Cliff Mass, the NW Weatherman, says that the Blob is back again.
This is not good news for albacore fishermen. We have already seen the amount of our catches decrease. The American fleet as a whole is catching half of the normal amount...5,000 tons instead of 10,000-15,000 tons. This has elevated the price of our blast-bled super cold albacore up to the highest level in years. It probably will cause a price hike to the consumer. When the base price of your product goes up a dollar a pound, then a price adjustment is necessary unfortunately.
Cliff Mass's Weather blog on The Blob is noteworthy here: http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/
especially referring to September 11th entry about the blob. Here he concludes that the Blob is the offspring of persistent high pressure. July sea surface temperatures were normal in the general Northeast Pacific
but August and September saw an increase of 1-2 degrees. He also claims that the Blob has nothing to do with global warming.
The Blob is Dead!
According to two WA State meteorologists,
Cliff Mass and Nicholas Bond, “The Blob” is disappearing from the NE Pacific
Ocean and El Nino is weakening also. Both weather phenomena have wreaked havoc
on our coastal and off-shore fisheries. Last summer Albacore tuna raced far and wide for schools of bait and the winter Dungeness crab
season opened late in WA and Oregon and may open soon in CA. The CA market
squid disappeared totally this winter along with the CA sardine. The squid remain
in the cool deep waters during an El Nino. They will return next winter. The
sardine, however, follows a 55-60 yr. wax and wane cycle and we are right smack
in the middle period (2010-2030) when the biomass diminishes below fishible levels.
Without these bait fish, our albacore didn’t collect under big schools of bait
The Blob was
the result of a high pressure ridge over the North Pacific which persisted much
longer than expected. The effect was to diminish surface winds which stir up
the ocean and cause the upwelling of cold water from the deep. This is nutrient
rich water bearing zooplankton and diatoms, are an essential part of the
aquatic food chain. The coastal waters were warmer than normal from the effects
of El Nino and the off-shore waters of Washington and Oregon were warmer and
less abundant with bait fish because of The Blob.
also had a deleterious effect on the baby salmon emerging into the open ocean
from all the big river systems such as the Columbia, the Frasier, the Puget
Sound system, and the Northern California rivers. There was less food around
the coasts, and then out to sea was the Blob with virtually no bait fish. We
wish the baby salmon well on their 2-4 year ocean going journey.
will survive and come back next winter in Southern California. They thrive in
56-62 degree water and those temperatures will fill in by next Fall. Squid are bait, with a life span of 10 months
on the average. Albacore love to eat squid. Anchovies are another bait that
salmon and albacore favor. In 2014 off of Big Sur, in one hour, we saw over 40 humpback
whales, and thousands of porpoise and pilot whales feeding on massive schools
of anchovies. The anchovy stock had reached its zenith . Now the anchovy and
sardine stocks are down sliding into the trough of the 55-60 year climate cycle
which will be at its lowest abundance level for sardines in 2020. The salmon stocks
will diminish also until their reemergence in the peak years of 2030-40.
In the meantime,
the demise of The Blob and the slow demise of El Nino are very good signs that
our albacore, crab, shrimp, and squid fisheries will get back to normal. The
salmon fishery for Fraser River sockeye does not look good this summer, and the
CA sardine fishery probably won’t open until after we're in Davey Jones' Locker. Fishermen are
always optimistic or we wouldn’t throw off the lines and head to sea. We are
going fishing anyway because that’s what we do. The weather will always weather
on us and the fish supply will always wax and wane. Good riddance to both The
Blob and El Nino!
some links to blogs, articles and papers which I read along with seed catalogs
for winter fare.
Fisheries technical paper #410 (Food & Agriculture Organization of the
"Climate change and long term fluctuations of commercial catches"
|pseudo-nitzia plankton with a side of chaetocerous|
|Tuna clones....lures, "jigs"|
Zukar lure....a bubbilator
The "blob" in the Eastern North Pacific Ocean affected our 2015 albacore fishery and also the 2015-6 dungeness crab fishery off the Washington and Oregon coast. The blob was a huge plankton bloom, mostly of the pseudo-nitzschia diatom. When these particular diatoms died, they emitted domoic acid which moved up the food chain. This result did not adversely effect fish or crab. However, it can cause illness in birds, marine mammals, and humans. The levels of domoic acid are tested frequently in razor clams and in crab. Currently, there is no danger anywhere on the Washington and Oregon Coasts. Albacore tuna caught last summer in 2015 were not adversely affected by this plankton bloom.
Meanwhile this winter, jigs for tuna are readied for the season.
You always wonder...why so many variations? Is it for the fisherman or the fish? I have my favorites and they involve real feathers. There is a certain way jigs act in the water when the boat rolls; they speed up and slow down, and it is how the jig acts in this motion that determines whether I like it or not.
Probably if I just kept the hooks sharp and free of eel grass it would not matter.
The Effects of Fukushima on West Coast Seafood
One of my farmers market customers told me that she would not be buying anymore canned albacore forever. That got my attention, and I asked her why. "It's all the radiation leaking into the ocean from the Fukushima nuclear plant." How many other customers have been silently vowing to never eat fish from the Pacific Ocean
There are always two sides to every argument which predicated this new research project. It is impossible at this point to claim that I have THE answer. Here are some of the articles about Fukushima's effect on North Pacific seafood:
Explains U.S. Monitoring Strategy
Contamination from Japan, etc.
"Setting the Record Straight" ?
George Washington's blog...really
Actual testing results on fish
"Eating Fish From the Pacific Ocean Won't Turn You into a Mutant" by Michael Conathan, Director of Ocean Policy at the Center for American Progress
Oregon State University fish testing results
"Fishing for Answers off Fukushima" by Ken Buessler, a chief scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute
It's best to be self-informed on any issue. I tend to like a good scientific study. However, with computer modeling, one can noodle the data to reach pre-determined or "political" results. Science used to be our lode stone....a compass of sorts.
Posting a short Video
Hopefully this will post as a video so that you can visualize how hard three men have to pull on this net to land 200 pinks, each weighing an average of 4.2 lbs.
Jack, Andrew, and Steve roll in over 200 pinks. They will slide over the deck and into the underwater tank to hold for delivery later.
Views of the 4Way Reefnet Gear
The reefnet gear is an old Salish and Lummi Indian fishing method which traps salmon between two barges or canoes and pulls up any salmon that swim over the net strung between the two boats.
The nets and ropes used to be made of cedar bark. Compared to seining
and gillnetting, this old-time method is inefficient and requires alot of patience. The owner Jack calls it a working museum. The Seattle Times has a good article about it: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2016197678_reefnet14m.html
Labels: Pulling the fish into a bag
Fisherman on Vacation
Steve comes home for a vacation and two days later he is reef netting with the local fishermen for pink salmon: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2016197678_reefnet14m.html
We have done business with Jack and his crew for two years for their sockeye that we use in our canned wild sockeye skinless boneless pack.
Now Steve was fishing alongside with Randy, Andrew, Jack, and John, first as a guest and then as a fill-in crew.
This was nothing new. Steve's great aunt Anna Hodgson had owned the Iceberg Point reefnet gear on the south end of Lopez Island. He was on the crew there in 1965 and the experience trained his eyes and patience as to how sockeyes and kings behaved. This type of fishing is ancient as all the lines and nets in the Salish Indian times were made of cedar bark.
The basic concept is the same however. I will try to post some pictures and diagrams later.
We have 9/11 in our hearts
It has been a long time since we have been able to blog for many reasons, but I just couldn't not honor a few people on this very important day. First of all, 9/11 has been Steve's parents' wedding anniversary. Phyllis died before their 60th, and Clark just died on June 8th of 2009.
Steve and I went camping with them for every anniversary since their 50th. On that particular anniversary, we tied the boat up in the middle of albacore trolling, and took the greyhound from Crescent City, CA to Seattle....picked up my van in the gear locker and drove four hours in the rain to Iron Creek Campground in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. We woke everyone up at 11 pm but we had made it for their 50th wedding anniversary. The smiles on their faces told me all I needed to know. Clark helped dry out our sleeping bags by the fire and we basked in the celebration of a most important anniversary. That was 1996. In the ensuing years, as many of the family who could, met at Adam's Fork Campground on Sept. 11th. We brought dahlias from our garden and led mushroom and blueberry picking expeditions up the sides of Mt. Adams and other closeby fields. We caught trout and were able to brag over sauted trout with chantrelles in sherry and cream. Blueberry pancakes in the morning and chantrelle doused fish or meat for dinner were the norm. Our kids heard the old stories and made new ones. We were in the vernacular....fam-i-ly.
Now fast forward to the 9/11 which changed our country forever. As usual, we were camping at Adam's Fork on 9/11/2001 and knew nothing about the attacks. We were around the fire in the evening when a car drove by our campsite slowly. They passed by and then backed up. Phyllis walked out to see if they needed directions or some help. What they told her shook her up. She told us about the twin towers being hit by terrorists in hijacked planes. We sat around the fire trying to digest the information. I remembered Peggy Noonan's article earlier in the summer about looking at Middle Eastern men panning her church and other buildings with their video cameras and feeling that it was very creepy. I had seen the same type of men taking pictures of the Interbay train depot near Fisherman's Terminal. It was after USS Cole bombing and some of us were very nervous but for the right reasons.
Steve and I were shaken. I was disturbed to the core. I had been reading threat assessments on the internet all summer but nothing was even close to the 9/11/2001. I clutched my portable radio to my ear all night with an aching heart, in tears, knowing that my beloved country would never be the same again. We were in the beauty of America, near Mt St Helens, in God's country, but here we were isolated from the tragedy of 9/11. I feared for my children, one of whom was in Boston. I had to hear her voice. The next morning I made Steve come with me on a 40 mile drive down the mountain, down 3,000 ft of altitude to Randle, WA., where I called my daughter on the only pay phone we could find. Thank God she was safe. My son, I was able to reach later on the West Coast. Only then would I go back to the campsite. With heavy hearts, we all broke camp, and went home. Then we watched TV with America and cried along with our fellow Americans.
Later I learned one of my heroes, Rick Rescorla, had died in the twin towers, sheparding his people down the stairwells with his bull horn of songs and encouraging words. He was my hero after reading We were Soldiers Once and Young, and even more so after the movie with Mel Gibson. All the soldiers who fought at Ia Drang, never knew that they were my heroes. I was late to the realization about what they had done. But when I read their stories, I knew that if I had been a man, I would have wanted to be among them as a fellow soldier, a friend, and I will never forget. They were my contemporaries, my brothers. I could only love them from afar. I honor them today. I honor Rick Rescorla today. God rest his soul, and God bless his wife, and his friends.
So to Mom and Dad, to my father, a true patriot, and to Rick, my hero, and to all the others on 9/11.....who suffered and died.... I will always remember. Today, my heart and soul ached all day with new tears falling down old rivers.
Tuna Noodle Casserole- Part 2
There are a gazillion tuna noodle casserole recipes. Here is a start online:
1. Cooks Illustrated: http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,178,141187-243199,00.html
2. Gourmet 2004: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Tuna-Noodle-Casserole-109434
3. Skillet version: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/skillet_tuna_casserole.html
4. Healthy & Fit version: http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/recipes/taste-tests/hungry-girl/tuna-noodle-casserole-a-healthier-recipe/
5. Whole Wheat Noodle version: http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=210256
And then the Lopez locavore recipe below:
All ingredients are found within a 100 mile radius of Lopez Island except for the tuna which is caught about 200 miles off the coast of Oregon. The organic whole wheat pastry flour is milled by Bluebird Grain
Farms near Twisp, WA. which also might be on the outer perimeter of my 100 miles. I purchase it from our local Blossom Organic Grocery
and use it to bake bread and make noodles. The onion, garlic, dill and parsley we grow in our garden or find at the farmers market here. I buy local chickens from Blossom Grocery and make chicken stock which is used in the soup portion. No one on Lopez sells raw milk which calls for a trip to Blossom for "local" organic milk from the Skagit County area. As for the mushrooms, well no one will fess up to where they really found morels or chantrelles. Frozen for use when not in season, they work just fine in a casserole. That leaves the salt, pepper, and sherry as non-indigenous ingredients. I could delete the sherry, scrape the salt off our southern facing windows and grind up one of our few, meager, hot chiles, and voila'. That's going to the locovore limit. But this is just a test, so let's not go overboard.Lopez Tuna Noodle Casserole
1- 6 oz. can of Papa George Tuna
1- cup chicken stock
1/2- cup chopped wild morels or chantrelles
1- Tbsp whole wheat pastry flour
1- cup whole organic milk
1/4 cup minced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp. chopped parsley...double amount if fresh
1 tsp. dill weed...double amount if fresh
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
6 oz of homemade whole wheat noodles, cooked (about 3 cups)
1 1/2- cups of breadcrumbs...from the homemade bread of course
1/4- cup of organic butter melted
1. Cook the noodles until al dente. Drain and put aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, saute the onion and garlic on med-low in a Tb. of butter
3. Add the flour next and make a roux.
4. Gradually add the chicken broth and the milk. Stir and warm up.
5. Heat until the broth mixture is thickened, but do not boil. You can use home grown cooked potato instead of flour to thicken the broth.
6. Take saucepan off heat. Stir in thawed out mushrooms, add herbs and spices. Some folks add peas too.
7. Put noodles in a greased casserole dish or an 8x8x2 1/2 pan.
Pour the thick soup mixture over the noodles.
8. Make buttered breadcrumbs and sprinkle them over the top.
9. Bake at 350. Check at 30 minutes: if breadcrumbs are browning too fast, cover lightly with a small cookie sheet for another 10-15 min.
10. Let it rest out of the oven awhile before serving.Slow Food Land and Sea
Our local Slow Food Convivium is in San Juan County, in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. Papa George Tuna is a member of Slow Food USA
and our convivium for this area has a blog
which lists local farmers, ranchers, and fishermen. My husband is not fishing locally however because there isn't much to fish for in Washington now.
Tuna Noodle Casserole
Recently it was reported in a local newspaper that one of the most Googled recipes of late was Tuna Noodle Casserole. The writer was seeking to link the downward spiraling economic times to a resurgence in comfort foods, ala Tuna Noodle Casserole. This classic dinner of the 1950's is much maligned for its fat, salt, and processed food content, so I will offer two recipes which use our very flavorful and healthy canned albacore. One recipe is my gold standard for crew food, and a family favorite. The other is a locovore recipe where the ingredients are found within 100 miles or close to that of Lopez Island, WA. where we are currently living. I'll give the first recipe in this blog posting and the Locovore recipe in a subsequent post.Papa George Tuna Noodle Casserole
Large version: Halve the ingredients for smaller version
2- 6 oz cans of Papa George Gourmet Albacore
2- 8 oz cans of Cream of Mushroom Soup
2- 12 oz cans of Non-fat or low-fat Evaporated milk
1/2- cup dry sherry
1/2- cup minced onion
2- cloves garlic, minced
1- Tbsp parsley-dry or double that if fresh
2- tsp dill-dry or double that if fresh
1- tsp salt
1/4- tsp white pepper
12 oz bag of noodles, medium or wide....cooked
3- cups Panko crumbs
1/3- cup melted butter or marjerine
1. Cook noodles and drain when al dente.
2. Saute onion in butter or oil ( 2 tsp or so) in a deep sauce pan until onions are translucent and sweet, add garlic part way through. Med-low heat.
3. Add soup, milk, sherry, herbs, and spices. Stir and warm.
4. Add chunks of Papa George canned albacore. Some folks add the water in the can too for more flavor.
5. Lightly grease a casserole dish or 9 X 12 baking pan.
6. Spread noodles in casserole dish, and pour tuna soup mixture over all. Gently move the mixture around to mix.
7. Cover with Panko crumbs mixed with melted butter.
8. Bake covered with foil for 35 minutes. Uncover for 15 minutes or until crumbs are golden. Let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving. 350 degree oven.
Sushi Standards by Blue Ocean Institute
There is a new sustainable seafood guide to ocean friendly sushi put forward by the Blue Ocean Institute. This guide can be downloaded at Blue Ocean Institute's new website
. A query may also be sent by text to FishPhone- text FISH and the species name to 30644 for the instant sustainability info.
We participated in the Lopez Island Pre-school Bazaar yesterday and sold a lot of canned fish. Most of our customers are savvy to the sustainability issues. There seem to be less concern over the mercury debate and more concern about sustainability. Our new offering of Cold Smoked Wild King Salmon is receiving more attention and accolades.
I participate in a volunteer group on Lopez Island which studies the amount, species, ocean salinity, and stomach contents of juvenile salmon as they swim by our island's south end. We just finished our last lab for the year in which we discovered that the baby salmon were eating mostly insects as compared to the early summer when their diet consisted of crustaceans, plankton, and marine invertebrate larvae.