Cathrine Fox: Issue Thirteen: Walleye Pollock Status Page

NOAA TEACHER AT SEA
CATHRINE PRENOT FOX
NOAA SHIP OSCAR DYSON
JULY 24 – AUGUST 14, 2011


Personal Log:
I have not always had the best morals when it came to eating seafood. I discovered the joys of sushi in San Francisco after I graduated college. There was one place that I would frequent so often that the sushi chefs would would create something for me when I walked through the door. I later learned from Ruth Reichl in her book Garlic and Sapphires that the phrase I was looking for was “Omakase.” Literally: I am in your hands. In their capable hands I tried unagi (eel), hon maguro (bluefin tuna), and hamachi (yellowtail) for the first time. And I fell in love.

A few years later, a friend mentioned to me that I might want to moderate my adoration of some fish. Never one to take someone else’s word, I did my own research. I read, with growing horror, that my delicious eel farms were not sustainable, and that bluefin tuna was declining worldwide. Evidently, there were so many others that shared my love of the cool simple taste of hon maguro that we were loving these and other species to death. I know, you probably don’t want to take my word for it. Do your own research and then come back: FishWatch and SeaFoodWatch.

Back? Did you see that Yellowfin tuna are being sustainably harvested? Yes, me too. One order of hamachi sashimi, please.

What is my point with all of this? I want to show you what data are used to make these determinations about sustainability. I assure you, it is not random or haphazard. In fact, the purpose of my time in Alaska was to provide data to fisheries managers (composed of teams of fishermen, scientists, and officials) to let them make educated decisions on the health of walleye pollock populations in the Gulf of Alaska. What data do we collect? How do we know what the fish are doing, and how many there are? It isn’t an easy job… there is no Walleye Pollock Facebook Status Page that you can just check… (Cartoon citations 1, 2, and 3). You have to get dirty and do some real science.

Adventures in a Blue World, Issue 13
Adventures in a Blue World, Issue 13

Until our next adventure,

Cat

Walleye Pollock age classes.
Walleye Pollock age classes.

p.s. Although my “real job” has severely impacted the amount of time I have to cartoon, I am still working on at least two more (and up to seven, if I find a way to get a hold of a Time-Turnerlike Hermione Granger) cartoons. Thank you for being patient!

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