Vietnam a big transshipment point for smuggling Australian seafood into China says Seafood News


According to and translated at (SeafoodNews.COM by Amy Zhong) “about 70% of the imported seafood is not taxed in the Mainland China and many seafood items have been smuggled into China through Vietnam, according to some media.

Although this question may not interest consumers, it is of great importance to ask how the  imported seafood they enjoy has entered the Chinese market. Some discreet consumers find it  necessary to distinguish the imported seafood of America from those of Australia, however, they  are not concerned about whether these seafood have been taxed.  

An experienced lobster supplier in Australia has told the reporter from Free Trade Zone Post (FTZ Post) that a comparatively high proportion of imported seafood has been brought  into China in an illegal way. The proportion may be as high as 70%, according to his estimation. 

Although overseas suppliers know that this kind of smuggling has existed for a long time, they have not  intervened but thought that it should be handled by the Chinese.  One Australian supplier has warned that although the price of these illegal seafood may be  about 20% to 30% less than those imported legally, the safety of the illegal seafood can not be  guaranteed owing to a lack of examination and quarantine.  

However, the reality is that neither the importers nor the eaters care about if these seafoods are imported legally.  

As the data show, Vietnam and China are both among the top three in view of importing the  western Australian seafood from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014. But China’s import value is only  US$100 million, a third of Vietnam’s import value, which is US$320 million. 

This clearly doesn’t  match the spending power..


Bigeye Tuna are overfished say ISSF!


According to Blank:

The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation’s (ISSF) new Status of the Stocks rating report downgraded Pacific bigeye tuna stocks from a “green” rating — signifying the stock is healthy — to “orange,” meaning the stocks are overfished.

“This year, the stock assessments for both Pacific stocks of bigeye tuna (eastern Pacific and western and central Pacific) showed that the abundance has fallen below the level that would correspond to maximum sustainable yield (MSY),” Victor Restrepo (pictured), VP of science for ISSF, told SeafoodSource. The Pacific bigeye stocks became overfished in 2012 or 2013, he added.

“The reason they became overfished is simply because the exploitation rate is too high. Depending on their natural rates of mortality, growth and reproduction, fish stocks have turnover rates that allow them to replace the biomass lost to fishing, up to a point,” he said.

As a result, catches of Pacific bigeye tuna need to be reduced “to a level commensurate with their turnover capability,” Restrepo said. “This may be hard to do politically, but in concept it is pretty simple. Fishing needs to be managed.”

In addition to Pacific bigeye tuna, 39 percent of all global tuna stocks are overfished, ISSF found, while 52 percent of the all tuna stocks are at a healthy level of abundance, and 9 percent are at an “intermediate level.”

In addition, 17.4 percent of global tuna stocks are being overfished, while 43.5 percent of the stocks are experiencing a low fishing mortality rate, and 39 percent have a high fishing mortality that is being managed adequately, according to ISSF.

“The high rate of overfishing ultimately has to do with too much fishing capacity in the ocean. There are more vessels than are needed to exploit these stocks at the MSY level,” Restrepo said. “On top of that, the decision-making mechanisms at the regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) that manage the stocks tend to be consensus-driven. They are slow, and tend to build in many exemptions and loopholes that make them less effective than they could be.”

Meanwhile, the percentage of the global tuna catch that comes from healthy stocks declined from 91 percent to 86 percent since ISSF’s last report in April 2014.

“When viewed from the point of view of total catch, 86 percent of the catch comes from healthy stocks. This is due to the fact that skipjack stocks contribute more than one half of the global catch of tunas, and they are all in a healthy situation,” according to an ISSF statement.

“In contrast, most bluefin stocks and two out of six albacore stocks are overfished, but combined they make a relatively small fraction of the total catch.”

Bigeye tuna, Thunnus obesus, on ice. Picture source NOAA FishWatch (Wikimedia Commons)

Bigeye tuna, Thunnus obesus, on ice. Picture source NOAA FishWatch (Wikimedia Commons)

Oceana Marine biologist Jackie Savitz, Looks to the world’s oceans to feed the planet’s billion hungriest people


I was just sent a fabulous TED video to watch from a friend of mine, who told that the marine scientist in this video “gets it!”

The TED Website Introduces the ‘talk’ by Marine biologist Jackie Savitz entitled ‘Save the oceans, feed the world!’ thus:

What’s a marine biologist doing talking about world hunger? Well, says Jackie Savitz, fixing the world’s oceans might just help to feed the planet’s billion hungriest people. In an eye-opening talk, Savitz tells us what’s really going on in our global fisheries right now — it’s not good — and offers smart suggestions of how we can help them heal, while making more food for all.”

Click here to view the transcript


New Zealand to help Tonga develop a well-managed & sustainable deepwater line fishery


I just saw a wee snippet in Dive New Zealand:

The $2.7m NZ government-funded project draws expertise from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), the South Pacific community, Tonga’s government and fishing industry. The aim is to develop a well-managed, sustainable line fishery for deepwater fish in Tonga’s Exclusive Economic Zone. 

This Tongan aid programme was first announced last month by NIWA in a press release:

New Zealand helps Tongan deepwater fisheries development

A programme to help Tonga maximise the economic benefits of commercial fishing has been launched in the country’s capital, Nuku’alofa.

Coinciding with a visit to Tonga by New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, the $2.7m NZ government-funded project draws together expertise from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), the Secretariat for the Pacific Community, Tonga’s government and fishing industry.

The aim is to develop a well-managed, sustainable line fishery for deepwater fish in Tonga’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

Project leader and NIWA fisheries scientist Dr Stuart Hanchet said the project was funded by the NZ Aid Partnership Programme and partners will explore ways to maximise economic returns and develop new market opportunities.

“Biological sustainability and improved management are also key objectives,” Dr Hanchet said.

The project builds on the recently approved Tongan Deepwater Fisheries Management Plan by providing key information to support implementation of the plan.

Sustainable development in Tonga

The Agenda 21 website provides a good overview on sustainable development in Tonga:

The Agenda 21 was adopted at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The Conference recommended that States consider preparing national reports and communicating the information therein to the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) including, activities they undertake to implement Agenda 21, the obstacles and challenges they confront, and other environment and development issues they find relevant.

The Johannesburg Summit 2002 (the World Summit on Sustainable Development) organised by UN Commission on Sustainable Development focused on strategies for meeting challenges that best humanity going forward, including improving people’s lives and conserving our natural resources in a world that is growing in population, with ever-increasing demands for food, water, shelter, sanitation, energy, health services and economic security.

Also see: NZ announces “sustainable” development assistance for Tonga

Incredible (near) futuristic videos: ‘A day made of glass’


I was just sent these youtube clips that were put together by Corning entitled “A Day made of Glass

These days of glass are not far away!

These clips are certainly a peak at where we are going.

Who are Corning?

From there ‘about us page’ at

Corning is one of the world’s leading innovators in materials science. For more than 160 years, Corning has applied its unparalleled expertise in specialty glass, ceramics, and optical physics to develop products that have transformed people’s lives. Today, Corning’s products enable diverse industries such as consumer electronics, telecommunications, transportation, and life sciences. Learn more about how Corning collaborates closely with customers and applies its unique combination of material and process expertise to solve tough technology challenges.”

See their Videos:

A Day Made of Glass – Made possible by Corning… (2011)
A Day Made of Glass 2 (2012)
A Day Made of Glass 2: Unpacked (2012)
A Day Made of Glass 90-Second Montage (2013)
      • A fast-paced, 90-second snapshot of Corning’s vision for the future of glass technologies.  View Video
A Day Made of Glass 5-Minute Montage (2013)
      • An overarching, five-minute montage of Corning’s “A Day Made of Glass” video series.  View Video
Students React to the “A Day Made of Glass” Videos (2012)
      • A group of high school students comment on Corning’s vision for the future of glass technologies.  View Video

Doesn’t US expansion of ‘No go’ areas around its Remote Pacific Ocean Areas simply Relocate Risk? This is the Criticism The White House is receiving on Pacific MPA initiative!


President Obama has recently announced (also see this GFBF post) his intention to make a broad swath of the central Pacific Ocean off-limits to fishing, energy exploration and other activities according to the Washington Post.

President Obama and actor Leonardo DiCaprio pledged Tuesday to help protect the ocean and challenged other nations to undertake bold initiatives of their own before it’s too late.

Speaking via video at a State Department conference, Obama stressed that the sea is more than an alluring landscape — it’s also a source of food and economic growth. Climate change, overfishing and pollution now threaten to degrade that resource, the president said. “We cannot afford to let that happen,” he said. “That’s why the United States is leading the fight to protect our oceans.”

DiCaprio (at the same conference), advised that Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation would spend $7 million over the next two years on marine conservation supporting nations that are expanding marine reserves, as well as other initiatives. He noted that he had “witnessed environmental devastation firsthand” as he had gone diving in regions across the world, and urged global leaders to be more ambitious.

This isn’t simply an exercise in wildlife conservation… If we don’t do something to save the ocean now, it won’t be just the sharks and the dolphins that suffer. It will be our children and our grandchildren.”

DiCaprio noted that his first charitable donation was to a group that protected endangered manatees in Florida, adding that he had revered the sea ever since he was young. “Before I wanted to become an actor, I dreamt of becoming a marine biologist” he said.

According to the White House, the Pacific Ocean area:

Contains some of the most pristine tropical marine environments in the world, [which are] also among the most vulnerable areas to the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification.”

The Washington Post reported that he plans to use his executive authority to expand the Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument, a grouping of seven islands and atolls in the south-central Pacific Ocean. This proposal, said to go into effect later this year after a consultation period, proposes to expand US Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument would be expanded from almost 87,000 square miles to nearly 782,000 square miles — all of it adjacent to seven islands and atolls controlled by the United States. The designation would include waters up to 200 nautical miles offshore from the territories.

This initiative could in effect create the world’s largest marine sanctuary and double the area of ocean globally that is fully protected.

Report on Expansion of theU.S. Pacific Remote Islands Marine	National 	Monument for US Government by Sala et al. [Click To download]

Report on Expansion of the U.S. Pacific Remote
Islands Marine National Monument for US Government by Sala et al.
[Click To download]

Furthermore this proposed conservation initiative is consistent with the National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan, and is therefore unlikely to trigger any legal need for congressional approval. The initiative does not create new regulations, supersede current regulations, or modify any agency’s established mission, jurisdiction or authority. It doesn’t redirect congressionally-appropriated funds, or direct agencies to divert funds from existing programs.

On the contrary the initiative (like the Implementation Plan) “improves interagency collaboration and prioritization to help focus limited resources and use taxpayer dollars more efficiently.”

National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan [Click To download]

National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan [Click To Read]

The rationale behind the proposed conservation initiative (according to the Washington Post) is as follows:

  1. With marine reserves, bigger is often better. Many scientists–such as Lance Morgan and Elliott Norse of the Redmond, Wash.-based Marine Conservation Institute–argue that the ecological benefits expand exponentially when sanctuaries are enlarged, both because they allow species to move freely and because they are easier to enforce.
  2. Underwater Topographical Features (UTFs)  matterSeamounts— mountains (above 1,000m in elevation) that lie beneath the ocean’s surface–can be hotspots of biodiversity. There are anywhere between 40 to 51 in the current protected area, and that number could increase if the president extends the reserve to 200 miles surrounding each of its seven islands and atolls.
  3. Since it’s devoid of people, animals thrive there. Almost everywhere in the world, small fish outnumber big fish. But in places such as Palmyra Atoll and Kingman Reef, scientists have found the biomass of large predators such as sharks outweighs that of smaller fish. The area–which also includes Wake, Johnston, Jarvis, Howland and Baker Islands–also features five species of protected sea turtles and 22 species of protected marine mammals as well as several million seabirds who gather there.
  4. There isn’t much commercial activity there, and it can move elsewhere. The fish caught in this region accounts for between 1 and 3 percent of the U.S. tuna catch in the central and western Pacific, and it is proposed that the seafood Industry can fish elsewhere.  The industry may still object to the expansion, however, which is one of the reasons why the White House is seeking public input before making a final decision.
  5. There is a global contest for bragging rights when it comes to creating marine reserves. At this point, environmentalists are hoping President Obama will be tempted to trump George W. Bush’s record as the U.S. president who has protected the most area in the ocean. If finalized, this would become the world’s largest no-take marine reserve. Britain, which currently holds the record for fully protecting the biggest swath of ocean around the Chagos Islands, is now looking at putting an area around Pitcairn Island off limits

[Note: Currently New Zealand and Australia collectively have just under half of all the MPAs in the World within their EEZs with networks of MPAs protecting representative areas (see map below)]

UNEP IUCN Map of Global Marine Protected Areas.

UNEP IUCN Map of Global Marine Protected Areas. [Click to enlarge]

Well doesn’t shutting down a shop over there simply force those shoppers to shop elsewhere?

According to Fox News the U.S fishery council that governs the Pacific territories’ fisheries oppose the initiative:

The proposed restrictions are “unnecessary,” and enforcing them would  be “overstepping currently managed sustainable management regimes, reducing US fisheries competitiveness, and yielding few, if any, ecological benefits,”  according to a report issued two weeks after the State Department conference by the Western  Pacific Regional  Fishery Management Council — a group created by the federal government itself.

The Obama administration “failed to consult the [Council] about the true economic and environmental impacts of its plan to expand the Monument,” which overrides existing fishery management legislation.

The fishermen also charge that the expanded preserves will almost entirely affect U.S. fishing vessels, which they argue are already the best managed and most supervised in the world, even though any overfishing in the vast Pacific involves a variety of international fleets, and notably these days a rapidly increasing flotilla from China.

This sentiment was reiterated by professor Ray Hilborn of the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at University of Washington (a renowned authority on global fish populations), who sees the marine preserves as embodying a zoological contradiction:

“They are supposedly intended to protect fish such as tuna that are “highly migratory” and travel thousands of miles during their life-span.

The areas proposed are too small to impact the stock status of large tuna populations that span the Pacific Ocean. These are token closures and will have no real impact on the fishes of the ocean.”

The best solution to address overfishing of highly migratory stocks is working cooperatively within the international community on science-based measures, monitoring compliance, and tough consequences for non-compliance.”

Prof. Carl Walters of the University of British Columbia, agrees with Prof. Hilborn:

You would need to substantially close the entire Western Pacific. The kind of 20 percent standards that are being set now are not very effective.”

According to to Island Business the intiative  has been criticised by the South Pacific Regional organisation the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) as well:

The director general of the Forum Fisheries Agency, James Movick, says the U.S move could drive longliners into the southern seas, further depleting the very stock the small island states are trying to conserve.

“It’s hard to see what precise management benefit would be obtained from that. What it will do though is encourage those fleets to relocate, including onto the high seas and other areas where they might be less subject to close management.”

FFA Member Countries.  Source: FFA (

FFA Member Countries.
Source: FFA (