Do you know your seafood?

With the holidays right around the corner there will no doubt be plenty of indulgences. It is important to keep in mind that seafood can also be considered an extravagance if you’re choosing an unsustainable option to serve or taste. Did you know that the global fishing fleet can catch up to two and a half times what the ocean produces? 80% of fish stocks are harvested at or above maximum sustainable yield? Check out this infographic by One World One Ocean that was released last month for National Seafood Month  for those facts and a whole lot more, including 1) fish on the red list (not good) and green list (good), 2) reasons why these fish are on these lists, 3) chefs and grocers to support, and 4) important guides to download.

From 'One World One Ocean'

From ‘One World One Ocean’

What they’re into … with Braddock Spear (Sustainable Fisheries Partnership)

It’s Tuesday and so I am sure you know by now, but this is a series I have been featuring each Tuesday this summer to get a special sneak peek at the different personalities behind the scientists, activists, and educators (including bloggers) who play an integral role in the marine science conservation field. It’s essentially an extension of the overwhelmingly popular and well done Tumblr blog, This Is What A Scientist Looks Like, (BCS was featured in April!) which sets out to illustrate that scientists are not just crazy haired nerds in lab coats. I’ve sent a list of 15 random questions to some folks I know and asked that each person share at least their answers to 5 of them. Here you find the weird preferred smells among other things of Braddock Spear from the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership.

Braddock Spear is Deputy Director of the Improvements Division at the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) and has worked there for the last 18 months trying to improve fisheries around the globe. For 8 years before SFP, he worked at the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission ending his tenure as Senior Coordinator for Policy and having coordinated fisheries management of horseshoe crabs, northern shrimp, and Atlantic menhaden. Also before joining SFP, Braddock blogged on the sustainable seafood movement at Sustainable Ocean Project. The site is no longer updated with new content, but all past posts are still there for the reading. Braddock received a BS in Marine Biology from the University of Maryland and a MA in Marine Affairs from the University of Rhode Island.

What is the last thing you bought that you shouldn’t have?
A ticket to Vegas. I’ll be saving my pennies til I go.

What is your favorite fruit flavor?
Mango! I was spoiled in Belize when I got fresh mango from my host family’s tree every morning.

What is your favorite Sunday breakfast?
A coffee and a scone at the Baltimore farmers market.

What is your favorite scent?
Gasoline and cigar smoke are two of my favorites. Though not too much of either and definitely not together.

How superstitious are you?
Not at all. I’ve walked under lots of ladders, broken a few mirrors, and had a black cat. Despite all that, I’d say my luck has been pretty good (hoping that continues in Vegas).

Bonus random fact:
I’ve recently become a big fan of street art. If you’re interested, check out:

Thank you for participating, Braddock! It was great to hear from you (Braddock is an old co-worker on mine). Have a great time in Vegas!

Don’t forget to read the rest of the “What they’re into …” series.

12 good non-fiction books about fish

  1. Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food by Paul Greenburg (read a review here.)
  2. Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky
  3. On the Run: An Angler’s Journey Down the Striper Coast by David Dibendetto
  4. Giant Bluefin by Douglas Whynott
  5. The Last Fish Tale: The Fate of the Atlantic and Survival in Gloucester, America’s Oldest Fishing Port and Most Original Town by Mark Kurlansky
  6. The Unnatural History of the Sea by Callum Roberts
  7. Tuna: A Love Story by Robert Ellis
  8. The Most Important Fish in the Sea: Menhaden and America: H. Bruce Franklin
  9. The End of the Line: How Overfishing Is Changing the World and What We Eat by Charles Clover
  10. The Empty Ocean by Richard Ellis
  11. 5 Easy Pieces: The Impact of Fisheries on Marine Ecosystems by Daniel Pauly
  12. Striper Wars: An American Fish Story by Dick Russell

Beach Chair Scientist also has list of great movies, fiction books and blogs about the sea!

Image (c) Island Press.

Can you tell how old a fish is by looking at it?

fishscaleagerings1There is one possible way to tell how old a fish is while it’s still alive. And, at that, – it’s pretty invasive. You need to take some of its scales (see image).

The scales are similar to the rings of a tree. Depending on how many dark rings you may see (if you were to hold the scale up to a light source) it will determine the age of the fish. However, since scales can regenerate often, the rings could be cloudy and difficult to decipher.  You can get a more accurate age of a fish by other methods which require the fish to be dead. These include reading the rings on the cross-section of a fish ear bone (otolith) or fin ray.

Knowing the age of a fish is very important for understanding how to maintain populations and stocks for fisheries management.

Image (c)

Do you have another great question? Email us at and let us know.