species &mdash; can get left behind. That&#39;s true even when the same salmon sent to China for processing is refrozen and shipped back to us &mdash; a head-scratching fish swap noted by author<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2014/07/01/327248504/the-great-fish-swap-how-america-is-downgrading-its-seafood-supply">&nbsp;Paul Greenberg</a>&nbsp;in American Catch.</p><p>Precisely how much of that salmon comes back to quell American appetites is unclear.</p><p>&quot;No one has yet given me a satisfying answer for how much of that is reimported,&quot; says Greenberg.</p><p>Warner says that&#39;s because no one is tracking it. This system creates conditions ripe for fraud and mislabeling. There are no traceability requirements in place that will follow a fish from the point where it was caught to its final place on your dinner plate.</p><p>&quot;We have no tracking of our fish through the supply chain. That&#39;s how something like illegal caught Russian salmon can enter into our supply chain,&quot; she says &mdash; and be mislabeled as &quot;pacific salmon&quot; or &quot;wild salmon.&quot;</p><p>And it is why Oceana is calling on the<a href="http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2015/20150315-presidential-task-force-releases-action-plan-to-combat-illegal-unreported-and-unregulated-fishingaand-seafood-fraud.html">&nbsp;President&#39;s Task Force on Combating Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing and Seafood Fraud</a>&nbsp;to include salmon asaspecies at high risk for fraud, and to expand documentation requirements to all seafood entering the U.S. supply chain.</p><p>Steven Wilson, deputy director of the Office of International Affairs and<a href="http://www.seafood.nmfs.noaa.gov/">&nbsp;Seafood Inspection</a>&nbsp;at NOAA Fisheries, is a member of the task force. He, says issues of seafood fraud are on the government&#39;s radar, but says NOAA&#39;s own testing has not shown an uptick in salmon species substitutions.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re seeing an increase of seafood fraud as you move further down the supply chain, but we&#39;re not seeing an increase in the overall percentage being mislabeled,&quot; says Wilson. The further down the supply chain a fish goes, the likelier it is to be mislabeled he says &mdash; but he stresses that not all menu mislabeling is intentional.</p><p>&quot;Someone can make a simple mistake,&quot; Wilson says. &quot;They serve salmon on the menu, run out, buy more and wouldn&#39;t necessarily even think about it. It&#39;s very telling that salmon fraud identified in grocery stores was far less. Restaurants are the most susceptible.&quot;</p><p>His advice on avoiding salmon fraud echoes Oceana&#39;s: Ask questions &mdash; and lots of them. Look at the price you&#39;re paying for the salmon: If it&#39;s too good to be true, be cautious. Warner would add: Seek-out wild salmon in-season, and look for fish that are traceable back to the boat.</p><p>Wilson says it&#39;s important to keep the problem in perspective.</p><p>&quot;Is the consumer being defrauded? If the consumer definitely wants wild caught, they&#39;re not getting what they&#39;re paying for,&quot; he says. &quot;But what if they&#39;re paying less? If they&#39;re paying for Atlantic salmon, they&#39;re getting what they&#39;re paying for. What if they&#39;re paying for ambiance, a night out with good friends? [Then] they&#39;re getting what they&#39;re paying for. It&#39;s fuzzy. I&#39;m not condoning it, but how far do we go, and what&#39;s the punishment?&quot;</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/10/28/452539969/that-salmon-on-the-menu-might-be-fraudulent-especially-in-winter?ft=nprml&amp;f=452539969"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Wed, 28 Oct 2015 11:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/salmon-menu-might-be-fraud-especially-winter-113532 Fish and risks: Eating Lake Michigan catch http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/fish-and-risks-eating-lake-michigan-catch-109808 <p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: This story has an addendum that addresses a follow-up question we received via a comment. The current article addresses chemicals that are of concern to environmental agencies and that affect issuance of fish consumption advisories. The <a href="#addendum">addendum </a>addresses additional chemicals of concern.&nbsp;</em></p><p>Steve Ediger says he&rsquo;s not an avid fisherman, but he has cast a few lines. When he was growing up, his grandfather would take him fishing in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.</p><p>About six years ago, he moved to Chicago&rsquo;s northernmost neighborhood of Rogers Park, where he sees people<a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/fishing"> fishing</a> off Farwell Pier. It got him wondering about the fish those anglers catch, so he asked Curious City:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>&ldquo;What would it take for Lake Michigan fish to be safe to eat?&rdquo;</em></p><p>Ediger suspects Lake Michigan fish aren&rsquo;t entirely safe to eat, and he&rsquo;s not alone. With major cities and industrial centers like Chicago, Milwaukee and Green Bay along its shores &mdash; as well as the <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-06-23/news/ct-met-bp-mercury-20130623_1_bp-refinery-whiting-refinery-oil-company-bp">refineries of Northwestern Indiana</a> &mdash; Lake Michigan is no stranger to pollution. To find out just how much of the stuff ends up in the fish we pluck out of the lake, I asked a few people with different angles on the situation. Turns out a lot of work goes into monitoring and disseminating information about contaminants in Lake Michigan fish. We find out which are most worrisome to fishermen and toxicologists, but also why you shouldn&rsquo;t let that scare you off eating fish entirely.</p><p><strong>A pro&rsquo;s perspective</strong></p><p>I put the question to someone who handles Lake Michigan fish every day: Joel Reiser, captain of the Chicago charter boat company<a href="http://www.bnrcharters.com/"> Brush And Roll</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;Pretty much everything is edible in Lake Michigan with moderation,&rdquo; he says. Reiser brings up to six people on chartered fishing trips in Lake Michigan, leaving from<a href="http://www.wbez.org/chicago-unveils-new-south-side-boat-harbor-99912"> 31st Street Harbor</a>. They catch chinook salmon, coho salmon, lake trout, rainbow trout, and brown trout. His crew cleans and bags up to five fish per customer (only two lake trout), which they can take home to eat.</p><p>He&rsquo;s been eating fish from Lake Michigan and elsewhere since he was a child. That might worry some people who have heard unsettling things about Lake Michigan fish. One fish market I called looking for Lake Michigan fish told me to &ldquo;try to the cancer ward.&rdquo;</p><p>With <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-08-07/news/ct-met-great-lakes-plastic-pollution-20130807_1_lorena-rios-mendoza-lake-michigan-toxic-chemicals">stories of polluted waters</a> swirling, Reiser watches out for government-issued fish advisories and eats seafood in moderation. But he says fish from any waters can contain contaminants.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve never heard of anyone growing a third eye, you know, some of the jokes that are out there,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;So I believe that it&rsquo;s safer. I believe the government does put higher standards on it, just as a safety precaution just to cover &mdash; no pun intended &mdash; their own tail.&rdquo;</p><p>It turns out, Reiser&rsquo;s basically right. In casting about for an answer to Ediger&#39;s question, we found out Lake Michigan&rsquo;s pollution problems aren&rsquo;t the whole story. The horror stories are overblown, but they&rsquo;re rooted in truth.</p><p><strong>(Fish) food for thought</strong><a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/210637870/Lake-Michigan-fish-How-many-should-you-eat" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/big fish graphic 2.png" style="float: right; height: 882px; width: 320px;" title="Click to download a printable version. (Graphic by Logan Jaffe/WBEZ)" /></a></p><p>Tom Hornshaw, a toxicologist with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency&rsquo;s &ldquo;<a href="http://www.epa.state.il.us/water/surface-water/fish-contaminant-mon.html">fish contaminant monitoring program</a>,&rdquo; helps gather data that goes into those government advisories. Since 1974, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and IEPA have nabbed fish (mainly bass, channel catfish and carp)<a href="http://mercnet.briloon.org/projects/IL_EPA_-_llinois_Fish_Contaminant_Monitoring_Program/144/"> from 500 locations</a> in Illinois for contaminant testing. I asked Hornshaw point-blank: Is it safe to eat fish from Lake Michigan?</p><p>&ldquo;Yeah,&rdquo; he says, &ldquo;as long as you follow the various advisories that have been issued for Lake Michigan fish.&rdquo;</p><p>If you&rsquo;re wondering what Captain Reiser meant by &ldquo;moderation,&rdquo; you might start with the<a href="http://www.ifishillinois.org/regulations/consumption.html"> general fish consumption advisory</a> from the Illinois Department of Public Health.</p><p>State agencies keep<a href="http://www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/fishadvisory/index.htm"> a running list of current fish advisories statewide</a>, which vary by species and body of water. They also change over time. On a <a href="http://www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/fishadvisory/lakemichigan.htm">page that&#39;s specific to Lake Michigan catch</a>, the agency provides warnings for&nbsp;10 fish species. The DNR doesn&rsquo;t recommend you eat any of them more than once a week, and some come with the unequivocal advice: &ldquo;<strong>Do Not Eat.</strong>&rdquo; This applies to lake-caught carp and channel catfish.</p><p>The advisories vary based on the fish&rsquo;s size, in some cases. Take the yellow perch,<em> Perca flavescens</em>. Fish less than 11 inches long, the Illinois DNR says, should be eaten at most once per week. But you should only eat perch larger than 11 inches once per month. Likewise lake trout, a popular sport fish can that grow up to three feet long, carries three tiers of advisories: less than 25 inches? One meal per month; 25-29 inches? Six meals per year; larger than 29 inches? Do not eat.</p><p>If you fish in Wisconsin, use that state&rsquo;s<a href="http://dnr.wi.gov/FCSExternalAdvQry/FishAdvisorySrch.aspx"> online query tool</a> to check on the water you&rsquo;ll be fishing. Indiana, too,<a href="http://www.in.gov/isdh/23650.htm"> updates its fish consumption advisories online</a>.</p><p><strong>PCBs: What&rsquo;s all the fuss about?</strong></p><p>One of the major culprits are a group of chemicals known as PCBs. Polychlorinated biphenyls<a href="http://www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/fishadvisory/fishadvisory_qa_pcb.htm"> are a group of man-made chemicals useful in a variety of industrial processes</a>, including the insulation and cooling of electrical equipment. EPA banned their use in 1979, after it was widely recognized PCB pollution had caused skin conditions and immune system disorders. Studies have also linked the chemicals to cancer. We produced more than one billion pounds of the stuff in the U.S., about half of which made its way into the environment.</p><p>They take a long time to break down, so PCBs are still prevalent in the environment.<a href="http://www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/fishadvisory/waukegannorthharbor.htm"> There is a specific advisory for Waukegan North Harbor</a>, where Outboard Marine Corp.<a href="http://newssun.suntimes.com/news/14980816-418/waukegan-harbor-pcb-mess-finally-getting-scrubbed.html"> dumped PCBs</a> as a byproduct of their manufacturing process. That cleanup is ongoing.<a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-09-07/news/ct-met-waukegan-harbor-cleanup-20120907_1_susie-schreiber-cleanup-sites-epa-remedial-project-manager"> EPA is dredging the harbor</a>, a <a href="http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/" target="_blank">Superfund site</a> once called the &ldquo;world&rsquo;s worst PCB mess.&rdquo;</p><p>But PCB pollution continues long after its source is cut off. PCBs still find their way into the<a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/great-lakes"> Great Lakes</a> through a process called<a href="http://www.epa.gov/glindicators/air/airb.html"> atmospheric deposition</a>. They travel around the world through the atmosphere, falling out of the sky at high latitudes. That&rsquo;s why scientists have found high levels of the stuff in the Arctic, thousands of miles from the factories that pumped out PCBs in the 1970s.</p><p>At this point Hornshaw, the EPA toxicologist, says atmospheric deposition is probably the primary source of PCBs in the<a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/great-lakes"> Great Lakes</a>. He says there&rsquo;s a simple, one-word answer for what it will take for Lake Michigan fish to become safer for consumption.</p><p>&ldquo;Time,&rdquo; he says. Not 10 years, but less than 100. These chemicals take a long time to break down, but they&rsquo;re not invincible. Beth Murphy, who manages EPA&rsquo;s Great Lakes Fish Monitoring and Surveillance program, passed along this graphic showing PCB declines against a 1994-95 baseline (the red line):</p><p><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/trout%20chart.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="" /></p><p>The graph suggests that by 2035, assuming progress continues, you should be able to eat all the Great Lakes lake trout filets that you want without fear of PCBs.</p><p>Lake and river sediments are especially good at holding onto PCBs, so bottom-dwelling fish tend to have higher levels (hence the &ldquo;Do Not Eat&rdquo; advisory on carp and channel catfish in Lake Michigan). PCBs also accumulate in fatty tissues, so it&rsquo;s important to filet wild-caught fish properly before eating them.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/fish%20cutting.gif" style="float: left;" title="" /></p><p>PCBs aren&rsquo;t very soluble in water, so swimming isn&rsquo;t going to result in dangerous exposure.</p><p><strong>Getting the good stuff</strong></p><p>It turns out Captain Reiser&rsquo;s suspicion that government agencies were covering &ldquo;their own tail&rdquo; is correct.</p><p>&ldquo;The advisories may be overprotective for women beyond childbearing age and for adult men,&rdquo; reads<a href="http://www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/fishadvisory/fishadvisory_qa_pcb.htm"> an FAQ from the Illinois Department of Public Health</a>. That&rsquo;s especially true for<a href="http://www.epa.gov/hg/exposure.htm"> mercury &mdash; a potent pollutant found in fish from Lake Michigan and around the world</a>.</p><p>Fetuses, nursing babies and young children are especially vulnerable, so the advisories are drafted with a low tolerance for risk. Mercury can severely hinder development of the fetal nervous system. EPA found<a href="http://water.epa.gov/scitech/swguidance/fishshellfish/fishadvisories/technical.cfm#tabs-4"> mercury levels in women of childbearing age dropped 34 percent from a survey conducted in 1999-2000</a>, but it&rsquo;s still a concern.</p><p>But eating fish has a lot of health benefits, too, so long as you don&rsquo;t exceed the advisories. Eight Great Lakes states are two years into a study funded by the<a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/great-lakes"> Great Lakes</a> Restoration Initiative, weighing the benefits of eating fish against the risks. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re trying to come up with ways of incorporating the benefits of eating fish along with the deleterious effects,&rdquo; Hornshaw says, &ldquo;so we can have a more focused advisory.&rdquo;</p><p>Pat McCann, a fish advisory specialist with Minnesota&rsquo;s Department of Public Health says it&rsquo;s important to keep in mind the big picture.</p><p>&ldquo;The benefits do outweigh the risks if you eat fish that are low in contaminants,&rdquo; McCann says. &ldquo;So the challenge is to get people information about which fish are low in contaminants, and get it to them in a way that&rsquo;s understandable and that they can adopt in their normal life.&rdquo;</p><p>A lot of people swear off fish altogether, but McCann says that&rsquo;s actually counterproductive. Take the group of people most sensitive to mercury contamination: pregnant women. Mercury impairs neurological development in fetuses. But the McCann says that doesn&rsquo;t mean women should avoid all fish entirely.</p><p>&ldquo;Women of childbearing age and pregnant women need to eat fish, because fish have Omega-3 fatty acids, and other good nutrients, and it&rsquo;s a good source of protein,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;And so those things are good for the baby. So if they stop eating fish that&rsquo;s a negative thing.&rdquo;</p><p>Concentrations of mercury and PCBs are above guidelines for walleye and lake trout in all of the Great Lakes. Mercury levels were getting worse in Lakes Superior, Huron and Erie when <a href="http://binational.net/solec/sogl2011/sogl-2011-technical-report-en.pdf">EPA and Environment Canada released their 2011 &quot;State of the Great Lakes&quot; report</a>.</p><p><strong>Reeling it in</strong></p><p>One place you&rsquo;ll find Great Lakes fish on sale in Chicago is Market Fisheries at 7129 S. State St., in the<a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/greater-grand-crossing"> Greater Grand Crossing</a> neighborhood. They&rsquo;ve been owned and operated by the Brody Family since 1957.</p><p>Curtis Alexander, the market&rsquo;s manager, shows me around. The market&rsquo;s busy. People pull numbers and step up to order catfish or perch, while an employee behind the counter scales and hacks up fish.</p><p>Alexander says their suppliers are mostly based in Canada, so they don&rsquo;t sell Lake Michigan fish. But they&rsquo;ll gladly clean your catch.</p><p>&ldquo;A lot of time I clean fish that people go and catch from Lake Michigan,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;You got the yellow lake perch over there, you got the little bluegills, walleye pike, you know bigmouth bass &mdash; there&rsquo;s a lot of fish that they catch from Lake Michigan. People go fishing, they bring them in here, sometimes we clean it up for them.&rdquo;</p><p>No one brings in fresh-caught fish from Lake Michigan while I&rsquo;m there. But trout fishing season in Illinois starts April 5, and Alexander may have new customers soon. IDNR added four new areas for rainbow trout fishing this year, including Chicago&rsquo;s Wolf Lake&mdash;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/where-can-you-hunt-chicago-108954">one of two hunter-friendly oases in the city proper</a>.</p><p>Our question-asker, Steve Ediger, knows a few people who might take advantage of that new fishery. In an informal survey of his fishing friends, Ediger found that concerns over PCBs and mercury aren&rsquo;t deal-breakers for avid anglers.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ll tell you the one thing everybody says,&rdquo; Ediger says. &ldquo;They were less suspect of the fish they catch than the fish they get in the supermarket.&rdquo;</p><p>Mercury and PCB pollution are problems for fisheries all over the world &mdash; not just Lake Michigan. Clean-up efforts here have come a long way, but new pollutants could set us back. A BP refinery in Northwest Indiana <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-06-23/news/ct-met-bp-mercury-20130623_1_bp-refinery-whiting-refinery-oil-company-bp">came under fire last year</a> when it missed a federal deadline to put in place new pollution controls for mercury (state regulators gave them an exemption).</p><p>And if <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/asian-carp">the threat of invasive species like Asian carp</a> proves as devastating as some studies predict, Great Lakes fisheries could collapse whether or not we continue to clean up the water.</p><p>So, a corollary to Tom Hornshaw&rsquo;s one-word answer to our question: What will it take to make Lake Michigan fish safe to eat? Time, and our attention.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong><a name="addendum"></a>Addendum: other chemicals</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Mercury and PCBs are the major chemicals that Illinois&rsquo; state EPA tests for and regulates, but <a href="http://www.epa.gov/greatlakes/monitoring/fish/">there are other contaminants worth considering</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Many other chemicals meet the two main criteria for raising fish contaminant concerns: <a href="http://www.michigan.gov/mdch/0,1607,7-132-54783_54784_54785_54800-256866--,00.html">they&#39;re bioaccumulative and persistent</a>. That means they build up in the tissues of aquatic organisms, and they stick around. They can broadly be categorized by the term the EPA uses, &ldquo;<a href="http://www.epa.gov/international/toxics/pop.html">persistent organic pollutants</a>.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Besides mercury and PCBs, a few other common contaminants fit the bill: pesticides such as DDT, chlordane, and dieldrin; and dioxins, a carcinogenic group of chemicals created in the course of many industrial processes. (Dioxins are chemically similar to PCBs, which could themselves be counted under that blanket term.)</p><p dir="ltr">More recently, Great Lakes environmental agencies <a href="http://www.epa.gov/grtlakes/monitoring/fish/pbde.html">have tracked the dilution of another potentially harmful contaminant</a>. A group of flame retardant chemicals known as PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) were phased out starting in 2004. Measurements by Environment Canada <a href="http://www.epa.gov/grtlakes/monitoring/fish/pbde.html">show</a> declines in PBDE concentrations across the Great Lakes, including Lake Michigan, but Illinois EPA doesn&rsquo;t track PBDEs in fish. As toxicologist Tom Hornshaw explains, the reason isn&rsquo;t lack of concern &mdash; it&rsquo;s lack of funding.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Currently PBDEs are not addressed in our fish advisory program&mdash;our lab is not set up to do PBDEs and it would require purchase of an expensive piece of equipment to analyze for them,&rdquo; Hornshaw writes in an email.</p><p dir="ltr">It&rsquo;s important to note in this addendum that the chemicals we&rsquo;re phasing out now don&rsquo;t disappear immediately. That&rsquo;s why they call them persistent pollutants. PCBs, DDT and other chemicals in the Great Lakes are contaminants largely inherited from a time roughly 50 years ago. We have to wonder what legacy today&rsquo;s garbage will have on future Great Lakes residents.</p><p dir="ltr">Already <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/31/us-usa-pollution-greatlakes-idUSBRE96U03120130731">tiny plastic beads pose a threat</a> to fish health and environmental quality in the region.</p><p dir="ltr"><em><a href="http://cabentley.com/">Chris Bentley</a> is a reporter for WBEZ&rsquo;s Curious City, and a freelance journalist. Follow him on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/Cementley">@Cementley</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 04 Mar 2014 16:13:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/fish-and-risks-eating-lake-michigan-catch-109808 Chicago students help get fish spy camera underwater in Antarctica http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-students-help-get-fish-spy-camera-underwater-antarctica-107280 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Fish Spy 1_130520_LW.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The swimming pool at Lindblom Math and Science Academy in West Englewood is not exactly an arctic environment. But a group of Chicago students last week tested the warm waters with a fish spy camera vehicle designed to study Antarctic icefish. The goofy-looking icefish are some of the many species at the poles who could be at risk quickly-changing temperatures due to climate change.</p><p>The spy cam vehicle is basically a metal cage that will attach to a ship with a rope and chains and drag through deep waters. Science teacher Paula Dell will take the contraption south later this month to meet up with researchers through a national program called PolarTrec that links up science teachers with field researchers.</p><p>The four students got involved with the fish spy cam because they were part of ROV (remote-operated vehicle) club, and they all like making things and using power tools. But when the spy cam vehicle dropped quietly into the pool Thursday, they weren&rsquo;t happy with the result. It spun slowly through water; after some discussion, they decided it will need a rudder and started discussing materials.</p><h2><strong>Why spy on icefish?</strong></h2><p>Antarctic icefish have adapted in remarkable ways to living in some of the coldest water on earth. They have cute faces, huge eyes and smooth bodies, and they&rsquo;re all-white. They have white blood and oversized hearts and veins because of a genetic mutation that several million years ago caused the fish not to have any hemoglobin. That means they can&rsquo;t store much oxygen and have to be very efficient at using the oxygen available. They&rsquo;re fascinating examples of adaptation in a situation of both very harsh climate and perhaps unlucky genetics.</p><p>Life for the various species of icefish on thin ice, so to speak. The fish are particularly sensitive to warmth, and they&rsquo;ll need to adapt to rising global temperatures or potentially face extinction. Researchers Kristin O&rsquo;Brien and Elizabeth Crockett, who are already in Antarctica, are <a href="http://www.polartrec.com/expeditions/biology-of-antarctic-fishes-2013" target="_blank">exploring their capabilities for adaptation</a>. They&rsquo;re the ones who asked Dell to get her students involved in the spy cam.&nbsp;</p><p>The Lindblom students aren&rsquo;t the only ones in the Chicago area with Antarctic connections.</p><p>&ldquo;In the 25 years or so that I&rsquo;ve been going to Antarctica personally, I&rsquo;ve seen changes that have not been seen in previous generations,&rdquo; said Reed Scherer, a geologist at Northern Illinois University who studies Antarctica. He and a group from NIU were in Antarctica over the winter studying ice sheets and boring holes into an Antarctic lake far below the ice to take rare samples of the water. They&rsquo;re also working on a high-tech ROV to be used in Antarctic waters.</p><p>Scherer&rsquo;s research uses geological records to get a sense of earth&rsquo;s long term climate history, which in turn helps scientists understand the significance of shorter-term climate developments -- like, for example, a rise of over four degrees Fahrenheit in Antarctic temperatures since 1958.</p><p>&ldquo;You have to go back in some cases 3 million years to get to conditions that we&rsquo;re already starting to see again in the Antarctic in certain places,&rdquo; said Scherer. He says the sensitive Antarctic environment is a canary in the coal mine for global climate change. &ldquo;Changes that are taking place there, pretty much by definition are of global significance. Whereas a change that might take place around Chicago may be part of a cycle that&rsquo;s gonna change back and forth.&rdquo;</p><p>Back at Lindblom, 7th-grader Miguel Limon says he worries about the big picture, too.</p><p>&ldquo;Basically I think climate change is affecting everything,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Even the smallest temperature changes can affect the whole ecosystem.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Lewis Wallace is a Pritzker Journalism Fellow at WBEZ. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/lewispants" target="_blank">@lewispants</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 20 May 2013 16:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-students-help-get-fish-spy-camera-underwater-antarctica-107280 Chicago seafood shoppers duped by mislabeled fish http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/chicago-seafood-shoppers-duped-mislabeled-fish-105671 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F80271781&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Seafood fans in Chicago have a high chance of being cheated when they buy fish in restaurants and grocery stores. A <a href="http://oceana.org/sites/default/files/reports/National_Seafood_Fraud_Testing_Results_FINAL.pdf" target="_blank">new study</a> by Oceana, a national conservation group, found 32 percent of samples tested in Chicago were mislabeled as another fish entirely.</p><p>But Chicago fishmonger Dirk Fucik says the false fish sales are probably not entirely the fault of retailers or fishermen.</p><p>&ldquo;The fisherman who catches the actual fish is not really the one playing games, I don&rsquo;t think,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;If he catches a red snapper, he goes to shore and sells it as such. But then once it gets to a processor, or to a broker, somewhere in that range I think things get mismarked.&rdquo;</p><p>By the time a restaurant or grocery store gets the packaged and filleted fish, it&rsquo;s undergone a covert change of identity somewhere up the chain. Fucik gave the example of a Vietnamese catfish called basa or swai that&rsquo;s imported in large amounts into the U.S. every year.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;ve never seen that on a menu, I&rsquo;ll betcha,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;So that&rsquo;s getting used for something, somewhere. Mixed in with fish sandwiches or fish sticks, or whatever.&rdquo;</p><p>The study was neither random nor comprehensive. Volunteers sought out retailers that advertised fish species considered likely to be fakes based on previous cases or regional popularity, and the sample pools focused heavily on those types.</p><p>The two-year project analyzed the DNA of the purchased samples and found that a full 33 percent of the specimens were sold under a false name. Snapper was a scam in 87 percent of the samples, and 59 percent of tuna was actually another fish.&nbsp;</p><p>Fucik thinks high-end markets like his are less likely to fall into a counterfeit fish situation, because they tend to know more about their fish and it doesn&rsquo;t usually come tightly packaged.</p><p>&ldquo;I like to buy everything whole, because then you know exactly the species of fish you&rsquo;re buying,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>If anything is suspicious, he sends it back.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS7044_043-scr.JPG" style="height: 518px; width: 690px;" title="If something sold as a red snapper actually looks like this tilefish, Dirk Fucik says, be suspicious. (WBEZ/Lewis Wallace)" /></p><p>&ldquo;If you know what you&rsquo;re doing, hopefully you don&rsquo;t get duped,&rdquo; Fucik said.</p><p>Chicago was noted in the study for its &ldquo;unusual seafood substitutions.&rdquo; In one case, a fish sold as Alaskan cod turned out to be the charmingly-named threadfin slickhead, a fish not even known to be sold in the U.S. And while most red snapper scams substitute rockfish and tilapia, two Chicago grocery stores were peddling the far less common goldbanded jobfish and slender pinjalo as red snapper.<br /><br />Sushi venues had the highest incidence of mislabeling at a whopping 74 percent, although the total number of sushi sellers surveyed was far less than restaurants or retailers. But in the 118 sushi outlets tested, 92 percent of the fish sold as snapper and 71 percent of the so-called tuna were mislabeled specimens of other fish.</p><p>Mislabeling can mean feeling ripped off, but it can also be dangerous for those with allergies and mislead shoppers trying to pick out sustainably harvested or low-mercury fish products. Oceana, the study&rsquo;s publisher, says seafood should be traceable, and argues that current laws for seafood inspection should be more stringently enforced.</p><p>For now, the implications for the consumer are cloudy. Fucik says the best way for the fish purchaser to get to know their product is to ask questions - but if you ask whether your sashimi is actually make with snapper, you&rsquo;ll almost definitely get a yes.</p><p>And taste tests are mostly a dead end, too. Even he can have trouble telling one filet from another in many cases of substitution, and he&rsquo;s been in the business for forty years.</p><p>People who want to stay on top of their fish-shopping game can do themselves a favor by favoring fresh fish markets that sell whole fish. And if you&rsquo;re trying to go upscale with your purchases, check out average prices and ask questions if a fish product seems to be cheaper than what it should be.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS7043_036-scr.JPG" style="height: 518px; width: 690px;" title="Red snapper is red. (WBEZ/Lewis Wallace)" /></p><p>Finally, Fucik strongly recommended looking out for &ldquo;tuna&rdquo; that&rsquo;s white in color when it&rsquo;s raw; there&rsquo;s no such thing, he said, as actual &ldquo;white tuna&rdquo;.</p><p>The canned stuff has been cooked, but it used to be pink. If it&rsquo;s white and it&rsquo;s raw it could be escolar, also known as oilfish.</p><p>Escolar has a special effect on digestion that Fucik compares to the cleansing effects of <a href="http://ex-lax.com/" target="_blank">Ex-Lax</a>, and it&rsquo;s already banned in Japan and Italy for the gastrointestinal problems it can cause.</p><p>Next up in fish troubles: Frankenfish. (That&rsquo;s the derisive name for <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Health/genetically-modified-frankenfish-nears-fda-approval-debate-heats/story?id=18078157" target="_blank">genetically modified salmon</a> that&rsquo;s swimming closer to FDA approval as we speak.)</p><p>And in case you haven&rsquo;t had enough seafood malaise for the day, WBEZ&rsquo;s food blogger Louisa Chu will be with us soon to reflect on what her <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2012-08/waste-not-nose-tail-fin-101973" target="_blank">fishing trip in Alaska</a> taught her about the fish supply chain - and all the ways it can go wrong.</p><p>Follow <a href="https://twitter.com/LewisPants" target="_blank">Lewis Wallace on Twitter.</a></p></p> Thu, 21 Feb 2013 16:41:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/chicago-seafood-shoppers-duped-mislabeled-fish-105671 Tuna’s marketing masterpiece http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/tuna%E2%80%99s-marketing-masterpiece-104395 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/tuna%20flickr%20Genista_0.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="Tuna: The what of the what? (Flickr/Genista)" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F71268301" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Americans eat a lot of tuna.</p><p>In 2011 we ate 2.6 pounds of tuna per person, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service. That&rsquo;s not much when compared to the amount of chicken we ate last year &ndash; 84.2 lbs. per capita according to the National Chicken Council &ndash; but it&rsquo;s more than clams, cod, crab and catfish combined, and more than any other fish except for shrimp. &nbsp;</p><p>Still, not only do we eat less tuna than say, chicken, we eat a lot less tuna than we used to; in 2000 Americans ate almost a pound more per capita. And according to author Andy Smith, &ldquo;There is no evidence that Americans consumed tuna prior to the 20th century.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;That shocked me,&rdquo; said Smith, a noted food writer whose books include histories of the hamburger, the potato and popcorn. &ldquo;And I wanted to know why.&rdquo;</p><p>Smith&rsquo;s curiosity led to another book, <em>American Tuna: The Rise and Fall of an Improbable Fish</em>. In it he traces tuna&rsquo;s U.S. origins to California canneries in 1903. Then, tuna was a niche product. You might have tasted it if you were an Italian immigrant with a more rarified palate, Smith said. But the oily fish tasted funny and was otherwise unfamiliar to most Americans.</p><p>So how is it that within five years tuna went from an unknown player to, as Smith put it, &ldquo;one of America&rsquo;s most important sea foods?&rdquo;</p><p>Smith said that World War I played a big part. Beef was scarce, so civilians turned to canned foods, and the U.S. government bought tuna to feed the troops. It made its way to our allies in Britain and France via ships passing through the Panama Canal.</p><p>But that&rsquo;s not all: According to Smith, the tuna industry in America launched a PR campaign so brilliant and so ubiquitous, you may not even know it was once a catchy advertising slogan. (No, I don&rsquo;t mean last year&rsquo;s limpid <a href="http://www.seafoodsource.com/newsarticledetail.aspx?id=9799">&ldquo;Tuna the Wonderfish!&rdquo; campaign</a>.) &nbsp;</p><p>Hear Smith describe the brilliant marketing move that made tuna a routine part of our casseroles in the audio above.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range">Dynamic Range</a></em>&nbsp;<em>showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Andy Smith spoke at an event presented by Culinary Historians of Chicago in November. Click</em>&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/american-tuna%E2%80%A6-and-drinking-doubleheader-104008">here</a></em>&nbsp;<em>to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p></p> Sat, 15 Dec 2012 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/tuna%E2%80%99s-marketing-masterpiece-104395 Meet the most venomous fish (and some other cool critters) http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/2011-09-21/meet-most-venomous-fish-and-some-other-cool-critters-92301 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-September/2011-09-21/WEB fish head.png" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="The Reef Stonefish has a face for radio (WBEZ/Gabriel Spitzer)" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-21/WEB%20fish%20head.png" title="The Reef Stonefish has a face for radio (WBEZ/Gabriel Spitzer)" height="393" width="500"></p><p>In last week’s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/2011-09-13/clever-apes-18-biological-weapons-91950">episode</a>, we talked to <font color="#0000ff"><a href="http://homepage.mac.com/wmleosmith/">Leo Smith</a></font> about his work with venomous fish and the promise they may hold for medical science. It turns out that there are more venomous fish than any other kind of animal, far more than snakes and scorpions combined. One particularly nasty one is the <font color="#0000ff"><a href="http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=5825&amp;genusname=Synanceia&amp;speciesname=verrucosa&amp;AT=synanceia+verrucosa%E3%80%88=English">Reef Stonefish</a></font>. He is an ugly and supposedly delicious species that holds the distinction of being the world’s most venomous fish.</p><p>Smith introduced us to the Stonefish during our visit to the “wet lab” at the Field Museum. Listen below:</p><p style="margin-bottom: 0in;">&nbsp;</p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332483727-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/sites/default/files/reeffish.mp3">&nbsp;</audio><p style="margin-bottom: 0in;">To see what a Reef Stonefish looks like alive, check out these <a href="http://australianmuseum.net.au/image/Reef-Stonefish-at-Baldwins-Bommie/">photos</a> and <a href="http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/Summary/videos.php?speccode=5825">videos</a>.</p><p style="margin-bottom: 0in; text-align: center;"><img alt="The Reef Stonefish's venomous spine (Courtesy of Leo Smith)" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-21/WEB%20fish%20spine%20closeup.png" title="The Reef Stonefish's venomous spine (Courtesy of Leo Smith)" height="375" width="500"></p><p style="margin-bottom: 0in;">Smith has led a comprehensive study that is greatly expanding the number of known venomous fish. In the extended version of our interview, he explains that venom traits evolved in fish not just once but possibly as many as 14 times. He expects that when they are done, fish will represent two-thirds of all venomous creatures. Listen below:</p><p>&nbsp;</p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332483727-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/sites/default/files/Fish%20venom%20extended%20interview.mp3">&nbsp;</audio><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Leo Smith holding a Pelican Eel in the way it would likely be seen in the wild (" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-21/WEB%20eel-ish%20thing.png" title="Leo Smith holding a Pelican Eel in the way it would likely be seen in the wild (WBEZ/Gabriel Spitzer)" height="341" width="500"></p><p>In addition to the venomous specimens in the lab, Smith also showed off some of the other interesting sea life in the collection. Above, he holds up a <a href="http://www.fishbase.us/summary/speciessummary.php?id=4526">Pelican Eel</a>. These guys live more than a half mile deep in the oceans where it is extremely cold and dark. They have two very neat features: the large pelican-like mouth you can see pretty clearly above and a <a href="http://www.seasky.org/deep-sea/biolumiscence.html">bioluminescent</a> organ in the tail that glows in the dark to attract prey. &nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Smith displays the Coelacanth, a living fossil (WBEZ/Gabriel Spitzer)" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-21/WEB%20big%20fish%20tank.png" title="Smith displays the Coelacanth, a living fossil (WBEZ/Gabriel Spitzer)" height="367" width="500"></p><p>The specimen in that big vat is a <a href="http://www.fishbase.us/Summary/SpeciesSummary.php?ID=2063&amp;AT=coelacanth">Coelacanth</a>. It was thought to have gone extinct 80 million years ago, until a researcher discovered one in 1938. The Coelacanth is considered a “missing link” between fish and amphibians. Smith says that they are more closely related to amphibians and to us than they are to other fishes. They are interesting from an evolutionary standpoint because they have lobed fins. This means that they basically have a shoulder and are “on their way” to having arms and legs.</p></p> Wed, 21 Sep 2011 21:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/2011-09-21/meet-most-venomous-fish-and-some-other-cool-critters-92301 Electric barrier, last line against invasive species http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-06-21/electric-barrier-last-line-against-invasive-species-88123 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//frontandcenter/photo/2011-06-21/88123/P1020240.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>In connecting the Great Lake Michigan to the Mighty Mississippi, Chicago left the back door open to some unwelcome visitors. Asian Carp are the latest threat and our last line of defense spans the Sanitary and Ship Canal,&nbsp;about 30 miles southwest of the city. WBEZ’s Gabriel Spitzer visited the electric barriers there.&nbsp; In this report he explains how engineers are trying to hold the line against the fish.</p></p> Tue, 21 Jun 2011 15:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-06-21/electric-barrier-last-line-against-invasive-species-88123