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Due to COVID-19, the recent closure of all Southern California piers was a major issue for subsistence anglers. As piers now begin to reopen, Heal the Bay’s Angler Outreach Program Manager, Frankie Orrala, gives tips on consuming seafood that is healthy and sustainable. 

Staying healthy during COVID-19 is extremely important. Not only should we accommodate social distancing, wear facial coverings when out, and practice good sanitation, but we should also pay attention to the food we put in our bodies. Here are some helpful tips on how to eat healthy and sustainable seafood now and in the future.

Where does seafood sold in the US come from?

Fisheries in the United States are generally well managed thanks to the federal Magnuson-Stevens Act and the California Marine Life Protection Act. However, the US imports over 90 percent of its seafood from abroad, and unfortunately the bulk of it comes from places with weak fisheries management systems or from areas experiencing human rights abuses. When shopping for fish or seafood, it can be difficult to trace a product back to the source in order to understand local management practices and regulations.

How to shop for healthy and sustainable seafood

When purchasing seafood that is labeled with the source location, use Seafood Watch and the Marine Resources Stewardship Council to see if the seafood has been caught sustainably.

Another good way to get sustainably caught fish is by eating seafood sourced locally, especially here in California. Even in the US some fish can be non-sustainably caught, contaminated, or otherwise unhealthy to consume. So it is always best to check Seafood Watch and the Marine Resources Stewardship Council as well as ask your seafood provider if more information is available.

Best practices for fishing in SoCal

In Southern California, many fish caught from local piers are contaminated with DDT and PCBs. Some examples of such fish are white croaker, barred sand bass, barracuda, topsmelt, and black croaker. The best way to avoid eating these contaminants is to choose fish that are deemed healthy to eat and consume only the fillet of certain fish from this area. By eating only the fillet and removing the skin, the organs, and fatty parts of the fish, you can reduce the level of these chemicals and avoid possible negative health effects. People who regularly eat contaminated fish face greater health risks because of prolonged exposure to toxic chemicals.

Heal the Bay’s Angler Outreach Program, through the Fish Contamination Education Collaborative (FCEC), educates pier anglers about the risks of consuming contaminated fish and how they can protect their health. However, not only anglers are exposed to these contaminated fish – some of these fish appear in local markets for consumer purchase.

It’s important to note that exposure to DDT and PCBs will not make people immediately sick. Continuous, low level exposure may build up in the body and increase risk of developing health problems such as chronic health conditions, liver damage, decreased ability to fight diseases, reproductive harm, neurological effects, and developmental effects.

To learn more about eating healthy fish, visit www.pvsfish.org and check out the video below from the FCEC on how to prepare your fish safely.


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angler outreach los angeles county

Mantenerse saludable durante la pandemia de COVID-19 es extremadamente importante. No solo debemos practicar pautas de distancia social y buen saneamiento, sino que debemos prestar atención a los alimentos que llevamos a nuestra mesa. Siga leyendo para aprender cómo comer pescados saludables y sostenibles ahora y en el futuro.

La pesca en los Estados Unidos generalmente está bien administrada, gracias a la Ley Federal Magnuson-Stevens y Ley de Protección de la Vida Marina de California . Sin embargo, EE. UU. importa más del 90 por ciento de sus productos pesqueros del extranjero, y puede ser difícil rastrear esos productos. Muchos de ellos provienen de países con una gestión pesquera débil y de lugares con problemas pesqueros o violaciones de los derechos humanos. Cuando compre mariscos en el extranjero, usa recursos como el de Seafood Watch y el Marine Resources Stewardship Council para ayudarte a encontrar mariscos que hayan sido capturados de manera sostenible. Una de las mejores maneras de garantizar la captura sostenible de pescado es comiendo localmente, especialmente aquí en California. Sin embargo, algunos de los peces en nuestros mares locales están contaminados y no son saludables para el consumo.

En el sur de California, muchos de los peces capturados de muelles están contaminados con DDT y PCB, como la corvineta blanca, cabrilla, barracuda, pejerrey y corvineta negra. La mejor manera de evitar comer estos peces con estos contaminantes, es elegiendo ciertos peces de esta área que sean saludables para el consumo y solo el filete.

Al comer solo el filete y eliminando la piel, visceras y partes grasosas del pescado, podríamos reducir el nivel de estos químicos y evitaríamos posibles efectos negativos para la salud. Las personas que comen pescado contaminado regularmente enfrentan mayores riesgos de salud debido a la exposición prolongada a estos químicos. El Programa Educacional Pesquero de Heal the Bay, a través del Grupo Educacional sobre la Contaminación de Peces (FCEC, por sius siglas en inglés), educa a los pescadores de muelles sobre los riesgos de consumir pescado contaminado y cómo pueden proteger su salud. Sin embargo, no tienes que ser un pescador para exponerte a estos peces contaminados: algunos de ellos han aparecido en mercados locales para la compra del consumidor.

Es importante tener en cuenta que la exposición al DDT y PCB no enfermará a las personas de inmediato. La exposición continua de bajo nivel puede acumularse en el cuerpo y aumentar el riesgo de desarrollar problemas de salud, como riesgos de contraer cáncer, mayores problemas de salud no cancerosos pero crónicos, daño hepático, disminución de la capacidad para combatir enfermedades, daño reproductivo, efectos neurológicos y efectos durante el desarrollo.

Desafortunadamente, la pesca en los muelles del sur de California se ha convertido en un problema importante para los pescadores de subsistencia debido al problema que enfrentamos con COVID-19 y el cierre de todos los muelles. A medida que los muelles comiencen a reabrir, esperamos que los pescadores y todos los que aman comer pescado tomen decisiones saludables al informarse sobre los problemas de contaminación de los peces y la sostenibilidad.

Para obtener más información sobre cómo comer pescado saludable, visite www.pvsfish.org y consulte el siguiente enlace del FCEC sobre cómo preparar su pescado de manera segura:


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Heal the Bay’s Angler Outreach Program Manager, Frankie Orrala, shares the program’s positive impacts and successes from over the last 17 years.

Heal the Bay’s Angler Outreach Program (AOP) is celebrating 17 years! This program is designed to educate pier and shore anglers in Los Angeles and Orange County about the risks of consuming fish contaminated with toxins such as dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Created in 2003, AOP is a component of the Fish Contamination Education Collaboration (FCEC) and managed by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as part of a far-reaching public education and outreach program. Notably, the program also works in association with federal and state agencies as well as local community organizations.

The FCEC was established to address a major contamination site (aka Superfund site) off the coast of Los Angeles, along the Palos Verdes shelf. DDT and PCBs were historically discharged into the ocean near the Palos Verdes Peninsula, pollution which still exists in the sediment today. These toxins can travel through the food chain into fish and potentially have negative impacts on human health if the fish are eaten; certain species of fish and certain areas are more likely to be contaminated.

The goal of the AOP is to educate anglers about this contamination and share which fish should be avoided. During visits to different piers in Southern California, Heal the Bay’s educational team has interacted with diverse fishing communities and outreach is conducted in multiple languages. Heal the Bay is proud to have a team of bilingual staff who have educated Southern California pier anglers in multiple languages, including: Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Khmer and Russian.

Since its inception 17 years ago, Heal the Bay’s AOP team has educated more than 170,000 pier anglers. Along the way, we have heard many stories and learned a lot about the people who frequently fish on our local piers. We appreciate these anglers and the knowledge and experiences they share with us.

Awards Received at the National Level

In 2009, the EPA presented two prestigious awards to the Fish Contamination Education Collaborative. FCEC was recognized for its work to protect the most vulnerable populations in Southern California from the health risks of consuming fish contaminated with DDT and PCBs; the other award was given to Heal the Bay and all FCEC partners in Los Angeles for Achievement in Environmental Justice.

On behalf of the AOP and Heal the Bay, I traveled to Washington D.C.  to receive the distinguished award in recognition of Citizen Excellence in Community Involvement. This award is presented annually to an individual or community group working with a Superfund team for outstanding achievements in the field of environmental protection.

Heal the Bay was thrilled to be selected to present to the FCEC among other national projects. The recognition was significant as it confirmed Heal the Bay’s work is truly protecting the health of all people, especially communities with economic and social disadvantages.

 

2009 Award Winner: Frankie Orrala of Heal the Bay receiving the Citizen Excellence in Community Involvement and Environmental Justice Achievement Awards

In addition to accepting this award in Washington D.C, in 2009, I traveled to Ecuador in South America, along with scientists from the National Fisheries Institute (Instituto Nacional de Pesca) as well as professors, researchers and students from the University of Guayaquil. We came together to talk about FCEC’s efforts to monitor pollution and educate the public about its effect on human and environmental health.

The international interest our program receives is an honor; the AOP team is busy building on these relationships and with more communities as they are facing similar problems as Southern California.

Continuing to advance environmental justice is a critical objective of our work. Moving forward, Heal the Bay’s AOP program remains committed to educating and protecting chronically underserved populations in the region, many of whom are exposed to higher rates of pollution compared to the general population.

In closing, there are many reasons for the AOP team’s continued success, from our great team members to the communities we work with, to the experts who are providing us with advice. All of it wouldn’t be possible without Heal the Bay’s dedicated supporters and for that we say THANK YOU!


To learn more about our program, visit www.pvsfish.org and if you want to join our bilingual team call us at 310-451-1500 or visit our site at www.healthebay.org

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El Programa Educacional Pesquero de Heal the Bay (AOP, por sus siglas en inglés) es un programa educativo dirigido a los pescadores de muelles y zona costera de los Condados de Los Angeles y Condado de Orange sobre los riesgos de consumir pescado contaminado con toxinas como el dicloro-difenil-tricloroetane (DDT) y los bifenilos policlorinados(PCBs). AOP es un componente del Grupo Educacional sobre la Contaminación de Peces (FCEC), por sus siglas en inglés) creado en el 2003 y administrado por la Agencia de Protección Ambiental (EPA, por sus siglas en inglés) como parte de un programa de educación pública, en asociación con otras agencias federales, estatales, y organizaciones comunitarias locales. 

El FCEC se estableció porque hay un sitio importante de contaminación (o sitio Superfund) frente a la costa de Los Angeles en la plataforma de Palos Verdes. El DDT y PCB se descargaron hisóricamente en el océano cerca de la península de Palos Verdes y todavía permanecen en el sedimento. Estas toxinas pueden viajar a través de la cadena alimenticia hacia los peces y potencialmente tener impactos negativos en la salud humana. Ciertas especies de peces y ciertas áreas tienen más probabilidades de estar contaminadas.

El objetivo del AOP es educar a los pescadores sobre la contaminación y qué peces deben evitarse. A lo largo de nuestras visitas a diferentes muelles en el sur de California, nuestro equipo educativo ha interactuado con diversas comunidades pesqueras. La divulgación se realiza en varios idiomas; Por esta razón, el equipo de Heal the Bay cuenta con un personal bilingüe que ha cubierto, con el tiempo, todos los diferentes grupos de pescadores de muelle del sur de California en varios idiomas, incluidos: español, chino, tagalo, vietnamita, camboyano y ruso.

Desde los inicios del programa, el equipo de Heal the Bay ha educado a más de 170,000 pescadores de muelles. Como tal, hemos escuchado muchas historias y aprendido mucho sobre las personas que frecuentemente pescan en nuestros muelles locales. Apreciamos a estos pescadores que comparten con nosotros sus conocimientos y experiencias.

Premios recibidos a nivel nacional

En 2009, la Agencia de Protección Ambiental de EE. UU. otorgó dos prestigiosos premios al Grupo Educacional sobre Contaminación de Peces. Para ese entonces, viajé hasta Washington D.C. para recibir tan distinguido reconocimiento a la Excelencia Ciudadana en Participación Comunitaria. Este premio se entrega anualmente a un individuo o grupo comunitario que trabaja con un equipo de sitios Superfund por los logros sobresalientes que se hayan realizado en el campo de la protección ambiental. El FCEC fue reconocido por su trabajo por proteger a las poblaciones más vulnerables del sur de California de los riesgos de salud que implica consumir pescados contaminado con DDT y PCB. El otro premio fue otorgado a Heal the Bay y a todos los socios de FCEC en Los Ángeles por Logro en Justicia Ambiental.

Este reconocimiento es significativo para Heal the Bay porque muestra que estamos logrando nuestro objetivo de proteger la salud para todos, especialmente a las comunidades con desventajas económicas y sociales. Heal the Bay tuvo el honor de ser seleccionado y representar a FCEC de una serie de proyectos nacionales. La justicia ambiental es un componente principal de nuestro trabajo, ya que nos centramos en segmentos de la población que con demasiada frecuencia se descuidan.

 

Ganador del Premio 2009: Frankie Orrala de Heal the Bay recibió los Premios a la Excelencia Ciudadana en Participación Comunitaria y Logro en Justicia Ambiental.

Además de aceptar este premio en la capital, también viajé a Ecuador en América del Sur, junto con científicos del Instituto Nacional de Pesca y profesores, investigadores y estudiantes de la Universidad de Guayaquil. Nos reunimos y hablamos de los esfuerzos de FCEC para monitorear la contaminación y educar al público sobre su efecto en la salud humana y ambiental. El interés internacional de nuestro programa es un honor, y esperamos construir más relaciones en el futuro con comunidades que enfrentan problemas similares que tenemos en el sur de California.

Hay muchas razones para nuestro éxito continuo del programa AOP de Heal the Bay, desde los miembros de nuestro gran equipo, comunidades con las que trabajamos, hasta de los expertos que nos brindan asesoramiento. ¡Todo esto no sería posible sin nuestros seguidores y por eso te lo agradecemos!


Para obtener más información sobre nuestro programa, visite www.pvsfish.org y si deseas unirte a nuestro equipo bilingüe llámenos al 310-451-1500 o visita nuestro sitio www.healthebay.org

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Frankie Orrala, our Angler Outreach Program Manager, and staff scientist Dana Murray report on Heal the Bay’s efforts to educate anglers at local piers about sustainable fishing techniques and protecting sharks.

Jan. 27, 2015 — Fresh, salty air whips our faces as we approach a middle-aged man angling on Venice Pier. His eyes are on the water as he reels in his catch. The excitement heats up, as the man uses all his strength and skill to haul in what is turning out to be a big fish.

Encouraging remarks in both Spanish and English come from surrounding anglers on the pier: “Puedes hacerlo!” “It’s so strong!” “You’ve got it!” Helpful hands from other anglers assist the man in catching his 18-inch long kelp bass after a five-minute tussle. If this had been a halibut, it could take 10 minutes to land a good-sized legal catch, and up to 20 minutes to land a prized thresher shark. But most of the time when pier anglers do catch a shark, they throw the animal back in the ocean, followed by cheers from the gathering crowd.

“Oh, that’s a nice fish!” we say as we congratulate the angler on his catch. “What are you going to do with it?” He doesn’t skip a beat, saying with a smile ear-to-ear, “Gracias! I will feed my family with this fish tonight, and share some with my friends.” The subsistence angling community is commonly generous with good catches, parceling out pieces of a large fish to buddies on the pier, or handing over several bonita or mackerel to others who haven’t been so lucky that day.

Angling on Venice Pier

After the white shark bite incident in Manhattan Beach last summer, Heal the Bay decided to build upon our existing Pier Angler Outreach Program, by creating a pilot program to educate pier anglers of Santa Monica Bay about local shark populations and sustainable fishing techniques. Program partners and funders of the pilot project stepped up, including the City of Manhattan Beach, City of Santa Monica, County of Los Angeles, City of Hermosa Beach, and the City of Redondo Beach.

For several months this past fall, our Shark Ambassadors approached anglers, much like in the scene above, to educate fishermen and collect survey information. Through our outreach, we shared newly developed educational materials focused on responsible fishing techniques, how to avoid catching large sharks and what to do if a shark is caught. Through survey questions, we also collected information on demographics, targeted species, caught species and other recreational activities at all Santa Monica Bay piers.

Besides fishing, our study also looked at many other recreational activities that occur near the piers. According to our research, Manhattan, Hermosa and Venice piers all have a high potential for interaction among anglers, surfers and swimmers. While studying piers from September to December 2014, we found that Venice Pier attracts the most anglers to fish in our Bay, followed by Santa Monica and Redondo Beach Piers. Some 86% of the people we talked to identified themselves as subsistence anglers and 14% as sport anglers. Municipal piers are popular for subsistence anglers who fish to feed themselves and their families. This is because piers are easily accessible and are one of the only places in California where people do not need a fishing license, which makes it more affordable.

We also found that the only piers with sport anglers targeting sharks in our study were on Malibu and Venice Pier. Venice Pier anglers are represented by both subsistence and sport anglers targeting sharks; whereas Malibu Pier’s anglers targeting sharks are entirely sport anglers.

It may be surprising that our outreach team didn’t encounter any sport anglers targeting sharks on the Manhattan Beach Pier, where the issue originated. However, this could be because we did not survey piers at night due to safety, and our data presents the voluntary survey responses as given by the anglers. There may be truly fewer anglers out there targeting white sharks, given the high profile white shark incident. Or perhaps not all anglers disclosed their catches. Regardless, it stands that the incident in Manhattan Beach over the Fourth of July weekend in 2014 is likely a singular incident. And one that we hope we don’t see again in our Bay.

If you want to dive in deeper with the details of this program, please read the results of our Shark Ambassador Program pilot program in this report.

Shark Ambassador ProgramOur Shark Ambassadors talk with an angler at the S.M. Pier.