Hungry Americans threaten fish stocks

Another seafood entree has become too popular for a species to sustain. Overfishing is threatening the orange roughy, plus other imported fish in demand in the U.S., according to a recently released scientific study.

The study, prepared by the World Wildlife Fund and Traffic, the wildlife trade-monitoring network, said rapidly expanding and unregulated fishing in deep waters could make orange roughy commercially extinct if protective measures are not taken immediately by international governing bodies. According to Traffic, some stocks of deep ocean fish have been "wiped out" in less than four years.

The report attributed the decline to the growing demand for fish, particularly in the United States, which imports 19 million pounds of orange roughy annually. The endangered fisheries are located off New Zealand, Australia, the southern Indian Ocean and the Northeast Atlantic.

— J. Michael Kennedy

Troops' needs take priority

The massive effort to outfit U.S. troops stationed in Iraq is affecting manufacturing capacity in the outdoor industry, from tents to sleeping bags.

Integral Designs, based in Alberta, Canada, has delayed production of bivy sacks, fleece and Gore-Tex clothing for hikers and climbers as plants produce bivy sacks for the U.S. Navy Seals. Johnson Outdoors, a producer of diving and outdoor equipment with yearly revenue of more than $315.5 million, recently announced a contract to supply the U.S. military with 6,500 tents over the next 15 months, the second order in less than six months.

"The outdoor industry focuses on gear for remote and harsh conditions, so it's natural we'll be asked to produce for the military when demand unexpectedly increases," said Dana Donley of the Outdoor Industry Assn., a trade group. Donley said she didn't expect military production to affect consumers through scarcity of products or changing prices.

— Charles Duhigg

Picking up the tab for wolves

The Defenders of Wildlife, which pays ranchers for livestock killed by wolves, paid more than $68,000 in the 12-month period that ended in October.

The organization established a special fund for the payouts in 1987 to ensure that ranchers were compensated for livestock killed by wolves, which were reintroduced into the Yellowstone National Park ecosystem in 1995.

Payments have grown from $7,480 in 1996 to the record set in 2003. Nina Fascione, the organization's vice president for species conservation, said the increase was expected as the wolf population grew but added that it was a much lower figure than originally predicted.

Since the fund was established, the Defenders of Wildlife has paid for 377 cattle and 897 sheep killed by wolves.

— J. Michael Kennedy