Geoff Goodenow, May 22, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Geoff Goodenow
Onboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette

May 2 – 25, 2004

Mission: Swordfish Assessment Survey
Geographical Area:
Hawaiian Islands
May 22, 2004

Time: 1600

Lat: 19 24 N
Long: 156 53 W
Sky: Sunny this morning, but brightly overcast at the moment. Clear this evening.
Air temp: 26.5 C
Barometer: 1015.1
Relative humidity: 59.9%
Wind: 144 degrees at 6 knots
Sea temp: 26.7 C
Depth: 3810.4 m

Science and Technology Log

Even with our normal start time today we were able to get to our one broadbill swordfish in time to tag and release it. we had a new species on — a 176 cm blue marlin (   ). It looked as though it had been attacked by sharks while on the line. We were also able to tag an oceanic whitetip shark. Also for the first time on the longline we had a shortbill spearfish. The rest of the catch was rounded out by the regular cast of characters: 3 escolar, a snake mackeral, one great barracuda and one mahi mahi.

We trolled lines up to 40 miles away from the big island today but nothing grabbed the lures. Tonight we are setting again offshore of Kona, perhaps 25 miles out (not sure).

A chapter in Wilson’s book and some comments made by Kirsten and Mike a couple days ago are the motivation for this part of today’s log. Should we be looking for ways of expanding aquaculture and reducing our dependence on wild stocks to provide fish protein? Wilson in Diversity of Life (1992) states that 90% of fish consumed worldwide is taken from wild stocks. He further states that while about 300 finfish species are cultured throughout the world, 85% of the yield comes from just a few species, talapias, for example.

Kerstin told me of the southern blue fin tuna, a highly prized species, whose numbers crashed due to overfishing in the 1950’s and 60’s. A moratorium on taking the species was imposed and resulted in an increase in the wild stocks. Now quotas are set to protect the species. Australia meets its quota by capturing animals then towing them live to ocean pens at Port Lincoln. The pens are roughly 40 meters in diameter and 15-20 meters deep with about 2000 fish per enclosure. There the animals are fed a diet of fish over 3-4 months that brings their flesh to a desired quality. Of course, this demands harvesting many tons of feeder fish (from the wild) to support the pen raised stock.

In America and elsewhere we have turned from wild stocks of animals to support our numbers. We raise chickens, pigs, cattle and sheep to provide most of our meat. Hunting of wild game is reduced to controlled recreational seasons designed to protect those resources. Should we be doing much the same for more species of ocean fishes, that is, develop methods to economically raise several desired species and greatly reduce our take from wild stocks? Should some receive total protection?

Check out the question section below for some reading about certain aspects of the issues then decide what you think about the concerns raised.

Personal Log

The doc lanced my finger today and I’m still on the antibiotic and hot water soak routine. Feeling kind of sluggish today and appetite is not quite up to my norm; probably effects of antibiotic.

Sky cleared nicely before sunset providing a clear horizon and our first green flash in many days.

Hope to sit out the line set tonight and perhaps just take in a movie.


In the June 9, 2003 issue of U.S. News and World Report is an article titled “Fished Out” in which the state of oceanic fish populations is discussed. What is you reaction to the article?

On page 40, there is a reference to a report by scientists Myers and Worm. Rich and Mike have told me that there have been several rebuttals to the Myers and Worm report noting flaws in their methods and conclusions. Find such an article then rethink your attitude toward the US news and World Report article and issues raised above.


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