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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

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Bye-bye, Fish

Bye-bye, Fish

Night Fishing

Chinese fishing fleet, China (credit: Blue Ocean)

Traditional fisherman use trained cormorants to do their fishing while others use hooks and lines. Who knew illegal fisherman used high-powered lamps, so bright they could be seen at night from space? An astronaut on the International Space Station (ISS) photographed fishing trawlers as they passed over the Tsushima Straits between Japan and Korea.

Commenting on the image NASA said:
The fisherman are likely luring the Japanese flying squid (Todarodes pacificus) to the surface with bright xenon bulbs. The city lights on the Korean side of the strait have an orange glow, while those on the Japanese coast are greener. The difference is related to the distribution of lamps using mercury vapor, metal halide, and high-pressure sodium—the bulb types most often utilized for street and outdoor lightning. Mercury vapor lights tend to be green, high-pressure sodium is orange, and metal halide lamps are bright white.

Overfishing in the north and western Pacific has caused sharp decreases in fish populations. In some ocean areas fish stocks have declined by 80%, due to illegal vessels that can virtually deplete a fishery. The boats photographed by the space station may be some of these illegal, un-registered crafts, trawling in Korean waters.

            Night-time fishing boats with lamps, Tsushima Straits, Asia  (credit: ISS/NASA)

NASA didn't say if the night-fishing the ISS photographed was successful but considering the density of boats, legal or otherwise, the flying squid are likely on their way to joining an already long list of heavily over-fished and endangered fish species. WHB

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