Tag Archives: fish

Shielded Native American sites thrust into debate over dams

A little-known federal program that avoids publicizing its accomplishments to protect from looters the thousands of Native American sites it’s tasked with managing has been caught up in a big net.

The Federal Columbia River System Cultural Resources Program tracks some 4,000 historical sites that also include homesteads and missions in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana.

Now it’s contributing information as authorities prepare a court-ordered environmental impact statement concerning struggling salmon and the operation of 14 federal dams in the Columbia River Basin.

A federal judge urged officials to consider breaching four of those dams on the Snake River.

“Because of the scale of the EIS, there’s no practical way for us, even if we wanted to, to provide a map of each and every site that we consider,” said Sean Hess, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Pacific Northwest Region archaeologist. “There are some important sites out there that we don’t talk about a lot because of concerns about what would happen because of vandalism.”

Fish survival, hydropower, irrigation and navigation get the most attention and will be components in the environmental review due out in 2021. But at more than a dozen public meetings in the four states to collect feedback, the cultural resources program has equal billing. Comments are being accepted through Jan. 17.

The review process is being conducted under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, an umbrella law that covers the well-known Endangered Species Act. Thirteen species of salmon and steelhead on the Columbia and Snake rivers have been listed as federally protected species over the past 25 years.

But NEPA also requires equal weight be given to other laws, including the National Historic Preservation Act, which is where the cultural resources program comes in. Among the 4,000 sites are fishing and hunting processing areas, ancestral village areas and tribal corridors.

“People were very mobile, prehistorically,” said Kristen Martine, Cultural Recourse Program manager for the Bonneville Power Administration.

Some of the most notable sites with human activity date back thousands of years and are underwater behind dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers. Celilo Falls, a dipnet fishery for thousands of years, is behind The Dalles Dam on the Columbia River. Marmes Rockshelter was occupied 10,000 years ago but now is underwater behind Lower Monumental Dam on the Snake River.

“If we’re breaching dams, it would definitely change how we manage resources,” said Gail Celmer, an archaeologist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon ordered the environmental review in May after finding that a massive habitat restoration effort to offset the damage that dams in the Columbia River Basin pose to Northwest salmon runs was failing.

Salmon and steelhead runs are a fraction of what they were before modern settlement. Of the salmon and steelhead that now return to spawn each year, experts say, about 70 to 90 percent originate in hatcheries.

Those opposed to breaching the Snake River dams to restore salmon runs say the dams are an important part of the regional economy, providing irrigation, hydropower and shipping benefits.

Meanwhile, several tribes said they are better able to take part in the review process than they once were.

“Tribes have not had much opportunity to participate in these things because they didn’t have professional staff or trained people,” said Guy Moura of the Colville Confederated Tribes in Washington state, noting the tribe employed four people in its cultural resources program in 1992 but now has 38. “With growth in size, there also came the evolution of what was being done.”

The tribe at one time had a large fishery at Kettle Falls, on the upper part of the Columbia River, but it was inundated in the 1940s behind Grand Coulee Dam. Dams farther downstream on the Columbia prevent salmon from reaching the area.

Also among the 4,000 historical sites is Bonneville Dam, one of 14 dams involved in the environmental impact statement. Bonneville Dam is the lowest dam in the system at about 145 miles from the mouth of the Columbia River. It started operating in the 1930s and became a National Historic Landmark in 1987.

Obama administration announces rule to deal with illegal fishing, seafood fraud

The Obama administration on Dec. 8 issued a final rule to implement the Seafood Import Monitoring Program to address illegal fishing and seafood fraud in the United States.

This rule will require imported seafood at risk of illegal fishing and seafood fraud to be traced from the fishing boat or farm to the U.S. border, helping to stop illegally caught and mislabeled seafood from entering the United States.

This is a statement by Oceana senior campaign director Beth Lowell:

Today’s announcement is a groundbreaking step towards more transparency and traceability in the seafood supply chain. We applaud President Obama for his ambitious plan to require traceability for imported seafood ‘at-risk’ of illegal fishing and seafood fraud.

For the first time ever, some imported seafood will now be held to the same standards as domestically caught fish, helping to level the playing field for American fishermen and reducing the risk facing U.S. consumers.

But the problem doesn’t stop here. We must continue to build on this important work and expand seafood traceability to include all seafood sold in the U.S. and extend it throughout the entire supply chain.

Without full-chain traceability for all seafood, consumers will continue to be cheated, hardworking, honest fishermen will continue to be undercut, and the long-term productivity of our oceans will continue to be in jeopardy.

American consumers deserve to know more about their seafood, including what kind of fish it is, and how and where it was caught or farmed. While Oceana celebrates today’s announcement, there’s still more to do in the fight against illegal fishing and seafood fraud.

 

About Oceana…

Oceana’s investigations of fish, shrimp, crab cakes and most recently salmon, in retail markets and restaurants found that, on average, one-third of the seafood examined in these studies was mislabeled — the product listed on the label or menu was different from what the buyer thought they purchased, often a less desirable or lower-priced species. Oceana has observed threatened species being sold as more sustainable, expensive varieties replaced with cheaper alternatives and fish that can cause illness substituted in place of those that are safer to eat.

In September, Oceana released a report detailing the global scale of seafood fraud, finding that on average, one in five of more than 25,000 samples of seafood tested worldwide was mislabeled. In the report, Oceana reviewed more than 200 published studies from 55 countries, on every continent except Antarctica, and found seafood fraud in 99.9 percent of the studies. The studies reviewed also found seafood mislabeling in every sector of the seafood supply chain: retail, wholesale, distribution, import/export, packaging/processing and landing.

The report also highlighted recent developments in the European Union to crack down on illegal fishing and improve transparency and accountability in the seafood supply chain. According to Oceana’s analysis, preliminary data out of the EU suggests that catch documentation, traceability and consumer labeling are feasible and effective at reducing seafood fraud.

For more information about Oceana’s campaign to stop seafood fraud, please visit www.oceana.org/fraud.

Environmentalists sue De Beers over mercury at Canadian diamond mine

Wildlands League has gone to court against De Beers Canada Inc. for allegedly failing to report levels of mercury and methylmercury at its Victor Diamond Mine site in northern Ontario.

Methylmercury, a neurotoxin, can threaten the health of human and aquatic life.

Wildlands League alleges De Beers failed to report properly on mercury levels from five out of nine surface water monitoring stations for the creeks next to its open pit mine between 2009 and 2016, violating a condition of its Certificate of Approval. These are offenses under the Ontario Water Resources Act. 

“Private prosecutions are an important tool that allows private citizens to hold industry to account,” said Julia Croome, a lawyer with Ecojustice, which is representing the Wildlands League.

“When governments don’t enforce their own laws, this course of action is in the public interest,” Croome said.

The reporting failures undermined the effectiveness of the mine’s early warning system for mercury pollution, Ecojustice lawyers assisting the group say.

De Beers’ plans include extending the life of the Victor mine by digging the existing pit deeper and by digging another pit to bring the ore back to the Victor site for processing.

The Victor Diamond Mine is the first of 16 potential open pit mines that De Beers could build in the Attawapiskat River watershed. Further, a number of major mines have also been proposed for the Ring of Fire region, further upstream.

Wildlands League alerted the province and De Beers to the failures more than 18 months ago.

The group then outlined these concerns and others last December, in a special public report, “Nothing to See Here: failures of self-monitoring and reporting at the De Beers Victor Diamond Mine in Canada.”

“After months and months of silence from Ontario, we felt we had no choice but to file charges,” said Trevor Hesselink, citizen informant in this case, and Wildlands League director of policy and research.

“We expected Ontario to enforce its own laws. If we can’t rely on Ontario to oversee a single diamond mine, how can we trust it to oversee the many northern infrastructure and mining developments that are on the horizon?” Hesselink added.

The mine does not directly deposit methylmercury into nearby creeks.

Instead, its activities trigger impacts on the environment by stimulating the conversion of mercury already present in the ecosystem into methylmercury.

Methylmercury enters the food chain when fish absorb it directly through their gills or when they consume small organisms, like plankton, that are contaminated. The neurotoxin quickly concentrates at harmful levels in top predator fish and game, posing risks to indigenous people and recreational fishers that eat fish or game caught in the region.

The highest risks are borne by women of childbearing age and children under 15, as methylmercury affects brain and nervous system development.

The maximum fine under the Ontario Water Resources Act for a first time corporate offender is $250,000 per day.

De Beers has been ordered to make a first appearance in the Ontario Court of Justice in Toronto on Jan. 12, 2017.

Botulism suspected in deaths of birds along Lake Michigan

Officials say botulism is suspected in the deaths of hundreds of birds recently along Lake Michigan.

Dan Ray, botulism monitoring project lead for Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, counted a large number of dead birds last week.

The Traverse City Record-Eagle reports he joined a team of volunteers over the weekend in burying 250 birds at Michigan’s Good Harbor Bay Beach.

Ray says the birds “almost certainly” died of type E botulism. He expects to see more dead birds on Lake Michigan’s shoreline through November.

Typically, type E botulism occurs in fish-eating birds in the open waters of the Great Lakes.

The nonprofit conservation group Common Coast says the bird deaths extended at least 10 miles up the Leelanau Peninsula and past Leland, Michigan.

On the Web

http://www.nps.gov/slbe/learn/nature/sick-birds.htm

Meet Megalolamna paradoxodon: Scientists discover new large prehistoric shark

Megalolamna paradoxodon is the name of a new extinct shark named by an international research team that based its discovery on fossilized teeth up to 4.5 centimeters (1.8 inches) tall found from the eastern and western United States (California and North Carolina), Peru and Japan.

The fossil shark lived during the early Miocene epoch about 20 million years ago and belongs to a shark group called Lamniformes, which includes the modern-day great white and mako sharks.

More specifically, it belongs to Otodontidae, which contains the iconic extinct superpredator megalodon or the megatoothed shark, and as an otodontidMegalolamna paradoxodon represents a close cousin of the megatoothed lineage, said Kenshu Shimada, a paleobiologist at DePaul University and research associate at the Sternberg Museum in Kansas.

Certain dental features suggest its otodontid affinity, but in many other aspects, teeth of the new fossil shark look superficially like over-sized teeth of the modern-day salmon shark that belongs to the genus Lamna — hence the new genus Megalolamna, the researchers noted.

The new species name paradoxodon, or paradoxical teeth, comes from the fact that the shark appears to emerge suddenly in the geologic record with a yet unresolved nearly 45-million-year gap from when Megalolamna possibly split from its closest relative Otodus.

Although smaller than members of the megatoothed lineage containing megalodon that reached well over 10 meters (33 feet), Megalolamna paradoxodon is still an impressive shark, estimated to be minimally equivalent to the size of a typical modern-day great white — roughly 4 meters (13 feet) in length.

Living in the same ancient oceans megatoothed sharks inhabited, Megalolamna paradoxodon had grasping-type front teeth and cutting-type rear teeth likely used to seize and slice medium-sized fish.

“It’s quite remarkable that such a large lamniform shark with such a global distribution had evaded recognition until now, especially because there are numerous Miocene localities where fossil shark teeth are well sampled,” said Shimada, lead author of the study.

In classifying the new fossil shark, the research team also came to a conclusion that members of the megatoothed lineage, including megalodon, ought to be classified into the genus Otodus, and not to its traditional genus Carcharocles.

“The idea that megalodon and its close allies should be placed in Otodus is not new, but our study is the first of its kind that logically demonstrates the taxonomic proposition,” Shimada noted.

The new study is appearing in the international scientific journal Historical Biology.

In addition to Shimada, other authors include Richard Chandler, North Carolina State University; Otto Lok Tao Lam, The University of Hong Kong; Takeshi Tanaka, Japan; and David Ward, The Natural History Museum, London.

Megalolamna paradoxodon, which measured roughly 13 feet in length, is the name of new extinct shark described by an international research team that lived during the early Miocene epoch about 20 million years ago. Megalolamna paradoxodon had grasping-type front teeth and cutting-type rear teeth likely used to seize and slice medium-sized fish and it lived in the same ancient oceans megatoothed sharks inhabited. — IMAGE: Credit: Kenshu Shimada/DePaul University
Megalolamna paradoxodon, which measured roughly 13 feet in length, is the name of new extinct shark described by an international research team that lived during the early Miocene epoch about 20 million years ago. Megalolamna paradoxodon had grasping-type front teeth and cutting-type rear teeth likely used to seize and slice medium-sized fish and it lived in the same ancient oceans megatoothed sharks inhabited. — IMAGE: Credit: Kenshu Shimada/DePaul University

Land mines of the sea: Cleaning up lost fishing gear

They are the land mines of the sea, killing long after being forgotten.

Abandoned or lost fishing gear, including traps, crab pots and nets, litter the ocean floor in coastal areas around the world. Many continue to attract, entrap and kill fish and other marine life in what’s called “ghost fishing.”

Groups, governments and companies around the world are engaged in efforts to retrieve and recycle as much of the abandoned gear as they can get their hands on. The goal is to protect the environment, prevent marine life from being killed, remove threats to navigation, and in some cases, generate energy.

Pascal van Erp, a Dutch diver who was horrified by the amount of abandoned fishing equipment he encountered, founded the Ghost Fishing Foundation to tackle the issue.

“The problem with lost gear is enormous,” he said. “It is found in all seas, oceans and inland waters at all depths, along the beach and under the sand. I think the problem never can be resolved completely, but we can keep it from getting worse by showing the problem to the public and the authorities.”

For as long as mankind has been fishing, it has been losing some of that gear, but the problem has become particularly acute in recent decades with rapid advances in technology and the expansion of global fishing fleets.

Industry experts and scientists estimate that commercial fishermen lose about 10 percent of their traps per year to bad weather, currents that drag them to far-flung places or boats that sever tie lines intended to keep them in place.

Recommended solutions include degradable panels on traps that will quickly break down and allow trapped marine life to escape, and fast-degrading screws on whelk pots that serve the same purpose. Numerous international agreements also prohibit the deliberate dumping of fishing equipment at sea.

Some debris is deliberately thrown overboard; in England, small vessels can run up landfill charges of 500 British pounds ($702) per year, giving them an incentive to ditch broken gear.

“Crabs get trapped in the pots and starve to death,” said John Wnek, supervisor of New Jersey’s Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science, whose students are involved in a project to collect abandoned fishing gear from New Jersey’s Barnegat Bay. “They’re still fishing long after they’re not supposed to be. This happens everywhere there’s commercial fishing.”

A 2009 United Nations report estimated there are 640,000 tons of abandoned fishing nets on the ocean floor worldwide. A 2005 survey found fishing boats in Greenland lose an average of 15 nets per day, stretching nearly 2,500 feet.

A 2001 study suggested that ghost fishing kills 4 million to 10 million blue crabs each year in Louisiana alone.

A 2002 study found 260,000 traps being lost each year in the Gulf of Arabia, leading the United Arab Emirates to mandate degradable panels in the traps, a step other jurisdictions have also adopted. The following year, a study in South Korea off the coast of Incheon found 97,000 tons of discarded fishing gear, and about 1,000 tons of lost gear are recovered each year from the Sea of Japan.

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service estimates 12 miles of net are lost each day of the fishing season in the North Pacific, and in Queensland, Australia, about 6,000 crab pots are lost each year.

While the scope of the problem is vast, so is the range of projects to address it. One such effort, called “Fishing For Energy,” has collected over 3 million pounds of discarded fishing gear nationwide. It has already plucked more than 400 crab traps from Barnegat Bay and has its sights on 600 more. It also is active in Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Florida.

Traps that are still usable are returned to local fishermen; unusable ones are either recycled or burned in one of 40 trash-to-energy incinerators run by the energy company Covanta.

The work involves volunteers taking boats onto the bay and using sonar to detect crab pots on the bay’s floor. They mark the spot with buoys and slowly sail over them, trying to snag the debris with a grappling hook dragged from a heavy rope. It is funded in part by a $109,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Cleanups are also underway in other countries. A September effort in Orkney, England, retrieved 60 crab pots and 25 whelk pots, along with rope and netting that a local artist used to create doormats.

 

 

Environmentalists seize on latest Santa Barbara oil spill

The latest oil spill on the California coast at Santa Barbara is just a drop in the bucket compared with the area’s catastrophic blowout in 1969, but it has become a new rallying point for environmentalists in their battle against drilling and fossil fuels.

No one expects damage on the order of the 1969 disaster, which helped give rise to the modern environmental movement and led to passage of some of the nation’s most important environmental laws.

Nevertheless, the new spill from a ruptured underground pipe is being held up as another reason to oppose such things as fracking, the Keystone XL pipeline that would run from Canada to Texas, the moving of crude by train, and drilling in far-flung places.

“What we see from this event is that the industry still poses enormous risks to an area we cannot afford to lose,” said Joel Reynolds of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The timing of the leak — days after a federal agency approved Shell’s plan for drilling in the Arctic, and while the Obama administration considers opening the Atlantic to exploration — could work to the advantage of environmental groups.

Closer to home, it could galvanize opposition to plans for new drilling in the Santa Barbara Channel, where Union Oil’s platform blew out 46 years ago, spewing an estimated 3 million gallons of crude along 30 miles of coast. Some 9,000 birds died.

The spill involved an estimated 105,000 gallons of crude; about 21,000 is believed to have made it to the sea and split into slicks that stretched 9 miles along the same stretch of coast fouled in 1969. A 23-mile by 7-mile area was closed to fishing.

There was no estimate on the cost of the cleanup.

The 24-inch pipe, built in 1987, had no previous problems and was thoroughly inspected in 2012, according to its operator, Plains All American Pipeline. The pipe underwent similar tests about two weeks ago, though the results had not been analyzed yet.

Company officials said it can take weeks or months after excavation and inspection of the broken pipeline to determine the cause of the spill.

The 1969 spill was a watershed event in the area and also for the nation.

Artist Bud Bottoms remembers yelling, “We’ve got to get oil out!” thus coining what became a rallying cry and the name of the organization he founded, Get Oil Out, or GOO.

“We made so much noise about the oil spill in our pristine Santa Barbara coast that it was called the ‘environmental shot heard ‘round the world,’” Bottoms said.

The stench was terrible, and he remembers people crying at the sight of the beaches. Inmates were brought in to help spread bales of straw to sop up the mess.

His group helped gather 200,000 signatures to get the oil rigs removed from the coast. That never happened, but over the next few years significant legislation was passed to protect endangered species and the air and water. The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970.

Sean Anderson, environmental professor at California State University, Channel Islands, said he doesn’t think this week’s spill will have any effect on policies or regulations, mostly because there are so many already in place.

“The 1969 spill created a panoply of federal, state and county level regulations and laws,” he said. “From that watershed event, a huge array of policy and procedural tools emerged.”

Tupper Hull, a spokesman with Western States Petroleum Association, said the industry expects a certain amount of blowback but not necessarily new regulation.

“It’s no secret that there are groups that have an agenda to curtail energy production in California,” Hull said. “They will no doubt reference this tragedy in their advocacy. We will respond with a measured, thoughtful response that will make full use of facts.”

Plains All American and its subsidiaries operate more than 6,000 miles of hazardous liquid pipelines in at least 20 states, according to company reports. Those companies handle more than 4 million barrels of crude and other liquid fuels daily.

Since 2006, the companies have reported 199 accidents and been subject to 22 enforcement actions by federal regulators. The accidents resulted in a combined 725,500 gallons of hazardous liquids spilled and damage topping $25 million.

Corrosion was determined to be the cause in more than 80 of those accidents. Failures in materials, welds and other equipment were cited more than 70 times.

Enforcement cases against the companies resulted in the collection of $154,000 in penalties, according to a federal database.

Patrick Hodgins, senior director of safety for Plains All American, said the company has spent more than $1.3 billion since 2007 on maintenance, repair and enhancement of its equipment.

“Safety is not just a priority; it’s actually a core value at Plains,” he said.

One local group that arose out of the 1969 disaster was the local Environmental Defense Center, which is now trying to block certain drilling projects.

“It doesn’t matter how many laws you have on the books or how many regulations you have and it doesn’t matter what advancements are made in technology,” said Linda Krop, the group’s chief counsel. “Oil development is risky business and will result in oil spills.”

Scientists seek to mimic how fish produce sunscreen

Scientists from Oregon State University have discovered that fish can produce their own sunscreen, and they have copied the method used by fish for potential use in humans. 

In the study published in the journal eLife, scientists say zebrafish can produce a chemical — gadusol — that protects against UV radiation. The researchers reproduced the method that zebrafish use by expressing relevant genes in yeast. The findings open the door to production of gadusol for sunscreen and as an antioxidant in pharmaceuticals.

“The fact that the compound is produced by fish, as well as by other animals including birds, makes it a safe prospect to ingest in pill form,” said professor Taifo Mahmud, lead author of the study.

However, further studies will be needed to test if and how gadusol is absorbed, distributed and metabolized in the body to check its efficacy and safety.

Gadusol was originally identified in cod roe and has since been discovered in the eyes of the mantis shrimp, sea urchin eggs, sponges and in the dormant eggs and newly hatched larvae of brine shrimps. It was previously thought that fish can only acquire the chemical through diet or through a symbiotic relationship with bacteria.

Marine organisms in the upper ocean and on reefs are subject to intense and often unrelenting sunlight, according to the researchers. Gadusol and related compounds are of scientific interest for their ability to protect against DNA damage from UV rays. There is evidence that amphibians, reptiles and birds can also produce gadusol, but the genetic machinery is lacking in humans and other mammals. 

The study team was investigating compounds similar to gadusol that are used to treat diabetes and fungal infections. It was believed that the biosynthetic enzyme common to all of them, EEVS, was only present in bacteria. The scientists were surprised to discover that fish and other vertebrates contain similar genes to those that code for EEVS. 

Curious about their function in animals, they expressed the zebrafish gene in E. coli and analysis suggested that fish combine EEVS with another protein, whose production may be induced by light, to produce gadusol.

To check that this combination is really sufficient, the scientists transferred the genes to yeast and set them to work to see what they would create. This confirmed the production of gadusol. Its successful production in yeast provides a viable route to commercialization.

As well as providing UV protection, gadusol may also play a role in stress responses, in embryonic development and as an antioxidant.

“In the future it may be possible to use yeast to produce large quantities of this natural compound for sunscreen pills and lotions, as well as for other cosmetics sold at your local supermarket or pharmacy,” Mahmud said.

Reward offered after throats of 14 pelicans are slashed, 10 die

Two national organizations — the Humane Society of the United States and The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust — are offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for slashing the throat pouches of 14 brown pelicans in South Florida, leaving 10 dead and another four injured.

This adds to existing rewards totaling $6,000 offered by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and a local construction company. FWC is investigating the incidents, which occurred in January.

Over a period of a few weeks, the pelicans began turning up on Cudjoe Key and in areas from Sugarloaf Key to Big Pine Key. Officers believe the injuries were intentionally inflicted on the birds with a sharp knife. Slitting the throats of pelicans, who use their pouches to skim the water and collect fish, causes them to suffer agonizingly slow deaths from starvation. 

Kate MacFall, Florida state director for The HSUS, said, “The particularly gruesome and malicious nature of the attacks on these pelicans, who pose no threat to anyone, is heartbreaking. Whoever is serially mutilating these animals must be caught and severely punished. We are so thankful to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for their determination to find those responsible.”

Pelicans have suffered from a rash of violence in Florida, including two other attacks in January. A local bird rescue found 18 pelicans near Jacksonville that were beaten and suffering from severely broken wings.

In a separate incident in Fort Lauderdale, a teenager faces criminal charges for allegedly torturing a pelican with vapor from an electronic cigarette and suffocating the bird to death. In 2013 and 2014, at least 10 pelicans were victims of throat-slashing.

Pesticides, trophy hunting and mass killing by fishermen decimated brown pelican populations in the early 1900s. While their century-long recovery effort is considered by many to be a major conservation success story, they still face serious threats from oil spills, habitat destruction, entanglement in fishing lines, and the disappearance of major food sources.

Brown pelicans were removed from the Endangered Species List in 2009 but remain protected under the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act and as a State Species of Special Concern by Florida’s Endangered and Threatened Species Rule.

Harming a brown pelican is punishable by fines and jail time.

Poaching:

• Wildlife officials estimate that nationwide, tens of millions of animals are poached annually.

• It is estimated that only 1 percent to 5 percent of poached animals come to the attention of law enforcement.

• Poachers injure or kill wildlife anytime, anywhere and sometimes do so in particularly cruel ways. Wildlife officials report that poachers often commit other crimes as well.

• The HSUS and The Trust work with state and federal wildlife agencies to offer rewards of $5,000 for information leading to arrest and conviction of suspected poachers.

Hugh Jackman talks fish, blood and his new show

Before Hugh Jackman could appear in his current Broadway play, “The River,” he had to learn his lines, dig deep into his character and do something he’s never done before: gut a fish.

His character is a fisherman who in one scene pulls out a real 3-pound sea trout, cuts it open with a fearsome-looking knife, removes the internal organs, chops a fennel bulb, slips lemon slices into the skin and seasons the flesh before popping the dish in a fake oven.

It’s a mesmerizing scene and Jackman — a man who plays a sharp-clawed Wolverine in the movies — seems completely at ease as he unhurriedly prepares the fish like a Food Network veteran.

He wasn’t always so calm.

“I was originally a little nervous about it,” said Jackman over lunch in Manhattan. “I’d never done it before and I knew it had to look like he’d been doing it his whole life.”

So Jackman did what any actor worth his salt does: He consulted chefs and practiced. He originally planned to gut a fish every day for months until it became second nature, but he was told the better route was to gut 40 in a single, fishy session.

He got out his knives and made fish fillets and fish sticks and fish soup. “There are fish cakes still frozen in my freezer,” he said, laughing. “No one’s having fish at my house for a long time.”

The scene comes in the middle of Jez Butterworth’s enigmatic play about love and repetition. Various women from the fisherman’s past enter and leave his remote fishing cabin, warping time and space.

“I think the more poetically you take the piece, and less literally you take the piece, the deeper you go with it,” Jackman said. “Ultimately, I think it’s a play that just spoke to me and my heart. I read it and I was like, ‘Wow. There’s something very true and real and honest about connection, about loss, about the search in life.’ That’s something that I’ve always had.”

Jackman, who plays the pirate Blackbeard in next year’s “Pan” and said he’s close to starring in an original movie musical about P.T. Barnum, threw himself into the new play. He spoke to memory experts and read works by psychotherapist Carl Jung.

To nail the fish dish preparation scene, Jackman also consulted with a master — chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, where he has chosen to eat on this afternoon. But Jackman has turned down the lobster tartine and caramelized foie gras for a more modest lunch of raw avocado, toast, peanut butter and marmalade.

“Perfect,” he said when his plate arrives. “I really love going to a three-star Michelin restaurant and they say, ‘You really must try the marmalade with your peanut butter.’”

“The River,” at Circle in the Square Theatre, has been a sellout, in part to Jackman’s star power. But even with his comfort in front of an audience, the fish-gutting scene didn’t go too smoothly when he first performed it, despite all the practice.

“I’ll admit: The first time I did it, I remember thinking, ‘My heart rate is about 75 beats a minute,’” said Jackman. Things got worse when he cut off the end of his thumb.

“It was not much but it was enough of a cut and it bled the entire play. I didn’t realize it was that bad. I thought it would stop,” he said. He could hear the audience murmur about it. “It was not my finest moment.”

There were pools of Jackman’s blood all over the set and the onstage carpet had to be pulled up and cleaned. “I’m a little slower now but now I’ve really got it. Now I’m really enjoying it,” he said.

He’d better: Jackman is eating fish eight times a week as part of the show. The raw trout he’s prepared is quietly swapped out for a roasted one, prepared for each performance from the nearby Emmett O’Lunney’s Irish Pub.

Jackman, who also washes his hands and kitchen tools in a working water spigot onstage, had wanted to cook his fish each time, but it turns out it’s illegal to have a working oven onstage.

Instead, he now bites into the catered fish at each show — and adores it, insisting it doesn’t get old.

“Actors love that: free food,” he said. “That never leaves you.”