Blue fish, Blackfish

IMG_9444I have no doubt that fall and winter will probably provide some excellent stormy days on which I can write something in a warm coffee shop. However, summer on the coast has been dynamite, and it physically pains me to be inside and/or staring at a screen on any sunny day. But, since I am trying to make this blogationship with WordPress a success, today I am caving in. (On the bright side, I’m sitting in the courtyard just outside Mink, and there is a very talented girl playing a violin. So life isn’t totally unbearable.)

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A Multitude of Drops. Or, “Thoughts from a young fisheries scientist in a changing world”

6a00e554dae3f48833015433a93749970c-800wiTomorrow is World Oceans Day. Today I am eating apricots. These small, pastel orange fruits always remind me of warm evenings at the beach. And, I’m not quite sure why (although I assume some higher level organic chemistry is involved), but the delightful taste produced when the sweetness of their flesh mixes with the saltiness of the air seems to provide me with the best circumstances for contemplating life. But, while one would probably assume that my current thoughts are organizing themselves into an exciting post in honour of this special day, the truth is, they’re not. Because I don’t really know what to say. Of course this dilemma is not for lack of want, or knowledge of the subject matter; it is because—for the first time in my life—I am trying to decide how I feel about the ocean. Well, not the ocean itself. More specifically, the future of the ocean. And how young fisheries scientists, like myself, fit in.

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Because Jaws is oh so 1975/ Happy Birthday, Mom— I love you!

No, I haven’t been hospitalized with Hep C, or died from piercing-induced septicaemia— although either of those would make for a good excuse as well as an amusing obit. I’ve just been rather busy with my thesis, so writing for pleasure has been non-existant these last few weeks. And yet, before I launch into my main topic for this post, I just want to mention a recent study led by my supervisor and including the work of several of my fisheries colleagues at UBC. The methodology they used was pretty much the same as described in my Sherlock Holmes post, and the ultimate findings of their research suggest that China under-reports its foreign catch by over 90%. If you would like to read a bit more about the real-world implications of these inaccuracies, and how the theoretical concept of catch reconstructing actually translates into applicable knowledge, give this article a go. (Hopefully I will be able to share my own published catch reconstruction in a couple of months, but that’ll all depend on the review process and whether or not it gets accepted right away.)

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Anyway, now to the topic that I’ve been meaning to write for about a month…

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Sherlock of the Sea

156720_763512498879_7004644_nThe following came about largely as a result of me trying to organize my ideas for an application to attend a marine policy course offered through Stanford. As per the typical scholarship/ conference/ grant application format, they wanted a lot of detail about my thesis and how participating in this program will be beneficial to my research. But they’re not the only ones who are curious about my work. My friends and family also often ask me what I study. And even though I think in many cases they’re just being nice/ trying to make conversation/ genetically obligated to care/ &c., sometimes I feel like there’s a genuine level of interest. Or, at the very least, mild curiosity. And, while I approach the marine realm largely from a physiological perspective and background, unfortunately my current research doesn’t involve any live specimens or experiments. So naturally I feel like a huge disappointment when people quickly realize that I don’t swim with dolphins or dive with sharks on a regular basis. Nonetheless, I still try to explain the type of work I do, and why I feel like my current branch of marine biology is equally (if not more) important.

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Roses are red, tuna are bluefin

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Valentine’s Day. Two words that most people either love or loathe. Of course everyone’s heard it before, but let’s summarize why the lovey-dovey camp likes February 14th: it’s special; it’s romantic; I have the best boyfriend/ girlfriend/ husband/ wife in the world; I get flowers/ chocolates/ jewelry/ amazing sex/ dinner out; I like to show my significant other that I care. And for the haters it goes something like this: it’s stupid, you shouldn’t need an excuse to show affection; it’s so materialistic/ overly commercial; it’s a chick holiday; I’m single.

While all of the above are generalizations, they’re also all fairly accurate. Case and point: I saw derivatives of at least 75% of them on facebook this morning. (Clearly, no further proof required.) But anyway, I can relate to both sides, although I tend to have the mindset that no, you don’t need one day a year to celebrate being a couple. But there’s also no need to go out of your way to be grouchy either. No one is forcing you to be romantic and if you feel obligated to do something nice for your partner, then hopefully you realize you’ve got some bigger relationship issues to deal with. And (believe it or not), you can have great sex the other 364 days of the year too. In fact, I really hope you do. I also hope you are spontaneous, and go on dates on Mondays, and cook nice dinners together mid-week, and surprise each other, and, most importantly – appreciate – each other, more often than not. And, personally, while I actually do think unconditional love is the most wonderful thing in the world (100% serious), I’m also have a tendency to lean toward the unpredictable side of life. Thus, I’ve come to realize that anticipating a day full of romance is not only counterintuitive, but also super boring.

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The Secret Lives of Fisheries Scientists

IMG_7965_2OK, so I figure that since I mentioned sustainable seafood in my last post, and also because I said I’d discuss it in future posts, there’s no reason for me not to write about it now. (Holy negatives, Batman. Sorry, must be Monday…) I’ll try to keep it simple and include a nice practical application (i.e. dinner) at the end.

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In a general sense, the term sustainable is probably the biggest environmental buzzword of the 2000s. Well, maybe it’s tied with climate change. And fair trade is gaining momentum. At any rate, people toss around sustainable in relation to pretty much any and every natural resource. But I’ve come to realize that, in many cases, this word is both poorly defined and understood. And, sometimes, it’s just downright misused. And while sustainability is only one very, very small piece of the complicated mess that is global fisheries, it’s still an important concept—for anyone who eats seafood.

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