In China, Salmon is Salmon, Even if It’s Trout

Fish Monger - Metra Market

The New York Times reports:

At issue for many is where the two fish swim. Most Asian salmon spend the bulk of their lives in saltwater. Rainbow trout are often cultivated in water tanks or ponds, which could expose them to freshwater parasites that could infect humans if the fish is eaten raw. The United States Food and Drug Administration warns of potential parasite hazards from eating freshwater fish. In Hong Kong, a Chinese city that operates under its own laws, serving freshwater fish raw is illegal.

“It’s not only the issue of rainbow trout being substituted for salmon, but whether freshwater fish should be used for sashimi at all,” Dr. Kevin Kwok, an assistant professor in the department of applied biology and chemical technology at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, said.

Fish is often mislabeled around the world in order to fetch higher prices, such as labeling yellowtail as mahi mahi or sea bass as halibut. Regulators in the United States label these substitutions as economic deception.

That goes for salmon, too. Officials in the United States forbid fish sellers from labeling steelhead trout — essentially, rainbow trout that swim in saltwater — as salmon. Generally, salmon spawn in freshwater but return to the sea.

(click here to continue reading In China, Salmon is Salmon, Even if It’s Trout – The New York Times.)

I wouldn’t be surprised if this and similar substitution happens frequently in the US as well. Budgets of regulatory agencies have been sliced over the last decade, so who really monitors what kind of fish gets delivered to restaurants?

Salmon House Caretakers Residence

You Are Part of Everything was uploaded to Flickr

minnows, Lake Michigan

embiggen by clicking

I took You Are Part of Everything on May 23, 2015 at 05:45PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on June 26, 2015 at 03:26PM

Death by Halibut


Cecil Adams says yes, yes you can be killed by a halibut…

You should fear the halibut just the same, as one would rightly fear anything that’s huge, powerfully muscled, and prone to thrashing when pulled into your boat. Some halibut weigh more than 400 pounds and have to be killed by beating them over the head with a club. This is best done surreptitiously. If instead you do it on your reality TV show like Sarah Palin before the shocked eyes of animal rights activists, you’re going to take some heat.

Native Americans, now, they understood halibut. The Tsimshian tribe of the Pacific Northwest has a tale of a monster halibut that ate an entire canoe, along with the prince and two princesses who were aboard. Bent on revenge, a two-man suicide team paddled out to face it and also got eaten. However, they succeeded in gutting the fish from the inside before expiring, ultimately resulting in the giant halibut dying too. So, just like the ending of Hamlet, only with a fish.

As for the tragic tale recounted above, it’s no fish story. In August 1973 the Juneau Empire reported that a solitary Alaska fisherman had indeed been killed by a halibut. Joseph T. Cash, 67, caught a 150-pound specimen near Kupreanof Island and succeeded in hauling it aboard. In the process, though, the flailing fish evidently broke his leg, severing an artery and sending Cash crashing to the deck, cracking three ribs. Though mortally injured, the stubborn fisherman managed to lash himself to the boat’s winch to avoid falling overboard. He was later found there when the boat washed ashore — and by God, he still had his fish.

This incident illustrates a stark fact: halibut fishing is dangerous. Commercial fishing in general is one of the riskiest occupations in the country, with a death rate 32 times the average for U.S. workers. Crab and other shellfish are the most dangerous critters to go after, as fans of the Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch may know — Alaska shell fishermen perish at more than 90 times the U.S. rate.

(click here to continue reading The Straight Dope: Is there such a thing as death by halibut?.)


Step Forward for Genetically Engineered Salmon

Catch Anything?

Follow up on the AquaBounty Frankenfish FDA hearing held yesterday…

Still some panel members did say the studies the F.D.A. relied on to reach its own conclusion that the salmon would be safe were flawed, often using only a few dozen fish or even fewer.

“I do get heartburn when we’re going to allow post-market surveillance to finalize our safety evaluation,” said one committee member, Michael D. Apley, a pharmacology expert at Kansas State University.

The criticisms could add to the time needed to approve the salmon. It could also provide grist for consumer and environmental groups, many of which testified on Monday that the salmon should not be approved.

Approval of the salmon could pave the way for other such biotech animals to enter the food supply, like a pig developed in Canada that has more environmentally friendly manure.

(click to continue reading Step Forward for Genetically Engineered Salmon –

Fish head surprise

Humanity has been modifying food since agriculture was invented, but grafting apple saplings or breeding milk cows is not quite the same as modern techniques. It could be absolutely harmless, but I don’t see the need to rush the salmon to market without conducting comprehensive, exhaustive tests. Especially because the reality of a laboratory is much different than the reality of a factory farm, especially after a decade of production.

The company said that fish would not escape because they are grown inland in facilities with containment mechanisms. If any did escape, it said, the rivers outside the Canadian and Panama facilities would be too salty or warm for the fish to survive. And the fish would all be female and almost all would be sterile, so they would not interbreed with wild salmon.

But some committee members, as well as some environmental groups, said the government’s environmental assessment should evaluate what would happen if the salmon were grown widely in many facilities.

“The F.D.A. must consider issues related to realistic production scenarios,” said Anna Zivian, a senior manager at the group Ocean Conservancy.

One test showed a possible increase in the potential to cause allergic reactions that was almost statistically significant even though only six fish were used in each group in the study.

More tests please…

Toothless FDA Nibble on Frankenfish

Unlabeled genetically engineered salmon: such a crowd pleaser that the FDA is working overtime to change the subject and make excuses, and the AquaBounty “fish” isn’t even on the market yet. Too bad we don’t have any regulatory agencies that are concerned with public opinion, and public safety.

Fresh Copper River Sockeye Salmon

The FDA’s apparent readiness to approve the AquaBounty salmon has inflamed a coalition of consumer, environmental, animal welfare and fishing groups, who have accused the agency of basing its judgment on data compiled from small samples supplied by the company, rushing the public portion of the review process and disclosing insufficient information about the fish.

The FDA does not have an approval process designed specifically for genetically engineered animals and is evaluating the salmon under the process used for new veterinary drugs. That means that much of the data provided to FDA to demonstrate the safety of the fish is considered a trade secret.

The process doesn’t allow enough public participation, doesn’t give the FDA enough leeway to consider environmental factors and doesn’t give the agency enough power to withdraw the salmon from the market if something should go wrong, said Greg Jaffe, director of the Biotechnology Project for the Center for Science in the Public Interest and a member of the FDA advisory committee that will evaluate the agency’s findings.

(click to continue reading FDA advisors to vote on genetically engineered salmon –

So is this frankenfish safe to eat or not? I couldn’t tell you, but I’d sure like the FDA to conduct more tests instead of rushing this beast to market.

Fishy Fishy Fish

Wild caught Sardines

Wild caught Sardines
Wild caught Sardines, originally uploaded by swanksalot.

From Greece, no less. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch them myself.

Shot with my Hipstamatic for iPhone
Lens: John S
Film: Float
Flash: Off


didn’t try them, this time. Maybe at some future moment, feeling adventurous.

Reading Around on November 15th through November 18th

A few interesting links collected November 15th through November 18th:

  • Apocalypse Now /Redux :: :: Reviews – In a note released with the film, Coppola emphasizes that this new material was not simply shoehorned into the original version of the film, but that “Redux” is “a new rendition of the movie from scratch.” He and his longtime editor Walter Murch “re-edited the film from the original unedited raw footage — the dailies,” he says, and so possibly even some of the shots that look familiar to us are different takes than the ones we saw before.
  • Smithsonian: Making Sense of Sustainable Seafood | Food & Think – Chilean seabass from Whole Foods, courtesy Flickr user swanksalot
  • Patagonia Toothfish

  • I’m Belle de Jour – Times Online – Revealed: the woman behind the Belle de Jour blog

    She’s real, all right, and I’m sitting on the bed next to her. Her name is Dr Brooke Magnanti. Her specialist areas are developmental neurotoxicology and cancer epidemiology. She has a PhD in informatics, epidemiology and forensic science and is now working at the Bristol Initiative for Research of Child Health. She is part of a team researching the effects of exposure to the pesticide chlorpyrifos on foetuses and infants.

    From 2003 to late 2004, Brooke worked as a prostitute via a London escort agency; she started blogging as Belle de Jour — after the Buñuel film starring Catherine Deneuve as a well-to-do housewife who has sex for money because she’s bored — shortly into her career as a call girl, after an incident she thought funny enough to write down.