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Making Responsibility Our Business  

June 30, 2014


As researchers, we focus on sound science and as a company, we root ourselves in the principles of business. But at FISHBIO, we also value a third element of our work just as highly: that of responsibility. The historic American culture of capitalism suggests that if everyone focuses on being self-sufficient and successful, those around us will benefit indirectly. While this is sometimes true, we think the mantra falls short of ensuring a better, sustainable tomorrow - so we prefer to take direct action to serve our communities and help our environment, both locally and globally.


In a world of mergers, acquisitions, and restructures, the term 'corporate responsibility' often has a connotation similar to that of a flu shot: many feel it is necessary, not everyone subscribes to its effectiveness, and it is often in short supply. But being a conscientious company is not about mandates, social perceptions, or even being trendy; being responsible for the world around us is a way of life. Through our daily business, we've learned that we need to be efficient, competitive, and consistent to succeed. Yet our team is also motivated by another set of core values that we feel need to be expressed: a desire to share, give back, and make a difference.


Identifying that we wanted to be a different kind of company was the first step. Making this a reality is the fun part. Each year we seek out opportunities to practice 'responsibility,' not as a requirement, but as part of our company culture to give back. We've seen firsthand how small measures can make a big impact. For example, if you want to find a good source of rusting shopping carts, visit a bridge overpass and take a swim in the river below. In 2013, our team participated in six river cleanup events to remove this kind of harmful debris from local rivers. Our motivation was obvious, given the importance of clean rivers as healthy fish habitat, but rivers are also an important source of our nation's drinking water. National cleanup programs such as this have removed 17 million pounds of trash from American waterways over the last 20 years, and we can affirm that there is still plenty to do in 2014.

We also make a regular practice of visiting local classrooms and participating in community outreach events. In early 2014, we took this a step further by creating our Three Rivers Education Program, which is a FISHBIO grassroots effort to educate children in our home cities (Oakdale and Chico, CA) as well as the country of Laos about the importance of rivers, fish, and culture. Children learned about native fish in their own backyard, exchanged photos and letters with classrooms in the other respective country, and got to know Chinook salmon and Mekong giant catfish. We hope this early exposure to the importance of our environment offers an excellent start for future generations to act as good stewards - and also shows that conservation is cool.


How can you implement a change this year through your daily activities? Recycling is always a good start, but how about going deeper: try volunteering for a citizen science stream survey, participating in a river cleanup, or taking part in a school education event. Encouraging friends and family to do the same can produce a bigger impact than you might imagine. Responsibility takes on many different shapes and forms, but it all begins with the desire to give back.

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Recent Blog Posts
Rings in their ears

Fish bones have plenty of stories to tell - particularly a special type of ear bone called an otolith that keeps a record of a fish's entire life. A whole field of fish science revolves around the study of these little bones, which can reveal a fish's age and movement. Our staff in Laos got their hands on a surprisingly large otolith while visiting a conservation hatchery in Thailand - but not without some struggle first!


Fish have three pairs of otoliths located behind the brain, each with a different shape, that help the fish with hearing and balance. The largest pair, the sagittae, is most commonly studied because these otoliths are the easiest to find when dissecting a fish. The other otoliths are called the lapilli and the asterisci.



Similar to tree rings, fish otoliths lay down roughly one pair of translucent and opaque bands every year to make a ring. These show up as light and dark bands under a microscope, and counting them provides an estimate of the fish's age. Additional studies are also needed to validate these ring counts - that is, to verify if one pair of bands actually does equal one year of age, or if the fish deposit bands more or less frequently (Beamish and McFarlane 1983). Records of a fish's size in combination with its age help scientists determine how fast a fish species grows...


IN THE NEWS: Recent stories you might have missed...
Drought helps coho salmon set migration record

San Francisco Chronicle

The strange ways of Mother Nature were on display this year when a record number of Marin County's storied coho salmon migrated to the ocean, an astonishing quirk for a fishery otherwise ravaged by drought. Almost 20,000 juvenile coho swam out of Lagunitas Creek into the ocean in the spring in the largest salmon migration that scientists have recorded since they started estimating the fish outflow in 2006... Read more >  

Biologists with tagged trout pitch to pelicans
Twin Falls Times-News

Trade the ball for a dead fish, and distance throwing requires an unfamiliar technique. Put your back into the windup, and the fish leaves the launcher at the top of your arc and flies straight into the air. But save your thrust for the end of the swing instead, and that trout splashes down far away from the boat. "Nice toss!" Kevin Meyer said. All the better to lure a wary pelican. "I got it figured out now," Pat Kennedy said... Read more >  

5 strategies to get sustainable fish farming right 
Green Biz
The world's appetite for fish is steadily growing. Finfish and shellfish currently make up one-sixth of the animal protein people consume globally. As the global wild fish catch peaked in the 1990s, aquaculture, or fish farming, has grown rapidly to meet world fish demand, more than doubling production between 2000 and 2012. New research shows that aquaculture production will need to more than double again between now and 2050 to meet the demands of a growing population... Read more >
Resource depletion in Mekong delta alarming
VietNam Net

Nguyen Thanh Nguyen, vice chairman of Long An Province, said at the forum held in Long An that the province had to pay dearly for the ten-fold rice yield increase to three million tons now compared to the late 1970s. The ecosystem of Dong Thap Muoi area has been spoiled as much of the area has been turned into rice fields. Besides, the brackish water ecosystem in coastal areas has almost been wiped out recently due to shrimp farming, he added... Read more > 

Fish-eating spiders can catch prey 5 times their size 

National Geographic

It isn't easy being a little fish. Predators dart at them underwater. Humans try to snare them with hooks. And other species-more than we'd thought, it turns out-can pounce on them from above. According to a new study, spiders in 8 of the world's 109 arachnid families can catch and consume small fish. Some of them can even subdue fish five times heavier than they are. These arachnids are nearly everywhere... Read more >