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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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What's Happening to Fisheries?
20 May 2010 3:45 pm
On 18 May, NOAA shut down fisheries in a 118,000-square-kilometer area in the gulf. The move has threatened the lucrative shellfish industry. But the government says it is crucial to protect people from dangers of eating shellfish contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, elements of oil that are carcinogenic.
Scientists are scouring the area for tainted catch—so far, with the oil still offshore, none has been found—a tricky task in itself. Current analytical methods take days. So scientists at AOAC International, a nonprofit analytical chemistry group in Gaithersburg, Maryland, are working with testing companies to try to develop faster methods for preparing and analyzing samples with mass spectroscopy.
A far more difficult task will be determining when it is safe to reopen the fisheries. After previous spills, NOAA has reopened fisheries when normal background levels of oil were detected in fish or shellfish samples. But given the size of the fishery affected and its critical importance to local livelihoods, such a strict standard may be unrealistic. Former Food and Drug Administration regulator David Acheson says the agency may have to develop new standards to certify fish that contains tiny amounts of oil above trace levels. But that could take "a very long time," he says. "We don't really know what's safe."