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Fish Fraud: Is Your Flounder a Guppy?

© The Walt Disney Company
Written by Rachel Krasna. Edited By Brittany Stockman.

You sit down to dine at your favorite seafood restaurant and order from the menu’s seafood specials; citrus infused red snapper and wasabi mashed potatoes.  It may be a bit expensive but it sounds delicious and will be well worth the price.  Chances are that your savory snapper has been swapped for a far less desirable fish.  Essentially, your dinner has been the victim of identity theft at the hand of the perch fish.  Ocean perch is easily four to eight dollars cheaper than red snapper and is regularly available on the market.  In fact, 77% of the time someone orders red snapper it is actually perch fish or several other less desirable species including catfish, rockfish, or tilapia.

To most diners, discovering that our dear Disney character “Flounder” is indeed a guppy does not make us shake our heads in disgust or place our wallets back in our pockets.  On the other hand, the fact that seafood providers take advantage of our ignorance is certainly an affront, begging the question:  how does the fishing industry get away with such blatant deception?

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Discovery Channel’s Shark Week: Aid or Detriment?

© Discovery Channel
Written by Rachel Krasna and Beth Gibson

Sharks.  The word alone evokes a sense of fear and fascination.  Movies like Steven Spielberg’s Jaws helped form the stereotype of sharks as evil and dangerous predators.  For many people, this reputation overshadows the fact that shark attacks on humans are extremely rare.  They would rather believe the sensationalism than explore the truth about these creatures.  Globally, shark populations are in radical decline, largely due to human activities such as overfishing and shark-finning.

Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, perhaps the biggest nature programming event on television today, features back-to-back documentaries about the lives of sharks and the researchers who study them.  The goal of Shark Week is to create a positive awareness and develop a more balanced reputation of sharks.  While there is a strong underlying message promoting shark conservation, there is also a great deal of hype showing sharks as vicious killers, the terrors of the sea. The average Shark Week viewer may come away from the series with a biased picture.

Along with many scientists and activists, Chris Palmer, Director of Environmental Filmmaking at American University, thinks that Discovery’s programming falls short of its main objectives.  Palmer believes that the programs focus too much on shark attacks on humans and “cute” animals such as seals and whale calves, while ignoring important elements like migration patterns, population trends and behavior studies.  Overexposed to the sensational features of sharks that draw them to watch Shark Week, viewers may feel horrified by sharks instead of inspired to help them.  Palmer states, “Filmmakers must use the storytelling techniques they would employ in any other kind of creative work…in order to engage viewers and create ethically responsible programming.”
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How do you stay informed?

How do you stay informed on current ocean issues?  Unfortunately for marine policy aficionados, no all encompassing database exists of marine affairs journals, non-profits, government agencies or commercial endeavors.  Take a look at what SeaKeepers staff frequent on the web and get up to date with what you care about most. Continue reading

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60 Ocean Leaders Infuse Ocean Issues Into the Campaigns

President and CEO of the International SeaKeepers Society, Dean Klevan, joined 60 significant ocean leaders in a call to President Obama and Former Governor Mitt Romney to protect the oceans.  On August 15th, David Helvarg of the Blue Frontier Campaign distributed a letter signed by the likes of Sylvia Earle, Fabian Cousteau and Brian Skerry to the campaigns in to infuse ocean issues into the election.