By Laine Welch
Alaska fish can now claim another “best” on the health front. It is the easiest protein on your tummy. That is the conclusion of the first comparative study ever done on digestibility of America’s most popular proteins.
“Most people have assumed that fish is a superior source of protein, but no studies have been done to prove it,” said Dr. Scott Smiley at the University of Alaska’s Fishery Industrial Technology Center in Kodiak. “We wanted to fill that gap by studying the compositional and digestibility differences between the big protein sources: beef, pork, chicken and fish.”
Alaska pollock was by far the most digestible protein, followed by Alaska salmon.
“The fish came way out on top,” Smiley said. “Interestingly, chicken was the least digestible.”
They all are high-quality proteins, he added, but the main distinction with cold water fish from Alaska is that it also provides omega 3 fatty acids.
“Those are incredibly healthful for humans,” Smiley said. “And omegas are tremendously potent in terms of undoing the damage that saturated fatty acids associated with red meats have done over the years because of our diet.”
Smiley said the Alaska scientists were “thrilled” at the study results.
“We suspected this would be the case, but it is always good to see it validated through testing,” he explained. “And we tested it ‘seven ways to Sunday’ here in both laboratory and field tests. This is the kind of science that can float all boats and hopefully will make more people look to fish as their protein source.”
FITC scientists collaborated on the study with researchers at the University of Illinois/Urbana. Results are published in the Journal of Animal Science.
Temperature and fish takes
Results from three seasons of fishing tests indicate that temperature data might be used to reduce Chinook salmon by-catch in Bering Sea pollock fisheries.
A new study by John Gauvin of the Marine Conservation Alliance Foundation and Jim Ianelli of the Alaska Fisheries Science Center found that pollock primarily stayed within the two to four degrees Celsius range. Within that, king salmon by-catch was generally higher. (Chum salmon by-catch appeared to have a similar but weaker relationship with temperature.)
The researchers believe temperature and depth data collections may be used by the fleet to avoid high by-catch zones.
“If collections of fine-scale temperature data on Alaska fishing vessels can be continued in the future to obtain a longer time series, as well as extending this effort to the other fishing grounds, the potential clearly exists for a new and effective tool for reducing salmon and other by-catch in Alaska’s groundfish fisheries,” the study said. Alaska pollock is the largest U.S. fishery, accounting for more than one-third of total U.S. landings. Find the full report at www.mcafoundation.org.
Biggest fish buzz
The issue worrying most industry stakeholders in Alaska is marine spatial planning, or “ocean zoning,” and that calls might be made outside the realm of regional fishery councils. That was the talk in the halls at the North Pacific Council meeting underway at the Anchorage Hilton.
The Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, created last June by the White House, calls it a “more comprehensive approach to protecting and restoring the health of U.S. oceans and coasts.”
The new spatial approach uses chart lines on huge swaths of ocean to define strict zones for all users: shipping lanes, oil and gas development, fiber optic cables, fishing areas and other marine activities.
“It is already used in several other countries,” said Arne Fuglvog, fisheries aide to Senator Lisa Murkowski. “In the United States, it has been done on a state-by-state initiative.”
“This is something that all of Alaska’s fisheries can get behind,” said fisheries consultant Linda Kozak of Kodiak. “There might be disagreement on other issues, but zoning our oceans affects us all.”
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