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2016 NFI Political Conference

The National Fisheries Institute invites you to Washington, D.C. for NFI’s annual Political Conference, September 12 – September 15, 2016 at the Loews Madison Hotel. This is NFI’s premier Washington, D.C. event, and gives you and your company a unique opportunity to raise priority public policy issues with your congressional delegation and key regulators, while enjoying our Nation’s Capital at its fall best.

 

NFI, NGOs and a Real Mission That Goes Beyond Rhetoric

The National Fisheries Institute (NFI) is proud of our association with some of the world’s leading seafood sustainability organizations, like NOAA’s Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee (MAFAC), the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF.)

NFI was an early and steadfast supporter of the Magnuson Stevens Act reauthorization and of the Port State Measures.  In fact an NFI employee was detailed for portions of time over a three-year period to assist the State Department team in negotiating that accord.

Our President was a long standing member of the MSC Board of Directors.

We continue to be impressed with the job done by ISSF, the millions spent on sustainability research with on-the-water results, its work with countless NGOs, and its efforts to ensure that countries and tuna RFMOs make the right sustainability decisions.

We’re especially proud of the fact that platinum level groups like the Global Environment Facility, the World Bank, the Walton Family Foundation, NOAA, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation have all funded or co-funded projects with ISSF, a testament to just how well regarded the group is in the real world of seafood sustainability.

We are proud of all of our partnerships, big and small. Sometimes it’s a small, local group in Indonesia.  Sometimes it’s a global workhorse like ISSF. We will work with sensible NGOs when our interests align. But we are also proud to call groups out when they stray towards the crutch of erroneous rhetoric.  Alliances built on a shared interest in the future of seafood are coveted relationships. Nonsensical rantings from marginalized fundraising organizations are noise that distracts NFI and responsible, collaborative partnerships from an important mission.

New Round of Reporting Raises More Questions About Proposed EU Live Lobster Ban

This week, there’s a new round of reporting on the potential EU ban of live lobsters from North America. The headlines alone illustrate the fact that there are serious questions about the validity of the accusations being lobbed by Sweden:

From flat-out denying there’s any scientific basis for the proposed ban to highlighting that any prohibition would be a business boon for Swedish lobstermen, the latest reporting shows a narrative taking shape that’s likely far more about trade than taxonomy:

  • “Exporters and some scientists have scoffed at the Swedish concerns, saying that the ‘invasion’ of North American lobsters involves only two or three dozen lobsters caught in European waters over the course of nearly a decade.”
  • “Robert Bayer, executive director of the University of Maine’s Lobster Institute, said there is no scientific basis for Sweden’s proposed ban.”
  • “The North American side points to a Swedish report that says a ban on American crustaceans ‘would potentially be beneficial in terms of profits and jobs’ for Europe.”

Chicago Tribune: What Did They Know and When did They Know It?

Chicago Tribune writer Nneka McGuire is currently working on a story about seafood consumption with a focus on women and pregnant women.  NFI has been happy to serve as a resource for Ms. McGuire providing her on-the-record, recorded interviews and links to independent, published, peer-reviewed science on the current state of seafood and nutrition.

We explained that, independent of NFI, the current state of science overwhelmingly supports and promotes the conclusion that Americans do not eat a sufficient amount of seafood and that the real danger lies in not eating enough… even for pregnant women. We provided her with not only a summary of the findings but direct links to the USDA Dietary Guidelines, the FDA’s Net Effects Report, and the joint study conducted by the World Health Organization and UN FAO.

Ms. McGuire has a library of the latest information at her disposal. In addition, NFI has offered perspective on the many agenda-driven groups that often try to distort scientific consensus in order to promote scare stories about seafood. NFI stands as a continued resource to this reporter and is more than happy to direct her to independent experts, clinicians and research on this topic.

Having seen myriad misreporting on this important topic NFI remains vigilant, if not skeptical, about this forthcoming report for two reasons. After being provided with links to the preeminent, independent, published, peer-reviewed science on seafood consumption the reporter asked NFI for comment, not on those findings, but on two University of Michigan studies– one on seafood and autoimmune disorders and the other on mercury levels off the Hawaiian coast.

This dynamic raises concerns for us because neither of these studies have anything to do with eating fish. To be clear, Ms. McGuire is aware of that incontrovertible fact. To reiterate, neither of the studies she has asked us to comment on involve researching what happens to the human body when fish is eaten. One is an associative review and the other measures mercury in fish. These are not nutrition studies. These do not present conclusions about the effects of fish consumption. There are many, many other conclusive, long term studies that do in fact look at the effects of fish consumption on human health, these do not.

The second phase of our concern comes from the fact that the Chicago Tribune itself has a woefully bad history about reporting on seafood and health. While Ms. McGuire clearly had no role in any of the previous reporting the editorial leadership demonstrated during prior stories was akin to journalistic malpractice.

We stand as a continued resource to this and any other reporter interested in the ground truth science about seafood and nutrition.

Chicago Tribune Publishes Another Alarmist Mercury in Fish Story

(Part II) Chicago Tribune Publishes Another Alarmist Mercury in Fish Story

(Part III) Chicago Tribune Publishes Another Alarmist Mercury in Fish Story

(Part IV) Chicago Tribune Publishes Another Alarmist Mercury in Fish Story

(Part V) Chicago Tribune Publishes Another Alarmist Mercury in Fish Story

(Part VI) Chicago Tribune Publishes Another Alarmist Mercury in Fish Story

Bad Choices at the Chicago Tribune

Health Advice and Journalistic Responsibility

Has Trib reporter Hawthorne Joined the Ranks of Jenny McCarthy?

Hawthornes Mercury Mania Continues

Is Michael Hawthorne An Independent Journalist Or An Environmental Activist?

A Closer Look at The Mercury Menace

A Closer Look at The Mercury Menace (Part II)

A Closer Look At The Mercury Menace (Part III)

Real Reporting on the Future of Seafood

For years an erroneous statistic made the rounds of both causal conversation and main-stream media reporting. It said the world’s oceans would be emptied of fish by the year 2048.  The statistic was patently wrong and had even been debunked in published, peer-reviewed literature by its original author. But writers, reporters, editors and producers continued to use it because sound-bite science, even if wrong, is so often an easier sell.

Since 2009 a slow and steady drumbeat has chipped away at this harmfully inaccurate misinformation. Righting earlier reporting NBC proclaimed, “crab cakes and fish sticks won’t be disappearing after all,” while the New York Times wrote, “can we have our fish and eat it too?… the answer may be yes.”

Now, all these years later an accurate, science-based narrative is finally helping the media come full circle. The latest science shows not an empty ocean by 2048 but quite the opposite. National Geographic begins its report this way:

  • “After decades of declines, most of the world’s fish populations could recover in just ten years, while fishermen make more money at the same time, scientists reported in a new study published Monday.”
  • “By 2050, global fish populations could double if all countries switched to the best management practices.”

The hand wringing and hyperbole associated with empty oceans has made for compelling press but the plain and simple facts are quite different and are finally getting their day.

We suggest reading the National Geographic article, “How Our Favorite Fish Could Recover in a Decade.”

Science Scoffs at Sweden’s North American Lobster Claims

If you’ve been following Sweden’s attempt to ban North American Lobsters you know about the country’s claim that the discovery of 32 lobsters over the course of seven years constitutes an invasion.

Marine biologist Boris Worm is saying… ummmm, yeah, not so much an invasion. His words, “”I’ve never heard of lobster being invasive anywhere, really.”

The whole report is worth a read here.

Eat This Not That Slips One Step Closer to Internet Obscurity

Once a quick go-to source for nutrition nuggets that mom and millennials could trust Eat This Not That has slipped yet another step closer to the click bait engine it has slowly been evolving into. This time it’s boasting “Every Popular Fish—Ranked for Nutritional Benefits.” The problem is, a quick look at even just a few of their nutrition profiles illustrates that they get is so thoroughly wrong, so many times, the whole exercise fails the credibility test.

They claim farmed Atlantic Salmon is apparently “dyed pink” and is “high in PCBs.”

Really, Eat This?

Dr. Sanjay Gupta looked into those very claims on 60 Minutes and found that carotenoids that salmon normally eat in the wild are added to their food to give them that pink color and that their PCB levels are “so low it’s almost a drop in the bucket.”

Then, how about canned tuna? This is where Eat This notes “canned albacore tuna can have almost triple the levels of mercury of light tuna.” Yeah, it can. But Eat This fails to report that light tuna contains 0.1 ppm of mercury and albacore contains 0.3 ppm. The FDA limit is 1.0ppm. If that were a speed limit, light tuna would be traveling 5.5 mph is a 55mph zone and albacore would be traveling a whopping 16.5 mph is a 55 mph zone.

There are really too many to address here.

Eat This might want to Research This before it posts its next nonsensical list or further risk diluting its once popular brand.

Updated Dietary Guidelines Suggest Shifting to Seafood

In January the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services jointly issued the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The Dietary Guidelines is updated every 5 years to reflect the latest in published nutrition science. This report is designed to form the foundation of dietary advice that healthcare professionals share with patients, as well as inform federal nutrition programs, such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the National School Lunch Program.

According to the Dietary Guidelines, nearly half of all Americans have one or more preventable, diet-related chronic diseases, such as heart disease, hypertension and type 2 diabetes. However, small changes in diet and lifestyle can result in weight loss and a reduced risk of developing one of these chronic diseases.

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines recognize the importance of these small changes by focusing on healthy eating over a lifetime. Unlike previous editions of the Dietary Guidelines, the most recently updated version focuses on overall eating patterns designed to meet Americans where they currently are as opposed to focusing on individual foods or nutrients in isolation.

It is no surprise that the updated Guidelines recommend Americans eat a variety of vegetables, fruits and whole grains, and limit saturated fat, sodium and added sugars. New to the Dietary Guidelines, however, is the recent recommendation for Americans to eat a variety of protein-rich foods. In fact, the Guidelines go one step further and suggest that individuals shift to more nutrient-dense protein options, like seafood, nuts and seeds, soy and beans.

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines are clear that Americans currently eat an adequate amount of protein, but average seafood consumption is well below recommendations in all age and gender categories. Therefore, most individuals don’t need to eat more protein, they just need to eat more of a variety of protein-rich foods. The Guidelines recommend making this shift by “incorporating seafood as the protein foods choice in meals twice per week in place of meat, poultry, or eggs” and suggest choosing a salmon steak or tuna sandwich to increase protein variety.

Seafood also plays a prominent role in two eating patterns that the Guidelines recommend Americans should shift towards. The American-style eating pattern suggests that individuals eat at least two seafood meals (or about 8-12 ounces) every week, while the Mediterranean-style eating pattern—long associated with heart health and longevity—includes even more seafood each week, up to 17 ounces.

Additionally, the 2015 Guidelines also clearly advise pregnant and breastfeeding women to eat at least 2-3 meals (or 8-12 ounces) of a variety of seafood every week. The omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA found in fish help improve baby’s brain development, as well as mom’s heart. The Guidelines also recommend that obstetricians and pediatricians provide guidance on how to make healthy food choices that include seafood.

Decades of research support the recommendations to eat more seafood for heart health, brain development in babies and young children, brain health at all other life stages and bone health, among other health benefits, as well. Seafood is rich in nutrients Americans just don’t get enough of—omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, B vitamins and iron—and low in nutrients Americans do, like saturated fat.

The recently-released Guidelines suggest that—for the first time—federal dietary guidance on seafood is finally catching up to the science. Finally, there is government nutrition advice—for registered dietitians, doctors and policymakers—that recognizes the importance of eating seafood during all life stages, particularly during pregnancy. Perhaps, future seafood advice for healthcare professionals, organizations and consumers will be as clear, concise and science-based.

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is available at dietaryguidelines.gov.

New York Times Promotes Preposterous Oceans Parable

The Old Gray Lady has a well-documented propensity for embracing the panacea of smiley, happy, universal sustainability without digging too far into the reality of some of its favorite strategies.  Just searching New York Times on this site alone brings up dozens of examples where the Times choses an agenda driven narrative over actual research.

This week is no different as the Times published an interview with biologist E. O. Wilson as part of his promotion of a new book. In the interview, and apparently the book, Wilson boldly suggests we set aside half of the planet to let it recover and that we go about our business while it does so.

Part of that 50% would be a little thing called “the oceans” because, according to Wilson, “we need to stop fishing in the open sea and let life there recover.” This strategy goes completely unchallenged by writer Claudia Dreifus. But the folks at CFood didn’t let it slip without pointing out the lack of science and near delusion associated with the reality of this idea. Their posting is worth a read.

Balanced Budget Blueprint Calls for Elimination of Catfish Program

The Washington, D.C. based Heritage Foundation is out with its new blueprint for balancing the Federal Budget and one of its recommendations is to “repeal the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) catfish inspection program.”

In an effort to cut out duplicative and wasteful spending Heritage blasts the program as “costly duplication” that is an “unjustified trade barrier.” The group also notes, “the retaliation would likely come against industries other than the catfish industry, such as milk producers or meat packers. American consumers also would suffer because this program would reduce competition.”

Today’s latest call for repeal of the duplicative USDA catfish regulation is more evidence that it is one of Washington’s most wasteful and unpopular programs and opposition continues to grow.