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Fish Factor

New dietary guidelines: Eat seafood at least twice weekly


February 09, 2011

Fish – It’s what’s for dinner!  For the first time ever, the U.S. government is advising all Americans to eat seafood at least twice a week for heart and brain benefits. The advisory includes pregnant and breastfeeding women.

The US Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services on Jan. 1 released new dietary guidelines as required by Congress every five years. The guidelines serve as the basis for federal nutrition policy, and come at a time when one-third of all U.S. children and over two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese. 

The new guidelines call for eating at least two servings (8 ounces) of seafood every week, which provide an average of 250 milligrams per day of marine-source omega 3’s that are packed with EPA and DHA.  Health experts say omega-3 deficiency is a leading dietary contributor to preventable deaths, mostly from heart disease.  The average

American now eats about one serving of seafood a week or less. 

What it will mean is new rules for meals served in U.S. prisons, military mess halls and school lunch rooms.  Alaska pollock and canned salmon are included on the USDA food commodities list, which will give them a foothold in all federal feeding programs.

Global fish gobble

Global fish consumption is on the rise, topping 37 pounds per person in 2009.  The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization said it will continue to increase as more people recognize the health benefits of eating seafood.  According to the FAO’s State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture Report, seafood provides over 1.5 billion people with almost 20 percent of their average intake of animal protein. China is the world’s biggest fish producer, mainly from aquaculture. 

Crab loans comin’

 It has taken six years, but NOAA Fisheries/ Financial Services Branch is finally accepting loan  applications for new entrants in the Bering Sea crab fisheries.

“When I hear six years it makes me cringe,” said Arne Fuglvog, fisheries aide to Senator Lisa Murkowski.

The fisheries agency has authority to lend up to $8 million to eligible  skippers and crew who want to buy into the Bering Sea crab fisheries. The program can finance up to 80% of the cost of purchasing crab quota shares.

Fuglvog said the money will be cut loose as soon as the federal budget gets squared away on March 4th.

“I would hope that within the next few months the first fishermen who apply will be able to get some of the federal loan money, and then buy quota either for the fall king crab fishery or next winter’s snow crab fishery,” Fuglvog said in a phone call from Washington, D.C.

“One of the things we learned from the halibut/sablefish program, is that most of the crew ends up empty handed,” Fuglvog added.

“Crewmen and guys who want to buy in for the first time really struggle to get involved in the quota market,” he said, “ because they just don’t have the capital or the collateral -they don’t have the means to jump in and buy. And it is very difficult to go out into the private lending sector.”  

Fuglvog said he believes crab stakeholders will find ways to help new entrants get into the fisheries.

“I’m hoping that the crab quota share holders and boat owners will get creative and really help their crewmen and skippers step up and buy quota,” he said. “I am very optimistic that is going to occur.”  

Get more info from NMFS Financial Services Chief Scott Houghtaling in Seattle at (206) 526-6126  or email . All applications require original signatures so they must be mailed in.

Fish wish list

The Alaska Dept. of Fish & Game is hoping  to see an increase of about $2.5 million from state coffers for the coming fiscal year.  Just over $1 million of that would go to the Commercial Fisheries Division to be shared by three regions.

A breakdown of the governor’s budget in Laws for the Sea by Bob Tkacz  showed that Southeast Alaska wants  $600,000 for finfish projects that include field and lab research for herring, black cod stock assessments in Chatham Strait, repairs for weir damage in the Chilkoot watershed, and surveys of Southeast red king crab stocks.

The Central Region wants $105,000 for two projects:  a side scan sonar for the Crescent River in Cook Inlet, and to estimate fresh water sockeye production Fish Creek.

The Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim Region seeks a $380,000 budget increase to expand research of  salmon  stocks in Norton Sound,   to hire two full time biologists, and to make up for budget shortfalls in operational costs in the northern Yukon region.

The Sport Fish Division is requesting $212,600 to repair priority culverts in salmon streams in the Mat- Su Valley, and   $130,000 to increase gillnetting of Northern Pike in Alexander Creek.

The Subsistence Division wants a $200,000 budget boost to increase surveys on subsistence harvests and  $260,000 for research on the  poor Chinook salmon returns to the Yukon.

Finally, the state Board of Fisheries wants $84,600 to hire a regulatory assistant in Bethel.    ADF&G also wants authority to accept up to $3.1 million from a Division of Wildlife Conservation fund that is bankrolled by a federal tax on guns and other hunting supplies.  Check out Laws for the Sea at

Poll pans Pebble

A new poll shows that a majority of Alaska voters oppose the Pebble Mine project, and lack trust in both foreign mining and Alaska’s permitting process.  The survey of 802 registered Alaska voters was conducted in late January by Hellenthal and Associates of Anchorage.  Interestingly, 90 % of respondents said they believe you can be pro-development and still oppose this particular mine. Other findings:     

66.5% believe the Pebble Mine is a serious or somewhat serious threat to Bristol Bay's salmon. 

66.2%   believe Alaskans cannot trust the mining industry when they say the Pebble Mine and salmon fishing can co-exist

Over 55% think the mine permitting process should be independently reviewed, rather than trusting the State to protect salmon fishing.
78.2% said they would choose renewable resources like salmon over non-renewable resources like copper.

In other mining news: 

DNR has extended the comment period for the petition to put in buffer zones (similar to logging operations) to protect the Chuitna River from coal mining.  E-mail comments by Weds., Feb. 19 to A public hearing also is scheduled in Tyonek on February 19nd. Tyonek is a closed village so permission to enter can be arranged by calling the Tyonek Administrative office at 907-583-2201.



This year marks the 21th year for this weekly column that focuses on Alaska’s seafood industry. It began in 1991 in the Anchorage Daily News, and now appears in over 20 newspapers and web sites. A daily spin off – Fish Radio – airs weekdays on 30 radio stations in Alaska. My goal is to make all people aware of the economic, social and cultural importance of Alaska’s fishing industry to our state, the nation and the world. 


Laine can be reached at msfish[AT]
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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska


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