The World is Their Pearl Oyster

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Australian South Sea Pearling Industry is innovative, re-emergent and is embracing the rarity of Australian South Sea Pearls.

Over the weekend (12 November 2016) the Wall Street Journal ran the story on its website For Australia’s Pearl Farmers, the Wild Is Their Oyster.

The story (written by WSJ journalist Vera Sprothen) that charters the journey of the pearling industry over the past few years, and with a point of view that is both refreshing and rare, celebrates quality and rarity in favour of quantity and mass production:

wsj-pearls

The WSJ website also features a video that supplements the story above (click here to view it):

The video is high quality and augmented with footage from the recent National Geographic/Paspaley production “The Secret Life of Pearls.” Again it refreshingly provides some welcomed clarity with respect to an industry that isn’t well know. What is more it provides some astonishing truths about the industry in a global context:

Australia is the last place in the world where pearls are cultured in wild oysters. They are handpicked from the ocean floor by divers…”

In the last few years china has taken over the global market with cheap mass produced freshwater pearls. A single mussel, often cultivated in flooded rice paddies, can yield as many as 50 pearls, whereas a[n Australian] south sea oyster grows just one.”

Experts say that the quality of cheap pearls is proving every year. However, unlike [Australian] south sea pearls, the Chinese ones are irregularly shaped and bleached with chemicals to give them a white gloss.”

[I note that with respect to pearl quality and rarity, one chinese pearl jewellery producer points out in the video when referring to a pearl strand: “This is a big size south sea pearl from Australia. This is the perfect pearl. In every piece the colours match, the surface is very clean and the size is very big.

The video notes a sea-change in approaches by the Australian pearling industry.  The industry is innovating and branching out into the ability for consumers to feel the pearling experience, to bring the consumer closer even insofar as they can see the “grunt behind the glamour.”  The Australian Industry is also embracing their demonstrable sustainability, their harvest of wild oysters by hand, their gentle touch and minimal interaction with the environment and the harmony that is created between the pearl producer and the untamed waters of the Kimberley which is perfectly encapsulated in an Australian South Sea Pearl.

Personally I enjoyed the story. I look forward to the Australian South Sea Pearling Industry to continue to make their global mark.

“All the Glistens is not Gold”: In a World first Australian South Sea Pearls to undergo Assessment against the MSC Standard

 I note that they [the Australian Pearling Industry] are due for Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification – which would certainly make Australian South Sea Pearls the ethical and responsible environmental choice … and make rare Australian pearls rarer still.

 

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9 reasons why we should eat more fish

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I just read in the Executive Living section of Saturday’s Australian that we should be eating more fish.

Well I have know this for awhile 🙂

But given the disposition of most periodicals with respect to seafood I almost fell over to see it in print.

But I have to agree.

Seafood is a super food. It has no preservatives, emulsifiers, colours, acidity regulators or other dubious additives (it is simply ‘what you see is what you get’). Seafood contains all sorts of proteins and minerals that our bodies just love and can’t get from other food sources efficiently. And what’s more the harvest of seafood requires less environmental modification that organic vegetables, and free range livestock. And unlike the fishstocks of the late 1980s and early 1990’s, domestic fishstocks are increasingly meticulously managed as are the effects of harvest on the environment…

But instead of providing you with some personal declamation on the benefits of of fruits de Mer; I have included a rather more refined discourse from the Australian’s food editor ‘s entitled 9 reasons why we should eat more fish:

[…]

1. Get With the Strength: Fish is the world’s most traded protein, and it’s twice the size of the coffee trade. It had an estimated export value of $US136 billion last year, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. And it will be even more important in future. As World Aquaculture Society president Graham Mair points out, by the end of this century we will need to produce the same amount of food as we produced in the past 10,000 years, so aquaculture will be pivotal to global food security.

2. Health: Yes, of course you already knew fish is good for you. Just how good? Have a look at the accompanying graph, published earlier this month in a report by the High Level Panel of Experts to the UN Committee on World Food Security: the case for obtaining your essential omega-3 fatty acids from fish just keeps getting stronger (and, yes, the authors say it is indeed correct that the level of iron in beef is lower than in most fish, particularly small freshwater fish). At the same time, in light of increasing evidence of neurodevelopmental benefits from eating fish, the US Food and Drug Administration has revised its dietary recommendations to encourage pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and young children to eat more of it — two to three servings a week — from choices low in mercury.

3. We were meant to eat it: Remember Sam Neill in those red meat ads? Well, sorry Sam, but it was the Neanderthals who ate lots of red meat. Modern humans became modern by eating lots of oysters, mussels and fish (paleo nuts, take note). As a Scientific American article, “When the Sea Saved Humanity”, reveals, when the number of breeding humans crashed to about 600 in five locations across Africa, it was seafood and root vegetables that helped us survive, not steak.

4. It tastes better: Of course, we’d all like to eat wild fish that jumped into the boat on a longline shortly before hitting our plates. We’re dreaming, mostly. Fact is, thanks to advances in aquaculture combined with a more focused approach to eating quality, the best farmed fish in Australia is emulating those desirable wild-caught characteristics of flavour and texture. (See breakout.)

5. Dementia prevention: In Don’t Miss the Bus, a new book drawing on the latest findings in neuroscience from the University of California, South Australian author Rex J. Lipman names a list of a dozen “Gold Medal” food groups vital to maintaining brain health and preventing dementia and Alzheimer’s. The only animal products on the list are fish — specifically salmon, trout and sardines — and dairy foods.

6. Weight loss: Seafood can help tackle the global obesity crisis, says health writer Martin Bowerman, author of Lean Forever: The Scientific Secrets of Permanent Weight Loss. Speaking at World Aquaculture Adelaide, Bowerman said fish provided more protein for comparably lower calorie intake than other meats and this “calorie efficiency” was key to a high-protein weight-loss diet.

7. The Price of Fish: Yes, I too have seen King George whiting at up to $84 a kilogram at my local market. But fish doesn’t have to be just a Good Friday luxury. Ask your fishmonger for these delicious, underrated, affordable species, among others: sardines, blue mussels, banana prawns, albacore tuna, pink snapper and eastern school whiting.

8. Sustainability: While all farmed animals need to be fed, aquaculture represents the most efficient method by which to convert feed to edible protein. And some species, such as the molluscs, oysters and mussels, do not need to be fed at all.

9. It will help you live longer: In a recent report prepared for Canada’s aquaculture industry, How Higher Seafood Consumption Can Save Lives, the authors quote a study from Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Washington that found older adults with high blood levels of fish-derived fatty acids lived, on average, 2.2 years longer than those with lower levels. “Increasing levels of fish consumption (to the recommended levels) could save about 7000 lives (in Canada) a year,” the report concluded.

Multiple Users: Can Fishing & Oil Drilling (and even Deep-sea Mining) co-exist?

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A story in Atuna (12 April 2013) announces a study into the Great Australian Bight, and the interactions of multiple users and their effects one each other; in particular the effects of drilling on fishstocks.

This couldn’t be anymore timely. Globally this issue of multiple use has emerged as technology has developed and other users such as oil drillers  have begun to prospect marine areas that have been the domain of fisheries…

This is a real issue in New Zealand where there has been prospecting for oil, and and even deep sea phosphate mining occurring within or adjacent to productive fishing grounds.

In Australia Oil reserves coincide with southern bluefin tuna (Thunnus maccoyii) grounds…

Ac cording to Atuna:

The Australian southern bluefin tuna industry has welcomed new research into the Great Australian Bight [where] an AUS$ 20 million whole of ecosystem study has been announced that will look at the economic, environmental and social value of the Bight.

Oil giant BP is funding some of the research. 

Map of Australia, showing the Great Australian Bight. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Australian_Bight

Map of Australia, showing the Great Australian Bight.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Australian_Bight

The tuna industry has had concerns in the past about the company’s exploration for oil and gas in the area; but Brian Jeffriess, from the tuna industry, says this research is welcome.

Unless you understand the ecosystem, understand how each of the users of that ecosystem whether they be new ones like BP or older ones like ourselves, we need to be responsible and need to recognize that we each have mutual obligations to us and the South Australian community.”

So what is Down There and how does it coincide with Bluefin Tuna?

A GeoScience Australia press release (05 April 2010) Geoscience Australia identified three new deep water hydrocarbon provinces announces:

Three significant new oil and gas regions have been identified off Australia’s coast, raising the potential for a wave of offshore exploration that could create booming new resources hubs around the nation. A combination of new technology and the high price of oil has prompted the commonwealth’s Geoscience Australia survey body to push technical limits and explore frontier areas in deep water, turning up startling new resource potential.

Geoscience Australia has identified the Bight basin as a new deepwater hydrocarbon province.
http://www.energy-pedia.com/news/australia/geoscience-australia-identifies-three-new-deep-water-hydrocarbon-provinces

One of the regions, the South Australian end of the Great Australian Bight, has been opened for exploration and has already attracted strong bids ahead of the April 29 deadline. But extracting any oil and gas from this area will mean overcoming significant challenges, including heavy seas and wells deeper than any in operation around the nation.

In addition to the Bight, Geoscience Australia has uncovered strong indications of petroleum in basins near the Lord Howe Rise, 800km east of Brisbane, and on the Wallaby Plateau, 500km off the West Australian coast and next to the existing North West Shelf gas zone.

Which could be good news for the Australian Economy… But what of existing use… Bluefin Tuna is good for the Australian Economy too!!

According to the Australian Government these two resources spatially coincide:

Southern bluefin tuna spawning ground and migration pattern within and out of Australian waters. The 200-mile Australian fishing zone is indicated by the solid line and the horizontal hatching indicates the composite distribution of the Australian surface fishery. The general distribution of Japanese longline fishing is inset. (Modified from Majkowski et al., 1988). http://www.fao.org/docrep/005/t1817e/T1817E17.htm

Southern bluefin tuna spawning ground and migration pattern within and out of Australian waters. The 200-mile Australian fishing zone is indicated by the solid line and the horizontal hatching indicates the composite distribution of the Australian surface fishery. (Modified from Majkowski et al., 1988).
http://www.fao.org/docrep/005/t1817e/T1817E17.htm

According to the Australian Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Poulation and Communities:

[The] Adult Southern Bluefin Tuna in Australian waters, ranges widely from northern Western Australia (WA) to the southern region of the continent, including Tasmania, and to northern New South Wales, appearing in eastern Australian waters mainly during winter (Caton 1991; CCSBT 2009; Honda et al. 2010; NSW DPI FSC n.d.). Juveniles of one to two years of age inhabit inshore waters in WA and South Australia (Honda et al. 2010).

The Southern Bluefin Tuna is highly migratory, occurring globally in waters between 30–50° S, though the species is mainly found in the eastern Indian Ocean and in the south-west Pacific Ocean. There is a single known spawning ground between Java and northern WA (TSSC 2010aw).

Given What is happening in New Zealand with Chatham Rise Phosphate… I am going to keep up with how the Aussies deal with this overlap!

Australia Fair! Senator calls for a law to combat seafood imports

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Upon reading this wee article by Phillip Hudson published in the Herald Sun on 28 March, 2013 (Senator calls for signs revealing seafood to be local or imported) and found myself smiling wryly!

“Advance Australia Fair!”

I find myself wondering if this approach really is fair…

Nationals Senator Ron Boswell has called for mandatory signs at fish and chip shops stating whether seafood is local or imported. Source: Herald Sun (28 March, 2013)

Nationals Senator Ron Boswell has called for mandatory signs at fish and chip shops stating whether seafood is local or imported. Source: Herald Sun (28 March, 2013)

“FISH-and-chip shops should be forced to display signs revealing whether cooked fish is top-quality Australian seafood or a cheap import, says veteran Nationals senator Ron Boswell.”

Australian Veteran Nationals senator Ron Boswell warned that as tens of thousands of Australians embark on the Good Friday ritual of buying a fish meal, they could unwittingly be served up catfish from Vietnam; adding that this ‘problem’ could be readily fixed by:

[…] one little word saying imported or local“.

Boswell indicated that this law would also apply to cafes and restaurant menus. He declared the plan to batter imports would be a “priority” for an Abbott government; but as yet it is not the Coalition’s formal policy.

I am however find myself thankful for at least one sage voice in the Australian wilderness, with small business spokesman Bruce Billson suggesting that such a policy might involve too much red tape. He asks:

[Couldn’t] customers just ask the fish-and-chip shop owner?