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Fourth World Canned Seafood Conference Held In Vigo Spain, July 26, 12

The Spanish National Association of Manufacturers of Canned Fish and Seafood (Anfaco-Cecopesca) will hold the IV World Conference of Canned Seafood next September 10-11 in Vigo, Spain, a meeting point for the sector and its subsidiary industries.

The event will serve to discuss the situation of the seafood canning and processing sector and the related topics, such as raw material supply, the processing and marketing of canned seafood. Participants to the conference will be representatives from companies located in countries like Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, UK, Belgium, Netherlands, Thailand, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Seychelles, Mauritius, Ecuador, Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, Brazil, U.S. and Taiwan, among others.

Therefore, during these dates Vigo will become the “canned seafood world capital”, according to Anfaco.

In addition to the company representatives, the forum will also be attended by government officials from the European Union, European Parliament and Ministries of Economy, Health and Agriculture, Food and Environment.

Sea Shepherd Founder Flees And Skips Euro 250,000 Bail Germany, July 26, 12

The head of the marine conservation group left Germany "for an unspecified destination", his lawyer told a Frankfurt court yesterday, prompting an arrest warrant to be reissued.

Earlier this year Costa Rica filed an extradition request on charges stemming from a high-seas confrontation between a Sea Shepherd ship and a Costa Rican vessel over alleged illegal shark finning in 2002.

Watson, a Canadian national whose organisation is known for its aggressive attacks on Japanese whalers, was accused of "putting a ship's crew in danger".

The 61-year-old was arrested at Frankfurt airport last May and detained for a week before being released on bail after paying €250,000 and being ordered to appear before police twice a day.

Susan Hartland, Sea Shepherd's administrative director, confirmed that he had fled, but said she did not know where.

"We have reason to believe from a reliable source that, once in Costa Rica, the Japanese government may have sought extradition of Captain Watson to Japan to answer charges related to obstructing their illegal whaling activities," she said.

"We have no further information and are not in touch with him. We will do our best to provide more details as we learn more."

Watson, who was tweeting as recently as Tuesday, but made no mention of where he was or what he planned to do, has previously suggested that Japan might be "putting pressure" on Germany to carry out the extradition order.

Sea Shepherd is best known for its annual pursuit of the Japanese whaling fleet in Antarctica, using increasingly militant methods to halt the hunt, including the boarding of vessels.

This year, after setting off from Australia, the group hurled stink bombs at the boats on the high seas and used ropes to try to tangle their propellers in a series of exchanges which saw the whalers retaliate with water cannon.

The whaling fleet killed less than a third of the animals it planned to because of the sabotage attempts.

Meanwhile, Watson is facing further trouble with Maltese tuna ranchers, who recently declared they have no intention of dropping their lawsuit against against him, whose flagship Steve Irwin had freed around 800 live blue-fin tuna from a cage being transported to a Malta-based tuna pen in June 2010.

Malta-based tuna ranching company Fish & Fish, claim that the vessel had rammed the cage, causing damage to its property and endangering the lives of its employees, a claim Sea Shepherd has consistently denied, arguing that it was in fact a Maltese tug that had rammed Steve Irwin and caused the collision.

The tuna ranching firm estimated the value of the freed tuna at just over €1 million: a rough indication of the sort of prices the blue fin tuna, an endangered species, now fetches on the Japanese market, to which they would otherwise have been exported.

But Fish & Fish's efforts to sue the conservation society in the UK have so far proved unsuccessful. Mr. Justice Hamblin of the Admiralty Court threw the case out of court earlier this month, and ordered Fish & Fish to pay Watson's legal expenses, amounting to €250,000.

Dr John Refalo, legal counsel to the tuna ranchers, admitted that this was a setback, but added that the case would not stop there, after filing an appeal earlier this week against the conservationist organization.

"This was a preliminary ruling, and we are currently filing for permission to appeal - something that is not granted automatically in the British system," he told MaltaToday.

Refalo added that the case was dismissed only on a technicality: a previous attempt to sue Paul Watson (a Canadian citizen) in the United States had similarly been overturned on the grounds that the Steve Irwin was registered in the UK.

Following the latest developments, Fish & Fish are likely to pursue the case back in the United States.

"One way or another we will get him," Refalo added. "It will just take more money..."

In comments to MaltaToday, Paul Watson echoes Refalo's view that the case against Sea Shepherd would cost Fish & Fish more money - but the outcome, he adds, will not be what the tuna ranchers expect.

Watson also faces legal proceedings brought against him by the Maltese government.

Last March, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi revealed that the Maltese government has initiated legal proceedings over an interview published by New Europe.

Gonzi was replying to a parliamentary question forwarded by Nationalist backbencher Jesmond Mugliett in regards to an interview which was published on the magazine about Malta's tuna fishing industry.

In the interview published in February, Watson was quoted as saying "what is happening in Malta is that there is a whole illegal enterprise going on there with the full support of the politicians who are being bribed by these tuna fishermen."

Mugliett asked whether libel proceeding will be undertaken by the government and the Prime Minister replied in the affirmative. "Following legal advice, it has been decided to initiate libel proceedings abroad," Gonzi said.

In the interview, Sea Shepherd's founder Paul Watson delivered a scathing judgment of Malta's political class, claiming the Bluefin tuna industry has been lining MPs' pockets to sanction their allegedly illegal fishing trade.

Watson - who has led expeditions in the Mediterranean to scupper Maltese tuna ranches - referred to the Maltese tuna industry as a "whole illegal enterprise" that has the full support of the politicians "who are being bribed by these tuna fishermen".

Watson said overfishing of Bluefin tuna was making the industry richer by driving prices up as the species is driven closer to extinction, but that the EU, and Malta, were doing little to enforce conservation laws.

"The EU has all the rules and regulations that protect our oceans, however, what they do not have is enforcement. We have a lack of will on the part of governments to enforce international conservation law. They need to get out there and arrest the bastards.

"But, they are doing this because too much money is passing hands under the table going to many politicians in Europe, just like in Malta; there is no question that Maltese politicians are on the take."

EU Banning Gillnetting Is “Senseless” Say Spanish European Union, July 26, 12

The General Fisheries Confederation (Cepesca) considers that the European Commission’s proposal (EC) to ban bottom trawling and gillnets is "senseless as it lacks scientific basis."

According to Cepesca secretary general, Javier Garat, the EU executive's initiative demonstrates that the Commissioner of Fisheries of the European Union (EU), Maria Damanaki, is once again working in accordance with what is stated by non-governmental organizations (NGO) advocating for the environment.

Garat took part of a meeting in Madrid with members of Cepesca Board and the secretary general of Fisheries of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment (Magrama) of Spain, Carlos Domínguez.

Cepesca secretary Javier Garat at the meeting with Magrama secretary Carlos Dominguez

At the meeting, the secretary explained that if Damanaki’s real goal is to protect resources and vulnerable marine ecosystems in the waters of the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC), she should follow the recommendations from the United Nations and the international guidelines from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for the management of deepwater fisheries.

First, Garat said oceanographic research vessels should assess the corresponding areas to delineate vulnerable marine ecosystems.

Depending on the results, the limitations and the appropriate management measures should be adopted there.

Cepesca stresses that Spain is a pioneer in oceanographic research applied to the detection of vulnerable marine ecosystems and to the implementation of management measures to protect them from the possible fishing impact.

"There is no good or bad gear. All the fishing methods have some impact on the environment, like any economic activity. What makes it good or bad is the use made of the gear and the regulation that is set," the group stated.

The Confederation also told Dominguez about the sector’s intention to report at the highest level in all the Community institutions "the abuse the fishing sector receives from Commissioner Damanaki, who has skipped all the principles of good governance, ignoring the input from the industry and studies on the environmental and socioeconomic impacts that should inspire the European proposals."

"We will protest and express our complaints in all the European institutions, Council of Ministers, the European Parliament (EP) and the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) for the sector’s opinion to be heard voicing its proposal of the evaluation and determination of vulnerable ecosystems and species and from there the implementation of protective measures," pointed out Cepesca in a statement.

At the meeting, the main issues affecting the fishing industry and the challenges it faces were discussed:

• The reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP);
• The discard policy being debated in the context of the reform;
• The Future of fisheries agreements with third countries, notably Mauritania, Morocco, Guinea Bissau and Gabon;
• The conflict situation with Gibraltar;
• Relationships with Portugal;
• The approval of the special register of deep-sea fishing vessels operating exclusively outside EU waters;
• The proposal for finning (fluttering) regulation.

Latin America New Battle Ground For Top Five Global Tuna Brands? Latin America, July 25, 12

The top canned tuna companies will be present in Latin America within five years, as they cannot afford to ignore the developing region’s growing potential, says Dario Chemerinski, director partner with Global Resources Brazil, a company that facilitates international business, and a speaker at the INFOFISH Tuna Conference in Bangkok, Thailand this past May.
He sees Thai Union, Thailand’s largest canned and frozen seafood producer, entering the market either through a major take-over or a possible launch of the tuna brand, John West. He also predicts two popular brands in the region – Costa Rica’s Sardimar and Colombia's Van Camps – could be attractive potential key acquisitions for any of the major players looking to expand.
Currently, Ecuador is the dominant tuna exporter to Latin American countries since it is free from trade tariffs, while Thailand is the second biggest player. Chemerinski estimates Ecuador commands about 70% of the exports to the “big” countries (Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Chile).
Latin America – which encompasses 23 countries in Central and South America – is emerging as an attractive market for tuna exports because of its improved stability and rising consumer demand for canned tuna, he says.
In 2012-2013, the GDP growth for Latin American countries is expected to increase at an average 4.3%. Peru and Colombia, however, are expected to grow at more than 5% a year.
“When the GDP rises in every country, this brings new consumers to some segments and canned tuna in particular is benefited,” says Chemerinski.
The positive trend towards fish, including canned tuna, is a healthy alternative to the region’s high consumption of red meat. Consumers in Brazil and Argentina, for instance, are used to eating about 45-50 kilos of red meat per capita each year. In comparison, the average canned tuna consumption per capita of the seven major Latin American countries (Ecuador, Argentina, Costa Rica, Brazil, Panama, Colombia and Chile) is less than 500 grams, which is about three or four cans annually. Ecuador and Costa Rica, however, are the exceptions, eating more than two kilos a year.
The volume difference between red meat and canned tuna consumption is certainly huge, and it poses a challenge to overcome. Latin American consumers especially eat tuna during Easter, spring and summer, and companies are working to promote it as an ingredient for hot dishes.
“It is not easy to convince the consumers or families to move from red meat to fish, but this is happening,” says Chemerinski. The consumption of both fish and canned tuna is growing, he says. Brazil now consumes 9 kilos of fish per capita each year, of which 250 grams is canned tuna.
New players have entered the Latin American market since 2010, including Jealsa Robinson Crusoe in Argentina and Brazil; Beira-Mar and Van Camps in Brazil; Calvo in Paraguay, Colombia and Belize; and Gomes da Costa in Suriname, Nicaragua and Gautemala. Bean and rice giant, Camil, also gained the major Brazilian brand, Coqueiro, from Pepsi.

Report: Labeling Fraud On High Percentage Of US Seafood United States, July 25, 12

The largest nonprofit focused on the health of our oceans is finding seafood fraud everywhere it looks - in Los Angeles, 55% of seafood is mislabeled, and in Boston it’s 48% and in South Florida it’s 31%.

In a report released last year, Bait and Switch: How Seafood Fraud Hurts Our Oceans, Our Wallets and Our Health, Oceana found that while 84% of the seafood eaten in the US is imported, only 2% is inspected and less than 0.001% specifically for fraud.

In fact, recent studies find that seafood may be mislabeled as often as 25-70% of the time for fish like red snapper, wild salmon and Atlantic cod, disguising species that are less desirable, cheaper or more readily available.

Oceana confirmed through DNA testing that seafood mislabeling is unacceptably high in samples collected at grocery stores, restaurants and sushi venues, among other retail outlets.

“Our results suggest that nationwide, people may be receiving a completely different fish than what they’re paying for,” says Dr. Kimberly Warner, senior scientist at Oceana. “Not only does seafood fraud cheat consumers and hurt honest seafood businesses, it also puts our health at risk and undermines efforts to eat sustainably.”

Despite ongoing efforts by local and state authorities to combat seafood fraud over the past 30 years, mislabeling rates have remained between 15-31%.

In South Florida, Oceana targeted species with regional significance and those that were found to be mislabeled from previous studies, including red and yellowtail snapper, grouper, wild salmon, yellowtail and white tuna.

Among the Florida report’s findings:

• Fraud is detected in half of the 14 different types of fish collected.
• Sushi venues have the highest proportion of mislabeled samples (58%).
• All white tuna samples from sushi venues are actually escolar, a species that can make people sick.
• Red snapper is mislabeled 86% of the time (six out of seven samples).
• Grouper mislabeling has dropped from a high of 40-50% during the height of the fake grouper scam in the mid-2000s to 16% (about one in six samples) in this study.
• The most egregious fish swap is king mackerel, a high mercury fish that carries a “Do Not Eat” health warning for sensitive groups, being sold as “grouper.”

“The results are disturbing,” says Beth Lowell, campaign director at Oceana. “The continued mislabeling of seafood in Florida shows that inspections alone are not enough. Seafood needs to be traced from boat to plate to ensure that it is safe, legal and honestly labeled.”

Despite growing concern about where our food comes from, consumers are frequently served the wrong fish - a completely different species than the one they paid for. With about 1,700 different species of seafood from all over the world now available in the US, it is unrealistic to expect consumers to be able to independently and accurately determine what fish is really being served.

Our seafood is following an increasingly complex path from fishing vessel to processor to distributor and ultimately our plates. Seafood safety is handled by a patchwork of laws with no federal agency definitively in charge of addressing seafood fraud. Little coordination or information sharing exists within the U.S. government, and many of these laws are not being fully implemented.

Oceana is calling on the federal government to ensure that the seafood sold in the U.S. is safe, legal and honestly labeled, including requiring a traceability system where information such as when, where and how a fish is caught follows it throughout the supply chain-from boat to plate - allowing people to make more informed decisions about the food they eat while keeping illegal fish out of the U.S. market.

A number of large retailers have committed to selling only Marine Steward Council (MSC) certified seafood, which guarantees tracking of seafood through the value chain, in addition to be caught sustainably from abundant sources: Kroger and Target by 2015; Safeway; Sysco, the largest foodservice distributor in the US, by 2015; McDonald’s in Europe.

Oman Bans Export Of Tuna To Assure Food Supply During Ramadan Oman, July 25, 12

With an expected crunch in fish supplies in the summer months and the worsening situation during Ramadan, Oman Fisheries Company plans to supply 2,000 metric tons of frozen fish to meet the rising demand. The stocks will be supplied at low prices through shops spread across 40 locations.

A senior Oman Fisheries official told Muscat Daily that the company planned the move well in advance so as to meet the summer shortfall.

“Preparation began a couple of months ago and we started stocking some of the popular varieties in our new cold storage facility in Barka, and also in the existing one in Muttrah. Delivery has now begun, with refrigerated trucks being sent to eight different zones.”

A network of shops has been identified at 40 locations to supply stocks covering the majority of Oman. The official said that the stock includes popular fish like kingfish, the price of which increased by 500bz in June as compared to May, according to the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries (MoAF).

Other varieties include tuna, sailfish, barracuda and croaker. “These will be available at special Ramadan prices in major markets and also at the company's outlets in Muttrah, Ghala, Al Ashkarah, Masirah, Salalah and Buraimi,” the official said.

He hoped that with the added supply, people will be able to get their daily requirement of fish at reasonable rates throughout Ramadan.

Due to a shortage of popular varieties, H E Dr Fuad bin Jaafar bin Mohammed al Sajwani, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, in May imposed a ban on the export of tuna, kingfish, sahwa, washran, sal, khayit, hamam, kafdar, talah, ghazal, debs, habs, kofdar talah and kofar fishes from June 1-September 15.

In an earlier decision, the Minister had banned exports of some varieties for six months in December last year.

Fuel Spill Contained After Albacore Boat Runs Aground United States, July 25, 12

The U.S. Coast Guard and an environmental cleanup company contained a small diesel spill Monday at the mouth of Yaquina Bay after a vessel ran aground at the start of a fishing trip.
A crew set a boom in the water to keep the fuel away from areas where shellfish and other marine life thrive.
“There’s no threat to the shellfish,” said Dawn Smith, a food safety expert for the Oregon Department of Agriculture.
The Two Mikes, a 48-foot vessel, contained about 2,000 gallons of diesel when it crashed into the north jetty about 11 p.m. Sunday. The two men onboard managed to scramble to safety on the jetty, but two dogs onboard died.
“The boat just started banging into the jetty,” said Shane Lague, the crew member. “We were right on the rocks.”

Lague jumped onto the jetty. The captain, Todd Holt, jumped off the boat but fell in the water. Lague said he pulled Holt to safety on the rocks.

A Coast Guard crew stationed at Yaquina Bay met them on the beach, where they were treated for minor injuries. The Red Cross helped the men with food and shelter, providing hotel rooms in Newport.
The boat is owned by Mike Shedore, 60, of Ilwaco, Wash., who bought it in 2010.
A sheen that appeared in the water after the boat crashed mostly dissipated during the day, said Lt. Cmdr. Kelly Thorkison, a spokeswoman for the Coast Guard. The boat is outside the channel, partially visible at low tide. The Coast Guard, working with NWFF Environmental to contain the spill, will survey the site Tuesday. When possible, divers will check the vessel.
“We’re working on a plan to assess the overall condition of the vessel and see what tanks look like,” Thorkison said.
The Coast Guard recovered two of three 55-gallon containers of diesel that were onboard, she said.
Xin Liu, manager of Oregon Oyster Farms, said he wasn’t concerned about contamination from the wreck. His company’s oyster beds, which span several acres, are about 10 miles from the jetty.
Earlier this month, the state closed Yaquina Bay to recreational mussel harvesting over a threat of paralytic shellfish poisoning. Food safety specialist Dawn Smith said the closure will stay in effect for a few more days as a precautionary measure.
The boat was due to pick up Freon in Newport for its refrigeration system and then head out to sea to catch a full load of tuna.