Making Sustainable Seafood Choices in Glasgow

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by Edd Hind

One of the reasons I became I marine scientist is because I love eating fish. It’s a healthy thing to do, but more importantly they taste delicious! Nevertheless, a taste for the juicy white flesh of cod, the salty aftertaste of an oyster, or the flavour explosion of mackerel can clearly be an ethical conundrum for people in our line of work.

At IMCC3, hopefully we can all share knowledge and help make decisions that will ensure I, and others like me, don’t have to feel guilty about our fetish for fish. The good news, in the meantime, is that we certainly won’t have to regret eating seafood while we are in Glasgow. The IMCC team have been researching the vibrant sustainable seafood scene in Scotland’s largest city. The following are just a couple of the great options.

Celebrity British chef Jamie Oliver has been a great patron for the oceans in the last decade, and in conjunction with IMCC, his Jamie’s Italian restaurant will be putting on a special sustainable Shellfish Supper on the evening of August 16th with a presentation on sustainable seafood in Scotland. This event is full, but IMCC3 delegates can try to make a reservation at Jamie’s Italian during their stay in Glasgow.

Don’t stop there though! A visit to the UK is not complete without tasting the national delicacy of fish ‘n’ chips. We’ve been in contact with top Glasgow ‘chipper’ and seafood restaurant, Gandolfi Fish, who were more than happy to tell you about both their seafood sourcing policies and what you should eat when at the conference.

IMCC: What first motivated you to start selling sustainable fish?

Gandolfi Fish: At Gandolfi Fish, we believe that using sustainable fish supplies is the only way to run an efficient restaurant. It is not a question of doing the right thing; it’s more a question of doing the only thing you can to ensure healthy oceans.

IMCC: What types of sustainable fish are you selling, and how are you cooking them?

Gandolfi Fish: One of our biggest selling fish is Halibut, sourced from a farm in Gigha.  We serve it grilled with creamed leeks, peas and bacon.

IMCC: If the delegates at the 3rd International Marine Conservation Congress should eat one thing while they are in Glasgow, what should it be?

Gandolfi Fish: They should definitely try pan seared scallops with black pudding. It’s a very classic combination, and Stornoway Black pudding has a protected status now in Scotland. We serve hand-dived Isle of Mull scallops this way, along with pear and cider cream.

That. Sounds. Delicious! See you at IMCC, where I will be leaping head first into a tasty bowl of ethically sourced Cullen Skink.

Jamie’s Italian is located 7 George Square, Glasgow, G2 1DY and can be contacted on +44 0141 404 2690

Gandolfi Fish is located 84-86 Albion Street, Glasgow G1 1NY. You can take away or make a reservation on +44-141-552-9475

-Edd Hind is a Marine Resource Management faculty member with the School for Field Studies. He is also on the Communications Committee for IMCC3.

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Getting Involved: Basking Shark Scotland Tours

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By Brinkley Dinsmore

Cetorhinus maximus  is known by many names—sun-fish, bone shark, elephant shark, sail-fish, hoe-mother—but most commonly as the basking shark. This name is derived from their seasonal behavior of floating along the surface of the water, ‘basking’ in the sun, enormous mouths open wide for feeding. They don’t call them gentle giants just because they’re one of three species of plankton-eating sharks —these fish are the second largest fish in the world, sometimes reaching 12m in length. And where are these massive, passive sharks to be found when summer rolls around?  According to Shane Wasik, “the Western Isles of Scotland could be one of the most important international hotspots for them.”

Shane is the owner and operator of Basking Shark Scotland, a IMCC3 Basking Shark Scotland Logogroup dedicated not only to leading boat tours that allow people to see these amazing animals in person, but also to responsible practices concerning wildlife tourism.

Historically the basking shark has been targeted, because of it’s size and slow speed, for its valuable leather, meat, and liver oil. In the UK they now flourish under full protection, recently granted in 1998 under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981). Similar full protection has been granted in Malta, New Zealand, and parts of the United States, and the species has partial protection under CITES.

Nevertheless, their commercial value has led to over-exploitation and severe depletion of populations. Demand for basking shark products is still high in Asia, where the fins are used in soup and cartilage is an ingredient of traditional Chinese medicine. The continued need to protect these animals has resulted in compelling conservation efforts that have seen growing interest in the last several years, in part because of operations like Basking Shark Scotland.

If you find yourself heading to Scotland this summer, it would be a perfect time to take a tour and get involved, as Shane tells us that “Seasonally in summer months they arrive in big numbers, attracted by rich plankton and possibly for mating. Truly an ocean wanderer, some tagged sharks from the area have travelled as far as the Canary Islands and crossed the Atlantic reaching a depth of over 1200m.” The migratory habits of these sharks make scientific study of them difficult, and as always, conservation work is not yet finished.

Shane and his crew consciously contribute to the responsible study of and development of interest in these animals. Shane explains why, saying that as the basking shark is “already protected in UK waters, given the sharks massive migrations it’s of great importance that the sharks have full international protection due their low fecundity rate.  During our Basking Shark trips numerous data is recorded so that continuous monitoring of the population can be undertaken and fed back to both Scottish and internationally based scientists.”

Interested in getting more involved in the conservation of these enigmatic wonders of the ocean? Shane’s Basking Shark Scotland is offering reduced rates on basking shark outings for IMCC3 delegates.  For more information and to take advantage of this opportunity, visit the IMCC3 Discounted Activities page.

 —Brinkley Dinsmore graduated in May 2014 from George Mason University, where she studied English and Biology. She is the Communications Intern for IMCC3 and plans to stay involved in the world of conservation communication. 

The Ecology of Haggis: Food or Friend?

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By Brinkley Dinsmore

The traditional Scottish dish, haggis, has enjoyed worldwide popularity due to its savory flavor and overall Scottish-ness. Before you indulge, you may find yourself wondering…what is this haggis? Some wild creature of the glens?

The elusive wild haggis, Haggis scoticus, is the cryptozoological namesake of the traditional dish. It is a mysterious animal revered by the Scottish, doubted by the English, and hunted by many an eager American tourist.

A representation of the wild haggis next to its culinary counterpart.

A representation of the wild haggis next to its culinary counterpart.

Wild haggii are said to inhabit the Scottish highlands, a landscape to which they are perfectly adapted: the legs on one side of the body are significantly longer than the legs of the otherside.

Their ability to maintain balance on the Scottish hills is unparalleled—in one direction. There are actually two subspecies of haggii, known as leftus and ius, named for their dominant leg side. The leftus populations are reported to run clockwise around the hilltops, if seen from above, and the ius runs counterclockwise. Their disparate leg lengths give them a unique advantage in their ability to move, but rather limits their ability to change direction—if a leftus were to attempt a counterclockwise jaunt around the hill, it would promptly roll right down the hill, likely into a bog.  This crucial fact of life for the haggis makes inter-subspecies mating nearly impossible and has contributed to their speciation.

There have been recent reports that wild haggii have been seen riding the Loch Ness monster, which is fully ridiculous—neither the ius or leftus  could keep its balance on such a beast. British disinters have posited that the apparent difference in haggis leg length is due to a predator-avoidance strategy that involves standing in a bog. This is also ridiculous as it completely ignores the deeply ingrained aversion to bogs that haggii have developed in the name of self-preservation. Belief in the wild haggis remains strong, however—33% of American tourists are certain that this creature can be found in Scotland.

The true skill of Haggis scoticus  is their ability to avoid humans. Unable to catch wild haggis regularly enough to keep up with demand, humans created a substitute haggis for regular consumption. A mix of offal  minced with spices and salt, and traditionally simmered in a casing of sheep stomach, haggis is served with “neeps” and “tatties” (turnips and potatoes). Never fear! For those of you that are opposed to eating all animals, mythical or observed, they do have a vegetarian version.

If you haven’t tried haggis yet, you’ll have ample opportunity to indulge guilt free while you’re in Scotland for the 3rd International Marine Conservation Congress.  Feel free to use your new knowledge about the wild haggis to educate any Americans you encounter—they may have the chance to tromp out on the glens and observe them in their natural habitat!

 

Brinkley Dinsmore is graduating from George Mason University in May of 2014. She is the Communications intern for IMCC3. 

IMCC for Beginners: A Student’s Perspective

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By Katheryn Patterson

If you’ve never been to an international conference, the IMCC is a great way to get your toes wet!

I remember attending my first international conference, only knowing three other people in a brand new country. It was very intimidating for new participants and I had a really hard time getting to know other delegates. When I attended my first IMCC, I was amazed at the contrast.  The laid-back nature of the International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC) and its incredibly welcoming delegates makes students feel comfortable from the start and allows for ample networking opportunities.

DSCN5073One reason I continue to go to IMCC is that I always find a new perspective or angle for my research after attending, due to the interdisciplinary nature of the congress and diversity of its attendees. There really is something for everyone at IMCC no matter if you are a scientist, in policy, communication, academia, non-governmental, governmental work, or any other field. The list of affiliations and disciplines represented at the congress is endless! For this reason, IMCC has always been a successful venue for students in terms of finding future mentors, graduate committee members, collaborators, funding, and even employment opportunities.

The IMCC organizers and their Student Committee go to extreme lengths to enroll and support student delegates, who account for 23 percent of the delegates at the last congress in 2012. We are expecting an even greater number of student delegates at the 3rd IMCC in Scotland, 14-19 August 2014, due to the close proximity of several universities featuring marine programs in the areas surrounding Glasgow. With this in mind, the student committee has put a great deal of time, effort, and thought into the student-focused activities that will be held this year.

Karaoke, anyone?

Karaoke, anyone?

We always try to offer a good mix of professional-development workshops, where students walk away from the congress with new skills, and social-events – and as we say in the south (U.S.) “Ya’ll, it is time to step away from the books, models, and stats to take the night off to celebrate your successes and make new friends!”

For me personally, IMCC represents so much more than the average scientific conference.  The presenters understand the interdisciplinary nature of the work in this field, which means you don’t find new research being presented simply for the science or raw data—instead, presentations address bigger application questions such as “what do these results MEAN,” or “what applications do these findings have?” Since I believe that many stakeholders have valuable perspectives to offer in marine conservation, this partnership-based approach gives me tools and perspectives that make my efforts more effective.

The Society for Conservation Biology’s Marine Section Board has worked diligently to ensure that there is a great sense of community among our marine section delegates and this is incredibly transparent at our congress. We have great student-specific events lined up for IMCC3 and we hope to see you there!

Katheryn Patterson is our Student Committee Co-Chair and Ph.D. Candidate, Dept. of Environmental Science & Policiy, George Mason University. Find her on Twitter @MarineKatPat

The Benefits of Attendance: IMCC3

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by Edd Hind

 

Without the International Marine Conservation Congresses (IMCC), I very much doubt I would be where I am today, professionally. At the first IMCC in 2009, I learned from experts in my field the methodology that would become central to my doctoral research. Two and a half years ago at IMCC2 in downtown Victoria, British Columbia, I shared sustainable seafood and locally brewed beer with a group of strangers who are now trusted collaborators. It’s as a result of these experiences that I think the IMCC is one of the “must attend” marine conservation conferences. The board members of the Marine Section of the Society for Conservation Biology (SCB) have been putting their heads together over the last week to state why they too believe that IMCC3 should be your “must attend” conference this year. Here’s what they had to say:

  • IMCC has a history of getting people with different experience levels and areas of expertise together to exchange ideas for the benefit of all involved. Alongside many interactive workshops and symposia, IMCC3 already has many student events scheduled.
  • Some of the best theories or ideas in science have come out because of a couple of strangers, or even friends, getting together over a coffee or a beer. The second IMCC had nine scheduled social events, and IMCC3 will provide similar opportunities.
  • Over five days, you will be exposed to a flood of new ideas, hypotheses, methods/techniques, analyses and findings—any scientists that say that’s not valuable might as well burn all their books, disconnect their computers from the internet, and go back to the middle ages while they’re at it!
  • The program will include workshops and courses that teach tangible skills, such as software, applications, and communication. Many marine scientists and managers have learned how to communicate with the media and use packages like Marxan at previous IMCCs. In Glasgow, there will be opportunities not only to develop your social media and GIS skills, but to apply those skills to causes you care about. You’ll have the opportunity to rescue marine mammals!
  • Conferences are perfect places to network for funding and research contacts. The previous IMCCs have attracted more than 1200 delegates per meeting. That’s a lot of opportunities to connect!
  • Remember, astronauts are the only scientists that work well in a vacuum. There will be no astronauts or vacuums at IMCC3!

IMCC3 is being held in Glasgow, Scotland, from 14-18 August 2014. More details about the meeting can be found at the conferences dedicated website.  I’m looking forward to seeing you there so we can share ideas over a wee dram of coffee or world-class whisky!

 

Edd Hind is a resident lecturer for the School for Field Studies. He is a member of the IMCC3 Communications Committee.

Plenary Focus: Dr. Heather Koldewey Highlights Positive Examples of Marine Conservation

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Dr. Heather Koldewey, marine biologist and seahorse specialist, will be featured as a plenary speaker at the 3rd International Marine Conservation Congress in August 2014. (Photo courtesy of Heather Koldewey)

Dr. Heather Koldewey, marine biologist and seahorse specialist, will be featured as a plenary speaker at the 3rd International Marine Conservation Congress in August 2014.
(Photo courtesy of Heather Koldewey)

Dr. Heather Koldewey is involved in several projects around the world, making her familiar with the diverse difficulties in marine research, as well as incidences of conservation success. The Head of Global Conservation Programmes for the Zoological Society of London, she is also a co-founder of Project Seahorse. She strives to directly engage aquariums in marine conservation initiatives and has researched the impact of the aquarium trade on marine fishes and invertebrates. She is currently involved in marine conservation projects in the Philippines, Mozambique, Cameroon and the UK Overseas Territories, particularly the Chagos archipelago and the Pitcairn Islands.

Koldewey has led innovative approaches and partnerships at ZSL and will be speaking at the 3rd International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC3) on hope and innovation in marine conservation. Koldewey explains that many marine conservation issues have been identified, and she hopes to inspire action to realize the means to resolve those issues. “By highlighting some positive examples in marine conservation, I hope to generate more energy behind the replication of positive case studies and build on solutions,” she stated.

Koldewey is considered an expert of many facets of conservation. She has studied topics such as marine and freshwater conservation, seahorse biology and genetics, the impacts of aquaculture and sustainable seafood, to name a few. For her doctoral dissertation, she studied the genetics of brown trout (Salmo trutta) in Welsh rivers. She is a research associate at University College London and the University of Exeter. She is also a board member of the Chagos Conservation Trust and Shark Trust. Additionally, she is the Chair of the Fish Section of the IUCN Re-introduction Specialist Group and a UK government zoo inspector.

Koldewey said she is honored to be a plenary speaker for IMCC3. She stated, “IMCC3 provides an extraordinary opportunity to capitalize on having an international, diverse, high-caliber group of people in the same place at the same time, to focus on solutions and make big, bold and positive changes for our oceans. I feel lucky to have the chance to share my experiences – and to listen and to learn.”

Koldewey will be featured as an IMCC3 plenary speaker on 15 August 2014 at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in Glasgow to kick off the main scientific program.

Follow Koldewey on Twitter @HeatherKoldewey.

Samantha Oester is Communications Chair for IMCC3. She can be reached at soester@gmu.edu for information on the IMCC3 Plenary Speakers and other facets of the Congress.

Plenary Focus: Dr. Elliott Norse Emphasizes Big Ideas & Large-Scale Initiative

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by Samantha Oester 

Dr. Elliott Norse, marine conservation scientist and policy , will be featured as a plenary speaker at the 3rd International Marine Conservation Congress in August 2014. (Photo courtesy of Marine Conservation Institute)

Dr. Elliott Norse, marine conservation scientist and policy , will be featured as a plenary speaker at the 3rd International Marine Conservation Congress in August 2014.
(Photo courtesy of Marine Conservation Institute)

Dr. Elliott Norse said it has taken several decades of academic training, research and career experience to learn to “save the diversity of life in a perilous, complex, anthropocentric world.” His history includes a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California and a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Iowa, as well as work at the US Environmental Protection Agency, White House Council on Environmental Quality, Ecological Society of America, The Wilderness Society and Ocean Conservancy. He founded the Marine Conservation Institute in 1996, where he is currently Chief Scientist. He is considered an expert in marine biology, marine conservation, environmental policy and conservation strategy.

Norse will be speaking at the 3rd International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC3) in a speech titled, “A RAM-sized vision to save the world’s marine species.” This talk is in honor of his late friend and colleague Dr. Ransom A Myers. Norse explained that marine life is more imperiled than when he began as a marine scientist, that “ignorance and short-sightedness are our worst enemies,” and that working together is far more effective in saving the world’s oceans. “To succeed we need to go big, regional, at very least, or global, to win enduring conservation for the world’s oceans,” Norse declared. “We won’t get many chances. We need to be smart enough to get it right the first time. That’s why I’ve synthesized all I’ve learned in my career to talk with IMCC3 participants about the most important thing we will ever do: create the Global Ocean Refuge System (GLORES), the oceans’ in situ equivalent of the Global Seed Vault in Svalbard, to be the safety net for the Earth’s marine life.”

Norse is lauded as one of the world’s top marine conservation scientists. He is a Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation and was President of the Society for Conservation Biology’s Marine Section. He received the Nancy Foster Award for Habitat Conservation from the National Marine Fisheries Service and was named Brooklyn College 2008 Distinguished Alumnus. Additionally, he was awarded the 2012 Chairman’s Medal from the Seattle Aquarium.

Norse emphasized the importance of effective working relationships and is appreciative of the invitation to speak at IMCC in honor of Myers. Norse stated, “I feel deeply honored to be chosen as the Ransom A. Myers Memorial Lecturer to old friends and new friends at IMCC3. I hope RAM’s vision and the vision in this talk will inspire [everyone] to contribute to saving marine life, as we, marine conservation scientists, are uniquely equipped to do.”

IMCC3 is honored to have Norse close the conference’s main scientific program.

Norse will be featured as an IMCC3 plenary speaker on 18 August 2014 at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in Glasgow as the Dr. Ransom A. Myers Memorial Lecturer. Myers (1952-2007) was a world-renowned marine conservation scientist who was cited in Fortune magazine as one of the world’s ten people to watch for working to develop new and better ways to husband the wealth beneath the sea. He was known for his outward passion for marine conservation and his big ideas, projects and initiatives.

Follow Marine Conservation Institute on Twitter @savingoceans.

Samantha Oester is Communications Chair for IMCC3. She can be reached at soester@gmu.edu for information on the IMCC3 Plenary Speakers and other facets of the Congress.