Science Policy For All

Because science policy affects everyone.

Science Policy Around the Web – December 26, 2014

with one comment

By: Sara Cassidy, M.S., Ph.D.

Federal Science Policy

New recommendations to tackle seafood fraud

Do you know what’s on your plate? The Presidential Task Force on Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Seafood Fraud, co-chaired by the Departments of State and Commerce, has released its recommendations to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud. The term “seafood fraud” includes all manner of seafood misrepresentation, including mislabeling or substituting one fish for another. There are many steps in the supply chain in which this can occur, including at the restaurant, the distributor, or the processing and packaging facility. It can occur deliberately, when high-quality fish is exchanged for a less desirable, cheaper, or more readily available species. Fraud hurts legitimate fisherman and fisheries, as sustainable fishing tend to be more expensive and labor intensive. It also hurts the consumer. “Seafood is one the most traded commodities in the world. Consumers should be able to have confidence their seafood was legally and sustainably harvested,” said Catherine Novelli, Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment. And finally, IUU fishing and seafood fraud negatively impacts the environment when illegal over-fishing strips the ocean of necessary resources. The recommendations are open to public comment on the Federal Register until Jan 20th 2015.  (Media Note,;; Andrew Sharpless and Ted Danson, HuffingtonPost)


Conservation Policy

A tough sell to protect endangered corals and fish in Florida

Biscayne National Park is in southern Florida, between Miami and Homestead. The park preserves Biscayne Bay and its offshore barrier reefs. However, conservation of this public habitat, one of largest reef tracts in the US, is being hampered by arguments over how best to execute it. On one hand, federal officials want to ban fishing in 10,522 acres of the park to replenish the dwindling populations of snapper and grouper and rehabilitate the deteriorating seabed. On the other hand, state officials and the marine industry favor incremental fixes and toughening of existing rules. Saltwater recreational fishing accounts for $7.6 billion for Florida’s yearly economy.

A common thread throughout the debate is the idea of fairness and consistency in the execution of federal preservation policies. Strict rules designed to protect resources and animals on national lands – such as no hunting in Yosemite – are proving more difficult in the country’s largest marine park. “Biscayne is a national park,” said Brian Carlstrom, the park’s new superintendent. “If this were national park land” — as opposed to national park water — “there would be no question of what resources can be extracted from here.”  (Lizette Alvarez, NY Times)


Federal Science Policy

New report questions the strength of the FBI’s case in 2001 anthrax attacks

Beginning on Set 18th 2001, letters containing anthrax spores were mailed to several media outlets and two U.S. senators, killing five people and infecting 17 others. The resulting FBI investigation, called Amerithrax, one was largest and complex in U.S. history. In 2008, the FBI concluded that Bruce Ivins, a microbiologist working for the U.S. Army, was responsible for the anthrax attacks. Ivins committed suicide before the FBI findings were released. Last week, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released their analysis of the FBI investigation and concluded that the investigation could not rule out the possibility that someone other than Ivins committed the crime, similar to a previous report by the National Academy of Sciences in 2011. The GAO report cites that contractors hired by the FBI used poor sampling techniques and statistical methods when evaluating the anthrax spores. Additionally, the GAO report chastises the FBI for failing to understand genetic variation in bacteria over time; the genetic similarity of four of the attack samples to samples found in Ivins lab was key to the FBI’s case. The GAO recommended that the FBI develop a framework for validation and statistical approaches for future investigations and the FBI agreed to these recommendations.  (, David Malakoff, ScienceInsider)



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Written by sciencepolicyforall

December 26, 2014 at 11:01 am

One Response

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  1. As an update to the seafood fraud story Oceana, a non-profit organization, recently released the findings from DNA testing thousands of fish in grocery stores, restaurants, and sushi venues. More than 50% of fish labeled as tuna and snapper in the US are not tuna or snapper. The most common tuna knock-off is escolar, a fish that can cause prolonged, uncontrollable, oily anal leakage.


    February 20, 2015 at 8:42 am

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