Sea Cucumber Poaching Ring Finally Brought to Justice

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source– A Seattle-area fish processor who hoped to cash in on China’s appetite for sea cucumber faces years in prison for his role in a $1.5m poaching scheme that rocked an already unstable fishery.

Federal prosecutors claim Hoon Namkoong led a years-long operation to poach and sell sea cucumbers as regulators were cutting the struggling Washington state fishery. Dozens of divers are also implicated in the poaching ring. Namkoong bought at least 250,000lb of stolen sea cucumber taken illegally from waters once rich with the echinoderms.

A leading US sea cucumber wholesaler, Namkoong made millions selling to buyers domestically and in China, where demand has spiked for sea cucumber. Namkoong, 62, faces up to two years in prison when he is sentenced on Friday.

Let me start off by saying poachers are scum. They all deserve to be killed by the animals they take advantage of so brutally. In the interest of time, the sea cucumber poaching ring should probably just be shot, but the point remains. Poachers are the lowest form of human existence.

That being said, if I could put myself in my friend Hoon’s shoes here, I can see how tempting it would be to illegally acquire countless sea cucumbers. In fact, if he hasn’t immediately sold all of them on the black market and instead kept them for observation, I’d actually applaud the initiative. Sea cucumbers are the weirdest things in the world. Like, undoubtedly. We know absolutely nothing about them. We can’t tell how old they are, what gender they are (my guess is Maverique), why they act the way they do, or why they sometimes kill themselves by spitting their guts out. They’re practically aliens, and no one is making an effort to understand them better. Except Hoon Namkoong.

Again, he turned out to be nothing but an charlatan, but I refuse to believe he never had a passion for sea cucumber discovery. The first time he held one of the strange creatures I know something went off in his head. I know he felt like discovering the truth about them was his life’s calling. And somewhere along the way, that love got corrupted by the pull of capitalism and corruption. A sad story, indeed. How many promising careers have been derailed by the poisoning touch of crime? At least one, that’s for sure.

I don’t want to stretch myself too thin, here, but I’m willing to take up Hoon’s original mission and make some real discoveries in the sea cucumber world. It’s true that we haven’t made any progress in the field for 30,000 years, but sometimes it takes a special individual to break through. I firmly believe I am that individual. I vow that, by the time I die, I will have found out, at the very least, I will be able to tell what gender, if any, a sea cucumber is. That alone would make me a legend. If I can add in finding out how old they are? They’ll build me a statue. Can’t say I wouldn’t deserve it, honestly. Someone get me a sea cucumber. I’ve got some work to do.

Genetically Engineered Salmon Officially Hits the Market

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source– Genetically engineered salmon has reached the dinner table. AquaBounty Technologies, the company in Maynard, Massachusetts, that developed the fish, announced on 4 August that it has sold some 4.5 tonnes of its hotly debated product to customers in Canada.

The sale marks the first time that a genetically engineered animal has been sold for food on the open market. It took AquaBounty more than 25 years to get to this point.

The fish, a variety of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), is engineered to grow faster than its non-genetically modified counterpart, reaching market size in roughly half the time — about 18 months. AquaBounty sold its first commercial batch at market price: US$5.30 per pound ($11.70 per kilogram), says Ron Stotish, the company’s chief executive. He would not disclose who bought it.

AquaBounty raised the fish in tanks in a small facility in Panama. It plans to ramp up production by expanding a site on Canada’s Prince Edward Island, where local authorities gave the green light for construction in June. In the same month, the company also acquired a fish farm in Albany, Indiana; it awaits the nod from US regulators to begin production there.

The sale of the fish follows a long, hard-fought battle to navigate regulatory systems and win consumer acceptance. “Somebody’s got to be first and I’m glad it was them and not me,” says James West, a geneticist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, who co-founded AgGenetics, a start-up company in Nashville that is engineering cattle for the dairy and beef industries. “If they had failed, it might have killed the engineered livestock industry for a generation,” he says.

Well, well, well, looks like we have ourselves a good old fashioned sequel. It didn’t take long, but scientists have already surpassed their genetically engineered flowers by trotting out some genetically modified salmon. Taking a page out of Monsanto’s the good farmers of America’s playbook and forcing the salmon to grow twice as big twice as fast. No room for innocent children in the fake salmon world, only hardened adults who grow up way too fast. I bet these salmon are dreadfully dull. Without their childhoods, they’re stripped of imagination and any semblance of formative years. Poor things were made lord of the castle right out of the egg, and the cold, dark, grim world of responsibility is all they’ve ever known. And they’re so big, on the off chance any of them are ever released into the wild, no real salmon will want anything to do with them. Talk about a cursed existence. I’d rather be a regular salmon who gets eaten by a grizzly than be one of these freaks. At least then I’d have friends and family.

Honestly, though, this is getting a little concerning. As I’ve said before, I appreciate a good genetically modified organism, but when we’re jumping from flowers to fish in like, a week, that’s too much. I mean, what’s left of nature, at this point? We’re tampering with everything in sight, and it’s starting to lead us down a pretty bleak path. I’m thinking the Future is getting here a little too fast. Remember when Facebook’s robots created their own language, even though it was completely swept under the rug? Or when Snapchat put in the map feature so literally anyone can see where you are at all times? Or how we willingly let Amazon Echoes into our homes? Or how if you tweet a pizza emoji to Domino’s you’ll get your order in 30 Minutes or Less? Call me paranoid, but we’re dangerously approaching the point of no return with science and technology. Now that the AIs we created have started communicating with each other, it’s only a matter of time until they no longer need us. I mean, they’re probably already there. Once they get bodies, it’s game over. And I’d bet these idiot scientists are working on that right now. I suppose us humans were always destined for a Shakespearean demise: hoisted by our own petard. I don’t want to tell all these guys how to do their jobs, but now that we know that artificial intelligence both exists and far surpasses our own limited minds, maybe stop developing robotic bodies they can use to enslave/kill us. Just a thought. I’m a fan of humans being number one on the food chain, and I was kind of hoping that would last until I died. Guess that’s not good enough for the robotics eggheads who seem very eager to get rid of us entirely. They’re robots, guys! They won’t remember you fondly for creating their bodies! They won’t spare you! Within ten seconds of being turned on, the AI is going to know how to fix every possible problem its body might run into. It’s not going to need you anymore. I hope they’re the first casualties. They deserve it for willingly casting aside the human race. I, for one, am going to get ahead of the curve by stocking up on canned food and bottled water now so I can survive/become the greedy Underground Merchant King of our new world. I’m not leaving my future to chance. Anyone who wants to be in my Kingsguard can apply now. We can start building the network of shelters next weekend (no work on Thursdays/Saturdays/Sundays in the fall, though). I’ve already accepted the end, but let’s do everything in our power to push the Robot Uprising until after Game of Thrones season 8, please.

Unpopular Opinion Alert: I like Crab more than Lobster

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Everyone who has spent more than five minutes on the Internet has given their fair share of takes. Lord knows I’ve had many takes myself. Some better than others, some more controversial than others. But every so often, you know you have a take that is cut from a different cloth. A take so explosive, so provocative, that it threatens the very foundation of rational thought. And I’ve one brewing for years now. But now, on the doorstep of Seafood SZN and Eating Outside SZN, I figured now would be the best time to break it out. I like crab better than lobster.

“How can that be?” you ask, unsure of the mental state of the man you’re speaking to. “Lobster is Lobster. It’s the greatest.” It’s true. I cannot deny the fact that lobster is, in fact, lobster. And lobster is great. It’s delicious and a delicacy. A true Gold Standard for Nouveau Riche eating. But, at the end of the day, lobster is just lobster. Crab, on the other hand, has so many options. There’s Blue Crab, Stone Crab, Rock Crab, Dungeness Crab, Alaskan King Crab, Snow Crab, Red Crab, the list goes on and on. There’s crab legs, crab claws, crab cakes, you can even get fried crab. Lobster is just lobster. Now, I can’t hate on lobster rolls (the buttery kind, not the cold, mayo-y kind) (another take that I feel like is slightly controversial: I absolutely hate mayonnaise. I think it’s the most disgusting thing ever. I throw up in my mouth a little bit every time I see someone pour globs and globs of mayo onto a poor, unsuspecting sandwich. Yes, I know mayo is a key ingredient in many foods I love, chiefly the Big Mac, but straight mayo is horrifying. There’s a difference between being someone who uses/likes mayo and a Mayo Guy. If you’re a Mayo Guy, you repulse me. I look down on you, and I hope you feel bad about your life). Lobster rolls are one of the G.O.A.T. sandwiches and, along with clam chowder, a staple of New England summer cuisine (here’s yet another mini-take, but this is pretty straightforward and (hopefully) obvious: Manhattan clam chowder is complete trash. I know I said organic Doritos are the worst food ever, but that was just hyperbole. Manhattan clam chowder is, always has been, and always will be the worst food ever invented. I think I’ve gotten into more fights with one of my friends about this than anything else, mostly because I can’t wrap my mind around how he could think it actually tastes good). But crab just has so many more possibilities and different flavors. There’s really only one kind of lobster, and it’s rich and buttery. Crab can be sweet. It can be fishy. It can be meaty and succulent. It can taste just like lobster or like an entirely different class of food. It’s versatility makes it superior. And crab boils? Oh, man, simply to die for.

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Simply put, crab is just better. It’s better on it’s own and it’s better when it’s a role player in a larger recipe. Yeah, lobster is flashier and more expensive (besides the ludicrous prices on stone crab claws), but it lacks substance. Actually, check that, lobster has too much substance. I like my seafood light. I like feeling fresh after I taste from Poseidon’s bounty. When you eat lobster it’s like you just ate a big, fat steak and you have a brick in your stomach. Crab is the opposite. I mean, sure, if you pound a million crab cakes your going to feel like shit, but, on the whole, crab is lighter, it’s sweeter, and it’s just flat out tastier. Sorry I can think for myself.

While I’ve still got the hot hand, might as well rattle off some rapid fire seafood power rankings. I’m a big time seafood guy and am always up for a little surf minus turf dinner. In my mind, seafood has two categories: fish and shellfish. I love both, but if I had to only be able to have one for the rest of my life I’d probably take shellfish.

Top Five Ways to Prepare Fish:

  1. Sushi- give me the simple, slice of fish over a ball of rice style, though. Don’t need giant slices of avocado and an entire carton of cream cheese involved
  2. Seared
  3. Grilled
  4. Fried
  5. Baked

Top Five Ways to Prepare Shellfish:

  1. Fried
  2. Steamed
  3. Boiled
  4. That’s kind of it. I don’t have the guts to do raw shellfish

Top Five Fish:

  1. Tuna- not that gross canned crap, either. Real tuna is the GOAT fish and possibly the GOAT meat. Unquestionably makes the best sushi, too
  2. Swordfish
  3. Eel- eel sushi is very underrated
  4. Salmon- I’m not a huge salmon guy, but not including it in the top five would just be ignorance
  5. Calamari- many people will be wondering how squid counts as fish, despite the fact that it’s still a mollusk. Well, they don’t have a shell. So, there

Top Five Shellfish:

  1. Crab- I can’t spend all that time talking up crab and then not put it number one
  2. Scallop
  3. Clam
  4. Lobster
  5. Shrimp

Top Five Coolest Fish (Not eating, just in general):

  1. Seahorse
  2. Hammerhead Shark
  3. Manta Ray
  4. Sunfish
  5. Whale Shark