4,000 lb shark tagged in 1990’s off Santa Cruz county caught in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez

I am terrified of sharks…and if you were a teenager in the 1970’s and saw the movie “Jaws”, you would be too.

I nearly fell out of the theater chair during a nighttime scene in the movie, when that (already dead) man popped out of the boat.  If you have seen the movie “Jaws”, you know exactly which scene it is.

After that, I did not care much about what happened to sharks.  Less sharks lurking in the waters was a good thing, as far as I was concerned.

But that was the naïve teenager, and younger version of me.  Being older now, I know that sharks play an important role in the ocean’s ecosystem, and that these days, there are alarmingly less sharks swimming in our oceans.

In fact, 50 shark species are listed by the Switzerland-based International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as “threatened”.

There are 3 stages within the “threatened” category:

  • Vulnerable
  • Endangered
  • Critically Endangered

Critically Endangered is the highest risk category assigned by the IUCN Red List for wild species, and it means that a species’ numbers have decreased, or will decrease, by 80% within three generations.

So while the teenager version of me would have looked at this photo with a combination of fear, approval, and morbid relief (like…that is one less shark to worry about!), the current, almost 50-year-old version of me is saddened, especially knowing that shark populations are crashing, and that each year, tens of millions of sharks are caught and killed just for their fins.

Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel, contributed by Sean Van Sommeran

This shark was tagged off Ano Nuevo Island (county of Santa Cruz, California) in the 1990’s and caught by accident last week in the Sea of Cortez, Baja area of Mexico.

It was estimated to weigh 4,000 pounds and was 20 feet long.

White sharks are protected in Mexico, so accidental catches are forgiven, according to an article by Stephen Baxter, Santa Cruz Sentinel.  Click here to read the article.

Related Links:

Oceana.orgSharks Overview

Sharks have been swimming the world’s oceans for more than 400 million years. While they have survived mass extinction events, sharks have not evolved to withstand overexploitation by humans.

…Of the 307 shark species assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), 50 are listed as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered, but only the white, whale and basking sharks are protected internationally under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Sharks now represent the greatest percentage of threatened marine species on the IUCN Red List of threatened species.

As apex predators, sharks play a vital role in maintaining the health of marine ecosystems, serving as an indicator of ocean health. Despite their fearsome reputation, sharks are slow-growing, late-maturing, long-lived and give birth to few young, making them extremely vulnerable to over exploitation.   More…

Florida Museum of Natural HistoryBiological Profile, White Shark

 Common Name

The white shark, also known as “great white”, and “white pointer”, is believed to have received its name from the appearance of dead specimens lying on deck, ventral side up with stark white underbelly revealed. Other common English language names are man eater, shark, and white death. Common names in other languages include anequim (Portuguese), devorador de hombres (Spanish), grand requin blanc (French), hohojirozame (Japanese), hvithai (Norwegian), jaquentón blanco (Spanish), kalb bahr (Arabic), kelb il – bahar abjad (Maltese), manzo de mar (Italian), menschenhai (German), niuhi (Hawaiian), peshkagen njeringrenes (Albanian), rechin mancator de oameni (Rumanian), requin blanc (French), sbrillias (Greek), squalo bianco (Italian), tiburón blanco (Spanish), valkohai (Finnish), vithaj (Swedish), weißer hai (German), witdoodshaai (Afrikaans), and zarlacz ludojad (Polish).  

Food Habits

The white shark is a macropredator, known to be active during the daytime. Its most important prey items are marine mammals (including, seals, sea lions, elephant seals, dolphins) and fishes (including other sharks and rays)…More

Pelagic.orgThe Pelagic Shark Research Foundation

The word ‘Pelagic’ is an ancient Greek word for the open ocean, high seas, offshore environment, of which most of the Earth’s surface is comprised. The word is presently used by scientists when describing the Earth’s vast regions of open sea and the creatures that inhabit those regions.

Because sharks have been so efficient as predators and foragers they are a phenomenally successful group of animals that have gotten away with such low reproductive rates; however, the introduction of modern fishing methods and industrial fallout have been devastating to shark populations world-wide.

Shark populations are slow to recover from over-harvesting and several U.S. species are considered threatened or endangered with regional extinction.

Virtually all historic commercial shark fisheries in the U.S. and abroad have ended in the population crash of the species of shark being targeted. Historically, commercial shark fisheries have exhibited a boom/bust cycle of over-harvest and decline where the fishery invariably ends with an abrupt and resounding crash.  More…

UNCLOS and the China – Philippines standoff over Scarborough Shoal

China, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam each claim competing sovereignty over areas in the South China Sea.

You may have heard about the current standoff between China and the Philippines, near the Scarborough Shoal area.  Here is an excerpt from a BBC News article yesterday – China needs a ”consistent policy” on the South China Sea:

China’s claim includes almost the entire South China Sea, well into what the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea recognises as the 200-mile-from-shore Exclusive Economic Zones of other claimants.

That has led to occasional flare-ups and to competition to occupy islands, reefs and sandbars.

The latest incident sparked when a Philippines warship found eight Chinese fishing vessels at the Scarborough shoal – which both sides claim – when it was patrolling the area on 8 April.

When navy personnel boarded the Chinese fishing vessels, they found a large amount of illegally-caught fish and coral, Manila said.

Two Chinese surveillance ships then arrived in the area, preventing the navy from making arrests.

Attempts to resolve the stand-off have not yet been successful. The Philippine warship has been replaced by a coast guard vessel and the Chinese fishermen have gone, but two Chinese vessels remain there.

China has also expressed anger at the annual US-Philippines military exercises, due to run until 27 April.

This year they are taking place off Palawan, near the disputed Spratly islands which both Manila and Beijing claim. The joint exercises involve some 7,000 troops, including more than 4,000 from the US.

With China asserting its claims more aggressively the US has been strengthening old friendships in the region, says the BBC’s John Sudworth reporting from the South China Sea on the exercises.  Read more…

I’ve heard something about this  “200 nautical miles” rule before, but did not know the history.  Apparently, it is based on the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), an international agreement also known as the Law of the Sea Treaty.

Looking at the map above, it seems rather clear — especially regarding the Scarborough Shoals — that this area belongs in the Philippine “exclusive economic zone” under UNCLOS definitions.  China is claiming a very large area as “territorial waters”.

The current UNCLOS III treaty came into force in 1994,  replacing earlier treaties UNCLOS I and UNCLOS II (though the concept of national rights of a nation’s coastlines dates back to the 17th century).

UNCLOS III covers exclusive economic zones (see below graphic), navigation, archipelagic status and transit regimes, continental shelf jurisdiction, deep seabed mining, protection of the marine environment, scientific research, and settlement of disputes.

United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)

Related Links:

United Nations – Oceans and Law of the Sea: Historical Perspective on UNCLOS

East Sea (South China Sea) Studies – All for one, one for all: promoting economic activities in the South China Sea, by Nazery Khalid.

Palawan-based blogger Alex Pronove’s latest post: Sun-Tzu – The Art of War, and President Aquino (and the standoff at Scarborough Shoal)

Country of origin for tilapia fish sold locally

This is a follow-up to the post Tilapia – top aquaculture fish.

I was curious about the country of origin of tilapia fish sold locally (Monterey County, California).  Here is a sample:

Sign – seafood counter at Phil’s Fish Market, Moss Landing, CA

Phil’s Fish Market in Moss Landing had whole tilapia fish available (but no fillets) at the time of my visit.  However, their pricing sign did not indicate country of origin.  When I asked for assistance — near the bar and entrance — they did find out quickly, and told me their whole tilapias were farm-raised, from Canada.

There is room on the sign to write the country of origin, so it seems easy enough for Phil’s to let customers know where their tilapia is sourced.

Whole tilapia and other fish for sale at Phil’s Fish Market, Moss Landing

If you visit Phil’s website, the home page states “In our continuing commitment to protect the environment & provide the highest quality seafood available, we now partner with Safe Harbor, a comprehensive seafood safety certification program.”  

Safe Harbor Certified Seafood are tested for mercury, radiation, industrial pollutants, use of hormones, and unregulated aquaculture   For more on Safe Harbor, click here.

As far as I can tell, Safe Harbor is strictly a testing program for fish safety — to eat, which is great!.  But individual restaurants or fish markets still need to be mindful of fish sustainability practices (e.g., Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program) along with being a Safe Harbor partner.

Fresh tilapia fillets – Whole Foods

The fresh tilapia fillets at Whole Foods (top photo) are from Ecuador and label indicates “fresh farmed, responsibly raised, hormone & antibiotic free”.

Whole Foods fish counters had these Marine Stewardship Certification signs, indicating “third-party certified sustainable fishing”.

Whole Foods Market Marine Stewardship

They had frozen tilapia fillets available (bottom photo), also from Ecuador, and marked “no antibiotics, no preservatives, no added hormones”.

Frozen tilapia fillets – Whole Foods

At the Asian Market in Marina, tilapia was available in the freezer section only, and marked “Product of Taiwan, R.O.C.”.

Frozen tilapia fillets at the Asian Market – Marina

Frozen tilapia fillets country of origin info – Asian market

The chain grocery store, Save Mart, sold farm raised, previously frozen tilapia fillets, marked “Product of China”, as well as frozen whole tilapia, also marked “Product of China”.

Save Mart – previously frozen tilapia fillets

Whole tilapia fish – Save Mart

I did not find any tilapia from U.S. based fish farms —- not surprising, as the Seafood Watch Report from Monterey Bay Aquarium indicated less than 10% of tilapia consumed in the U.S. are from U.S.-based, tilapia fish farms.

As you can see from the photos, there is a big difference in tilapia price between the stores.  Only Whole Foods had tilapia sourced from areas marked as “Good Alternatives” on the Seafood Watch program — i.e., Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras.

Please visit the original post “Tilapia – Top Aquaculture Fish” for more information on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program.

And let me know if you see tilapia from U.S. fish farms (rated “Best Choice” from Seafood Watch) for sale at our local markets, or restaurants.

Update: I did find U.S. farmed tilapia fish, view the post here – Found! USA Farmed Tilapia.

Two items NOT to bring in your luggage, when traveling from the Philippines to the U.S.

Yesterday, Carol, from the Philippines posted a comment / question about bringing a walis tambo — a traditional Philippine broom — with her, when she visits her relatives in New Jersey next month (see my response about walis in comment section of blog post, here)

In the process of getting her question answered, the customs official I spoke with also mentioned two items often packed in the luggage of those traveling from the Philippines, that are currently banned from entry to the U.S.

And these item are:

  1. Tsitsaron (or chicharron) — My response was…What?  Really? You are just kidding right?  Nope, he was not kidding, so leave your favorite bags of tsitsaron for your friends and relatives in the Philippines, and not as a part of your pasalubong items.
  2. Any chicken bouillon type seasoning (a popular brand is “Magic Sarap”) — again, my thought was….hmmm,  that is strange one, but it may have something to do with minimizing bird flu risks.

So…you will have to buy your tsitsaron from U.S. manufacturers, and leave your Magic Sarap packages behind.

I have seen this brand for sale at our local Filipino stores, so the formula may be different for export (?).

And just a reminder that if you want more information on specific items you want to bring back from the Philippines, you should contact directly, your port of entry airport (such as, Los Angeles, etc.)

For the San Francisco International Airport – Port of Entry officials on this topic can be reached at telephone # (650) 624-7200, extension 415.

To find your own local authority, you can Google “Port of Entry” along with the name of your airport of entry.

It is always a good idea to contact your Port of Entry authorities first, to check if you have questions on items you are bringing in from the Philippines, in case of rule changes!

Dried fish (tuyo) for sale at a Philippine market. Photo Lolako.com

And by the way, as of now, it is still OK to bring as much dried fish and fermented seafood products from the Philippines — like tuyo, bagoong and ginamos — that you can fit in your luggage. NOTE: This applies to SEAFOOD only, not beef or poultry. And of course, not ever any FRESH seafood!

The most important thing is that you DECLARE your items, in case the agriculture department wants to see the items and scan through their X-ray machines.

For more on bringing tuyo, bagoong and ginamos when travelling to the U.S., see the comments section on my  “Luggage with a special kind of stinky” post.

And if you like this post and want to see other Philippine related post from LolaKo.com, click here…

Among Lolako.com’s most popular Philippine related post are about

~ Lola Jane

Update on October 2, 2014 — in case your Magic Sarap packages were confiscated by US Customs…and if you absolutely must have the Magic Sarap brand seasoning mix, no worries as it is available at many Asian Market / Filipino stores in the US.

Magic Sarap for sale at store web

Magic Sarap seasoning mix for sale at Virginia, USA based Filipino store

I spotted these packages while at a Filipino store & restaurant in Fairfax, Virginia a few weeks ago…

Tilapia – the world’s top aquaculture fish

Writing about the Philippine bangus / milkfish these last few days got me thinking about the most popular farmed (aquaculture) fish in the world, the tilapia (Oreochromis, Sarotherodon).

Introduction, from Tilapia Production Report, Globefish.org:

Tilapia is both a genus of fishes in the Cichlidae family and the common name for nearly a hundred species of freshwater and some brackish water cichlid fishes belonging to the three genera Tilapia, Sarotherodon, and Oreochromis. 

Nile Tilapia Drawing (1898): WH Flower, Guide to the galleries of reptiles and fishes of the British Museum

Tilapia is often called “St. Peter’s fish” because according to the Book of Mathew (17:27) the fish which St. Peter caught was a tilapia. Also, the miracle of Jesus Christ in which it says a crowd of five thousand people were fully fed with five loafs of bread and two fishes (Mathew 14:15-21) may have also been a tilapia since this is the species most found in Lake Tiberius (Sea of Galilee) in historical Palestine. It is also called as Nile mouth brooder, or Nile perch.

Most important and abundant in production, capture and aquaculture, is the Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus); followed by the Blue tilapia (Oreochromis aureus); Mango tilapia (Sarotherodon galilaeus) and Sabaki tilapia (Oreochromis spilurus). These are native to Africa and the Middle East.  Blue and Mango tilapias are captured although in limited quantities while Sabaki tilapia is only cultured.

In the twenty-first century tilapia is dubbed as “wonder fish”.

Photo Source: www.globefish.org

Although tilapia is native to Africa and the Middle East, 98% of all farmed tilapia is grown outside its native habitat, by about 85 countries.

Tilapia was the 4th favorite seafood in the U.S. in 2010, moving up from its previous position as 5th favorite.  And because it is an affordable fish, worldwide demand continues to grow (www.Globefish.org).

According to a Seafood Watch report by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, tilapia are the most widely grown of any farmed fish. They are highly adaptable, easily cultured and

  • provides more protein than it takes to raise it (unlike farmed salmon or tuna)
  • are omnivorous and adapts eating habits to available food (they feed on phytoplankton or benthic algae but readily accept compound feed)
  • can tolerate low oxygen levels and a range of salinities
  • occupy a wide range of habitats (ponds, rivers, lakes, canals, irrigation channels)
  • have high reproductive capacities and readily establish self-reproducing populations

Photo Source: www.globefish.org

For many years, it has been available at Filipino supermarkets here in the U.S. and is a popular fish choice for markets that have a “free” fish frying service.

More and more, I see it offered as a fish option at restaurants, and it is usually always available as a fish choice in Filipino eateries.

From a sustainability standpoint, here is the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program’s stance on tilapia:

Your “Best Choice” is tilapia grown in the U.S. in environmentally friendly systems. “Avoid” farmed tilapia from China and Taiwan, where pollution and weak management are widespread problems.

Seafood
Rating Market Names Where Caught/How Caught
Tilapia Best Choice Izumidai U.S. – Farmed
Tilapia Avoid Izumidai China, Taiwan – Farmed
Tilapia Good Alternative Izumidai Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras – Farmed

More tilapia consumer notes  from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch:

Most tilapia consumed in the U.S. comes from China/Taiwan (frozen) or Central and South America (fresh). Less than 10 percent of tilapia consumed in the U.S. is farmed domestically.

A mild, white fish, tilapia is available year-round. It’s available whole, fresh, frozen, or even live in some Asian restaurants. It can also be found as fresh or frozen fillets. Tilapia is known as izumidai when prepared for sushi.

Summary

Tilapia is an important source of protein, especially in developing countries. Tilapia is a good candidate for farming, as it provides more protein than it takes to raise it. This is in contrast to some other fish raised in farms, such as salmon or tuna.

Tilapia is a hardy, freshwater fish that tolerates a wide range of water conditions. This means it’s easy to farm, but it also means it easily invades many habitats and threatens native fish populations.

In the U.S., most tilapia is farmed in closed inland systems that guard against escapes and pollution. However, in many other countries, tilapia is often farmed in open systems where escapes and pollution are bigger threats. However, tilapia farming methods vary widely within any given country.

U.S. farmed tilapia is the “Best Choice,” with tilapia from Central and South America as a “Good Alternative” to other imported product.

Photo Source: www.globefish.org

The bottom line for U.S. consumers of tilapia:  Look at country of origin packaging labels, and ask your fish dealer, or your restaurant, the country source of the tilapia that they sell and/or serve.

This way, you can at least know if you are consuming “Best Choice” — that is, U.S. farm raised tilapia — or “Good Alternative”, sustainably grown tilapias (again, from Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Honduras).

Although tilapia is one of the better farmed fish to eat — because of its mild flavor, affordability, and from a sustainable fish standpoint — it is still a fairly new fish in the world of modern aquaculture.

Under the right conditions, they can become an invasive species when deliberately or accidentally introduced in tropical climates.

In Florida, the blue tilapia (oreochromis aureus) is the most widespread of foreign fish species and a problem when tilapia populations compete with native fish.

Blue Tilapia – Photo credit: Michael Rupert Hayes

Tilapia is now the second most popular farmed fish in the Philippines (after the bangus).

A report from www.Globefish.org indicated that Nile Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) was introduced to the Philippines in the mid-1960’s.  Excerpt from Globefish report on the Nile tilapia:

The culture of Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) can be traced back to ancient Egyptian times as depicted on bas-relief from an Egyptian tomb dating over 4000 years ago, which showed the fish held in ornamental ponds.

While significant worldwide distribution of tilapias, primarily Oreochromis mossambicus, occurred during the 1940s and 1950s, distribution of the more desirable Nile tilapia occurred during the 1960s up to the 1980s.

Nile tilapia from Japan was introduced to Thailand in 1965, and from Thailand they were sent to the Philippines. Nile tilapia from Cote d’Ivoire was introduced to Brazil in 1971,and from Brazil they were sent to the United States in 1974. In 1978, Nile tilapia was introduced to China, which leads the world in tilapia production and consistently
produced more than half of the global production in every year from 1992 to 2008.

I recommend reading the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch and Globefish.org reports below, if you need more information to decide if tilapia is a fish you want to include in your diet.

Related Links:

Lolako.com’s country of origin for tilapia fish sold locally and Found! U.S. Farmed Tilapia

Tilapia-US-Farmed-Lions-MarketLolako.com’s Found! U.S.A. Farmed Tilapia

Seafood Watch – Seafood Report on Farmed Tilapia, by the Monterey Bay Aquarium

How to Raise Tilapia in the Backyard (http://www.pinoybisnes.com)

www.Globefish.org – Tilapia Production Report and Tilapia Archives

Rare Golden Bangus

Bangus (or milkfish – see previous post about Jollibees and “Burgers…and Bangus”) is silver-colored, like many fish.  Somehow though, this one came out a golden color.

RARE GOLDEN BANGUS–-Dr. Westly Rosario, chief of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) research center based in Dagupan City, holds a live rare golden bangus (milkfish) donated to the center by a fish farmer from Binmaley for research and propagation. The 16-month old fish is measured at 50 centimeters long and weighs 1.2 kilogram. (Photo by Cesar Ramirez) Source: http://sundaypunch.prepys.com/archives/2012/04/16/rare-golden-bangus/

Read more from Yolanda Sotelo, from the blog Northern Watch.  Excerpt:

The “golden bangus” aged one year and four months, could be a freak of nature, much like albinism, BFAR center chief Westly Rosario said. The rare bangus has golden scales, head, fins and tails, which are usually silver in “normal” bangus.
(Albinism, according to Wikipedia, is a congenital disorder characterized by the complete or partial absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes due to absence or defect of an enzyme involved in the production of melanin. Albinism results from inheritance of recessive gene alleles and is known to affect all vertebrates, including humans.)

…Rosario said he has seen a golden bangus seven years ago in Taiwan, but this is the first time that such kind was reported in the Philippines  More…

Interested in why the Philippine bangus is considered an unofficial national symbol?  See the previous post “Burgers and Bangus”, and then check out the post Haring Ibon: the magnificent and critically endangered Philippine eagle to learn about official, national symbols of the Philippines).

Jollibee burgers…and bangus? And why bangus is considered an (unofficial) Philippine national symbol

Where else, but the Philippine fast food restaurant Jollibee, can one order hamburgers AND fried bangus (pronounced something close to “bung-oose”), served with rice?

Jollibee Food Corporation (JFC) started in Manila, soon after McDonalds made plans to enter the Philippine market.

They are one of Asia’s most successful and fastest growing companies, and the Philippines’ largest chain restaurant.  They continue to expand beyond the Philippines, with most U.S. locations in California.

Not yet familiar with bangus (also known as milkfish)?  It is a commonly eaten fish in the Philippines, and an unofficial national symbol.  And because of its popularity in aquaculture or fish farms, it is available just about everywhere in the Philippines, and easy to find here in the U.S.

Here is a description and biology from Wikipedia:

Milkfish (Chanos chanos) have a generally symmetrical and streamlined appearance, with a sizable forked caudal fin. They can grow to 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in) but are most often about 1 metre (39 in) in length. They have no teeth and generally feed on algae and invertebrates.

They occur in the Indian Ocean and across the Pacific Ocean, tending to school around coasts and islands with reefs. The young fry live at sea for two to three weeks and then migrate to mangrove swamps, estuaries, and sometimes lakes and return to sea to mature sexually and reproduce.

Bangus (Milkfish) – Chanos chanos by Sir Francis Day

And on the history of the bangus / milkfish:

Milkfish aquaculture first occurred around 800 years ago in the Philippines and spread in Indonesia, Taiwan and into the Pacific.

Traditional milkfish aquaculture relied upon restocking ponds by collecting wild fry. This led to a wide range of variability in quality and quantity between seasons and regions. In the late seventies, farmers first successfully spawned breeding fish. However, they were hard to obtain and produced unreliable egg viability.  In 1980 the first spontaneously spawning happened in sea cages. These eggs were found to be sufficient to generate a constant supply for farms.

Bangus is available fresh or frozen at most Asian markets, and at chain supermarkets that serve the Filipino-American (Fil-Am) community (e.g., Seafood City, Island Supermarket).

Bangus milkfish for sale at Seafood City Markets – photo by Lolako.com

It is cooked in soups (sinigang), stewed in vinegar, ginger and spices (paksiw), fried, grilled or barbequed, stuffed (relleno style), and also “dinaing”, marinated in vinegar and spices, and fried, as in the style served at Jollibee.

Targeting the American market with their chicken and burgers, and offering a menu with familiar, native style foods like fried bangus is a solid marketing strategy, since U.S. Jollibee locations are in areas with established Fil-Am communities.

Bangus is a bony fish, so perhaps marinating or “dinaning” style of preparation is among the best method, as the acid in the vinegar makes the bangus bones soft, then crispy when fried.

Bangus is also available at Jollibee for breakfast, served with traditional Filipino garlic fried rice (sinangag) — and an egg of course.  For the breakfast menu, they do call it milkfish, and highlight the belly  or middle part — a favorite for many, including me!

Bangus is a tasty fish, and it must now be abundant enough — and hopefully grown in a sustainable way — to meet the supply demands of a large restaurant chain like Jollibees.

I checked the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch list, and did not see anything on chanos chanos, milkfish or bangus.  They did have a Fish Farming Methods Fact Card that indicate recirculating type systems (enclosed fish tanks) as the best method, though costly to run due to reliance on electricity or other power sources.  If you happen upon this blog and know about the bangus industry, I would appreciate getting a comment on modern bangus aquaculture methods.

I often wondered why bangus often shows up or is thought of as a Philippine national symbol.  So…now I know it is because Filipinos from 800 years ago were the first to capture bangus in the wild, and grow bangus in fish farms!

Lastly for this post…I found out there is a bangus festival in Dagupan City during April until early May.  Dagupan City is in the province of Pangasinan.  A festival centered around the tasty bangus… sounds like fun!

Related Links:

San Miguel – beer and more!

The choices for beer brands, specially from smaller, independent craft breweries in California is dizzying.  According to the California Craft Brewers Association, as of 2012, there were 312 independently owned, craft breweries in our state alone!

Nationally, I’ve heard that there are now over 2,000 breweries in the U.S., producing 13,000 different labels of beer.

Source: www.sanmiguelbrewery.com

Beer brand choice was quite simple when I was growing up in the Philippines.

Beer was just beer, no need to say a brand name, simply because there was typically just one beer available for sale in the Philippines.  And that brand was San Miguel Beer.

San Miguel Beer was founded in 1890 as La Fabrica de Cerveza de San Miguel, a single-product brewery in the Philippines.

It is an iconic Philippine brand, and continues as the #1 beer brand in the Philippines, capturing over 95% of the beer market, and is the #1 brewery in Southeast Asia.

San Miguel has grown, and the brewery — the foundation of its business — is now a subsidiary of the vast San Miguel Corporation (SMC).  SMC is the largest food, beverage and packaging company in the Philippines, with over 100 facilities in the Philippines, China and Southeast Asia.

These days, the San Miguel Corporation’s products range from beer, hard liquor, juices, processed meats, poultry, dairy products, condiments, flour, coffee, animal feeds as well as packaging products.  Their “new business” seems far removed from their core beverage and food products, and are in the areas of:

  • Fuel & Oil
  • infrastructure
  • Power and Energy
  • Mining
  • Telecom
  • Banking

San Miguel was in my radar recently, when I read that the San Miguel Pure Foods Company’s (SMPFC) revenues hit an all time high in 2011.  Excerpt from San Miguel Corporation below:

San Miguel Pure Foods Company Inc. (SMPFC) registered all-time high revenues of P89.6 billion for 2011, up 13% from P79.3 billion in 2010 and driven by increased demand, aggressive distribution expansion, introduction of new products, and higher export sales.

Despite a significant increase in input costs, particularly in its agro-industrial cluster, income from operations increased 4% to P6.1 billion, with significant contributions from its value-added meats, dairy, flour, and coffee businesses.

Profits were boosted mainly by higher volumes, improved efficiencies, a good wheat position, a strong peso, and effective cost reduction across the entire group.

Net income rose to P4.2 billion, up 4% from P4.1 billion in 2010.

Nearly all of SMPFC’s businesses posted significant revenue growth due to higher volumes and favorable selling prices.

Its Value-added business chalked 5% growth in revenue, while its Feeds business posted an 8% revenue growth in commercial feeds.

Revenue growths were also seen across Magnolia Dairy, Magnolia Ice Cream and San Miguel Coffee, which benefited from wider distribution, brand-building initiatives and better selling prices.

For more on this topic, click on the article “SMC more than doubles revenues” from the Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation.

Pure Foods was acquired by San Miguel Corporation in May, 2001.

The San Miguel Corporation is huge, and hugely successful…and definitely not the San Miguel known by our parents, or THIS lola (grandmother).

Living in the United States, do you still drink San Miguel — or are there just way too many other beer choices here?

Related Lolako.com posts:

Where to see springtime wildflowers

If you are looking to view wildflowers this spring, the U.S. Forest Service has a great website, with a listing of wildflowers by region.

The wildflower below is from the Pacific Southwest viewing area, and specifically, the Slate Mountain Botanical Area, in California’s Sequoia National Forest.

Pinewoods fritillary (Fritillaria pinetorum). Photo by Fletcher Linton, U.S. Forest Service Website

Click on the map below to link to the Forest Service website.  You can then click your specific region to find details on where to view wildflowers in your area.  Each area has a detailed description of what you can expect to see, as well as safety information and directions.

Go out and view wildflowers while they are here — and celebrate spring!

An idyllic setting in an alpine meadow of the Albion basin in the Wasatch Mountains. Photo by Teresa Prendusi - US Forest Service website

Tinted Trees: California Black Oak

Spring time also means native California black oak trees (quercus kelloggii) are sprouting new leaves.  The spring leaves of California black oaks are a beautiful light green, sometimes with pinkish hues, contrasting beautifully with its black trunk and branches.

California black oaks are highly drought tolerant, and vital to wildlife for habitat and for food.  It has the largest acorns of western oaks, which are consumed by deer, quails, wild turkeys, scrub and blue jays, woodpeckers, squirrels and rodents, feral pig and livestock.

California Black Oak, spring 2012

This above photo is the “normal” shot, and the following photos have been altered using the simple Windows Photo Gallery fix tool, adjusting the tint.  It is called a black oak for a reason, and no matter the color changes, the dark trunk and branches remain the most prominent feature.

For more details on the California black oak, visit the US Forest Service website article on quercus kelloggii, link here.

Signs of Spring

I took these photographs over the weekend — sure signs for me, that spring, in our little part of the world…is finally here.

Mustard flowers blooming in between fruit trees

Mustard flowers are in full bloom, cropping up and getting taller, along the sides of many of our roads, and in between still dormant fruit trees at local orchards.

Blooming California Poppies - Springtime

Yellow-orange California poppies are emerging…

Some fields are abundant with wildflowers, and finally…the landscape and rolling hills are momentarily…GREEN!

It was summer time when we immigrated to the U.S. in 1979, landing in Northern California. I remember first really noticing the landscape when my mother, younger sister, and I were riding on a Greyhound bus, going through the Sacramento area (easy to understand since there is not much else to do during a long bus ride).

Looking out the bus windows, the colors I saw were predominantly tan, golden and brown.  I did not know what to make of it really — it certainly was different, and I was not sure I liked all the dry landscape.  Where’s the green?

So after years (and years and years) of living in this part of California, I have come to love and appreciate the changing seasons, and even the golden brown landscape.

I always look forward to spring…a magical time for me, when the landscape is suddenly lush and green.

Although these photographs are from areas in San Benito and Monterey County, many areas of California have scenery similar to this.

I know this time is ephemeral, and soon, these hills and fields will dry up and the grasses will begin to turn to golden and brown colors, once again.

But for now, I will enjoy it, and take in the lush, green colors….candy for my eyes and it seems, a sort of nutrient for my soul.

What does spring mean or signal to you?