Posts Tagged seafood

May 31 2019

Keep eating fish; it’s the best way to feed the world

The famous ocean explorer, Sylvia Earle, has long advocated that people stop eating fish. Recently, George Monbiot made a similar plea in The Guardian – there’s only one way to save the life in our oceans, stop eating fish – which, incidentally, would condemn several million people to starvation.

In both cases, it’s facile reasoning. The oceans may suffer from many things, but fishing isn’t the biggest. Earle and Monbiot’s sweeping pronouncements lack any thought for the consequences of rejecting fish and substituting fish protein for what? Steak? That delicious sizzler on your plate carries the most appallingly large environmental costs regarding fresh water, grain production, land use, erosion, loss of topsoil, transportation, you name it.

Luckily for our planet, not everyone eats steak. You’re vegan, you say, and your conscience is clean. An admirable choice – so long as there aren’t too many of you. For the sake of argument and numbers, let us assume that we can substitute plant protein in the form of tofu, made from soybeans, for fish protein. Soybeans need decent land; in fact it would take 2.58 times the land area of England to produce enough tofu to substitute for no longer available fish. That extra amount of decent arable land just isn’t available – unless we can persuade Brazil, Ecuador and Columbia to cut down more of the Amazon rainforest. We would also add 1.71 times the amount of greenhouse gases that it takes to catch the fish.

And, again for the sake of argument, were we to substitute beef for fish, we would need 192.43 Englands to raise all that cattle and greenhouse gases would rocket to 42.4 times what they are from fishing.

But aren’t there alternatives that we can eat with a clean conscience? It depends. First, we must accept the inescapable truth that everyone has to eat. You and I and another few billion humans right down to the single cell organisms. The second inescapable truth arises from the first but is often ignored, is that there is no free lunch. The big variable in this business of eating is deciding the appropriate price to the environment.

There are costs to each mouthful. By the time you swallow it, that mouthful has racked up a huge amount of unseen costs: production of greenhouse gases, pollution of air and waterways, soil erosion, use of freshwater, use of antibiotics, and impacts on terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity.

After extensive studies, it turns out that some fish have the lowest green house gas footprint per unit of protein.

However, it doesn’t have to be that costly. Ocean fisheries don’t cause soil erosion, don’t blow away the topsoil, don’t use any significant freshwater, don’t use antibiotics and don’t have anything to do with nutrient releases, that devastating form of pollution that causes algal blooms in freshwater and dead zones in the ocean. After extensive studies, it turns out that some fish have the lowest green house gas footprint per unit of protein. Better even than plants. Sardines, herring, mackerel, anchovies and farmed shellfish all have a lower GHG footprint than plants, and many other fisheries come close.

A ringing endorsement of fish over meat came in 2013, when Andy Sharpless, the CEO of the conservation group Oceana, pointed out that you can sustainably produce food from the sea at low environmental cost. In his book, The Perfect Protein: The Fish Lover’s Guide to Saving the Oceans, Sharpless says, “What if there was a healthy, animal sourced protein, that both the fats and the thins could enjoy without draining the life from the soil, without drying up our rivers, without polluting the air and the water, without causing our planet to warm even more, without plaguing our communities with diabetes, heart disease and cancer?” His answer was to eat fish.

There has been plenty of criticism of commercial fisheries, mostly focused on the impacts on marine ecosystems – fishing certainly reduces the abundance of fish in the ocean, and also non-target species like marine birds, mammals and turtles. But consider the alternative.

Suspend, for a minute, your image of food from the land as it appears to most of us in grocery stores or farmers’ markets – beautifully arranged vegetables, tasty bread, pretty cuts of meat as well as pre-cooked, pre-packaged, eternally preserved fast food. Then cast your minds to how and from where it comes, the raw material from a field. The land as it once was has been totally transformed by farming, replacing original habitat by clearcutting every type of existing flora and replacing it with exotic species, that would be grains, vegetables and fruit trees. Farming, be it agrobusiness or subsistence, essentially eliminates the habitat for indigenous species, and thousands of them have gone extinct because of food production, whereas no marine fish is known to have gone extinct from fishing. The ocean will remain the ocean, though of course we have to manage fish stocks well. We should press our governments to manage fisheries sustainably and minimize the environmental impacts of fishing.

Let’s give a final thought to the reality of boycotting fish and commercial fishing. The need for protein in this world is huge, and we certainly must not waste it. Fishing fleets are guided by quotas set by management and what Earle and Monbiot might boycott, will be shipped and gratefully eaten elsewhere.

Featured image: “Pile of Fish” by Oziel Gómez. Free for use via Pexels.

Ray Hilborn is a professor in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, specializing in natural resource management and conservation. He has co-authored several books and has published over 300 peer reviewed articles. His latest book, co-authored with Ulrike Hilborn, is Ocean Recovery: A sustainable future for global fisheries?

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Feb 25 2015

How Long Does Fresh Fish Last In The Fridge After You Buy It?


It’s a simple question, but one many people don’t know how to answer: How long does fresh fish last in the refrigerator after you buy it?

Equally passionate about good seafood as we are afraid of fish that’s gone bad, we at HuffPost Taste reached out to the experts to confirm the answer once and for all. After speaking with some fishmongers from around New York City, we found the consensus: Fresh fish lasts in the fridge for two to three days, at most.

The folks over at Brooklyn’s Fish Tales say that fish will keep for three days maximum. Of course, they buy fresh fish every morning and urge anyone to buy fish the same day they’re going to cook it. If that’s impossible, you should keep it on ice in the refrigerator. Never keep it in the freezer, they say.

According to the fishmongers at The Lobster Place, which also buys fresh seafood every day and suggests you do your shopping as close to the time that you’re planning to eat as possible, a whole fish will keep slightly longer than fillets. When you buy a whole fish, less of the area that you’re planning to eat is exposed to oxygen. This means it will keep a little longer. They estimate a whole fish will last a maximum of three days, while fillets will last closer to two days.

Certain fish will dry out faster than others, the folks at The Lobster Place say, and some will change color slightly as they age. Discoloration doesn’t necessarily indicate that the fish has spoiled, however. Your best method of deciphering whether or not your fish is still fresh is “by giving it the old smell test,” the fishmongers say. If it smells off, it probably is.

To prolong the lifespan of seafood, you need to store it correctly. Village Fishmonger has a detailed list of instructions for the proper way to store various kinds of seafood. (The website also has great instructions for prepping and cooking different kinds of seafood.) Village Fishmonger recommends storing fish two ways. The first is to keep the fish in its packaging or to seal it in a bag and rest it on top of ice. The second is to unwrap the fish and place it on top of a layer of plastic that is set over the ice. Either way, the fish should not come in direct contact with the ice.

Storing shellfish requires a different technique. Village Fishmonger suggests keeping clams and oysters covered with a damp paper towel in a container that will allow for drainage in case there’s any excess moisture. Fish Tales confirms: store shellfish in a bowl, covered with a paper towel, in the fridge.

The bottom line is that seafood is best eaten when it’s as fresh as possible — but with proper storage, it will last up to three days. Now that you know how long your fish will keep, check out the easy seafood recipes below. Just make sure to use the smell test before you get started.

Original article:  The Huffington Post  |  By Alison Spiegel

Feb 10 2015

For Rockfish, A Tale Of Recovery, Hidden On Menus

Preface: The authorized, State approved market name for 13 species of rockfish in California is “Pacific red snapper”, or Pacific snapper.


Donna Schroeder/From ‘Probably More Than You Want to Know About the Fishes of the Pacific Coast’/Courtesy Milton Love
A school of vermilion rockfish. After being depleted decades ago by overfishing, rockfish — a genus of more than 100 tasty species — have made a remarkable comeback.

For West Coast commercial fishermen and seafood lovers, there is reason to cheer. Rockfish, a genus of more than 100 tasty species depleted decades ago by excessive fishing, have rebounded from extreme low numbers in the 1990s.

It’s a conservation and fishery management success story that chefs, distributors and sustainable seafood advocates want the world to hear.

The rub? It’s hard to communicate this success if purveyors continue to misidentify the fish, as many do.

Now, this isn’t necessarily a case of retailers and chefs being shady. A big problem, says chef Rick Moonen, owner of RM Seafood in Las Vegas, is that fish go by different names in different places. Take rockfish, for example.

“On the East Coast, they call striped bass ‘rockfish.’ You offer them a chilipepper,” Moonen says, citing the name of one rockfish species, “and call it a ‘rockfish’ and they’ll think they’re getting a striped bass.”

Moonen is well known as a sustainable-seafood advocate. And he’s eager to tell the story of rockfish’s comeback, a result of tightened fishing restrictions and a reduction in the number of commercial trawlers raking the ocean bottom in pursuit of the buggy-eyed, spiny-backed fish.

But he says many diners are only familiar with a handful of fish species, and rockfish can sound “like an animal from the Flintstones cartoon.”

If the goal is to get consumers to develop a taste for these fish, Moonen suggests, you’ve got to market it to them in an appealing way. So for now, on his menu, rockfish are still being sold as “Pacific bass.”

“That’s … the Trojan horse we use to get this fish into people’s mouths,” he says. That said, Moonen says he plans to transition to using real names for rockfish.

Indeed, rebranding fish species with more appealing market names is a common and accepted practice in the seafood industry. Tooth fish are sold as Chilean sea bass, sablefish as black cod and slime head as orange roughy.

In these cases, it’s not quite fraud, because consumers understand what each market name means. As Derek Figueroa, chief operating officer with Seattle Fish, a distributor in Denver, observes, “It’s like asking for a Kleenex and getting some other tissue. It might not be what you asked for, but it’s what you had in mind.”

Not always, says Kim Warner, a senior scientist with the environmental group Oceana. She notes that rockfish is sometimes sold as snapper — but “snapper” is the name of another group of fish, which live in warm waters and are exceptionally tasty.

“What if someone who is familiar with real snapper comes to California?” asks Warner. “They’ll think they’re getting snapper. This absolutely confuses people.”

The debate over what to call rockfish comes as American consumers are increasingly demanding accurate information about their food and where it came from. And even if they don’t, correctly identifying fish on menus and in markets is the first step toward creating traceability in the often deceptive and murky fishing industry, says Sheila Bowman of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program.

“The only way to recognize and appreciate these fish is to start calling them by their proper names,” says Bowman.

Bowman says telling the story of West Coast rockfish is important, because it could inspire fishery managers elsewhere to use similar strategies to rebuild other depleted fisheries — such as the beleaguered Atlantic cod.

Oceana’s Warner notes that some instances of seafood mislabeling — such as calling farmed fish “wild,” or serving up a fish containing high mercury levels under an ambiguous label — are deceitful attempts to hide traits that might be seen as undesirable.

But the case of the West Coast rockfish fishery offers much to be proud of, she says — so chefs and vendors who pass rockfish off as something else are shooting themselves in the foot.

“If they’re celebrating that rockfish are doing well, why call them snapper?” Warner says. “You lose the story you’re trying to tell.”

Bowman says that on regular strolls through the seafood markets of Cannery Row, in downtown Monterey, Calif., she sees rockfish of all colors labeled as “snapper” and “rock cod.” Sometimes, chefs and vendors avoid the fishes’ real names because they are a mouthful for diners — like vermillion rockfish, bocaccio rockfish, chilipepper rockfish and shortbelly rockfish. But Figueroa at Seattle Fish says he’s excited to start using these exotic — and accurate — names.

And a little tableside education could quickly help consumers get over the unfamiliarity factor, adds John Rorapaugh, owner of a seafood wholesaler and distributor in Washington, D.C., called ProFish.

“I think it’s more interesting to use the real names,” Rorapaugh says. “If you have thornyhead rockfish on the menu, it will start a conversation.”

And if consumers start asking for these mild, white fish species by name, says Bowman, it could help boost demand — and prices — for rockfish. She says that could be good for both fish and fishermen.

“If rockfish fishermen are happy and making money, other fishermen will see that [the recovery efforts used for West Coast rockfish] could work in other places,” Bowman says. “But if fishermen are just getting a couple of bucks a pound for these fish, then the effort we made to bring this fishery back won’t be worth it.”

View original article here.

Feb 5 2015

Mike Hale, The Grub Hunter: Don’t slam the sardine

EP-150209946Smaller fish such as sardines and herring are less vulnerable to pollutants. (Bob Fila — Chicago Tribune file)

By Mike Hale, Monterey Herald

I live for Sardine Tuesdays, those rare occasions when Local Catch Monterey Bay offends some of its members by highlighting those small, oily “trash” fish that belong on the end of a hook — not in a fry pan fouling the air within two square blocks.

The sign-out sheet at my pickup location always includes more than a few persuasive scribbles from disappointed members urging someone — anyone — to take their share.

I always oblige. Then I tote home my double dose of sardines — meeting the cold glare of my fish-phobe wife and the delirious purr of our rotund Sopa, who creates a happy tangle of orange fur around my ankles.

Sardines and other small fish at the bottom of the food chain (herring, mackerel, smelt, anchovies) often end up in pet food, but in the right hands they are a tasty, healthful addition to the human diet (a fact ridiculously obvious anywhere outside our Fast Food Nation).

When Local Catch offers the smaller-sized sardines as it did last week, I prepare my home for a massive fish fry by opening my kitchen windows. It’s a simple process: I liberally season the cleaned, headless sardines before dredging them in flour and frying them in vegetable oil. After a spritzing of lemon juice, I hold these crispy beauties by the tail and eat them whole (the tiny bones practically dissolve upon cooking).

If that seems like a lot of trouble, order them out. Oddly enough, the former Sardine Capital of the World has traditionally boasted very few restaurants that serve these undervalued and underutilized fish (and believe it or not, the Sardine Factory has never served sardines).

But the tide is turning. Heading to Fisherman’s Wharf provides options: Domenico’s offers a fried anchovy appetizer and olive-oil marinated, grilled local sardines served with a Sicilian salsa; Abalonetti Bar & Grill grills its local sardines, topped with a spicy marinara. Off the pier: Crystal Fish in Monterey serves a fine sardine sushi; Lokal in Carmel Valley often adds to its menu tasty sardine sandwiches called bocadillos, slathering the bread with a pungent mojito aioli; jeninni kitchen + wine bar in Pacific Grove rolls out bruschetta with anchovies; and Mundaka in Carmel right now offers Spanish mackerel escabeche, a method where the fish is cooked before pickled.

Boats are pulling Spanish mackerel out of the bay now, and Mundaka chef Brandon Miller seasons them with fennel, black pepper and cumin before roasting. He then sautés vegetables, adding water and vinegar to create a pickling liquid he pours over the fish.

When smelt are running in San Francisco Bay, Miller will source them from his hometown and serve what he calls “fries with eyes.” He dredges the whole smelt in flour and deep-fries until crispy, serving them with a side of squid ink aioli.

“You can’t just eat all the big fish, because there is only so many of them in the ocean,” he said. “I like to target these little fish. They are delicious and really good for you.”

Cardiologists light up at the subject. Sardines and their brethren are full of heart-healthy omega-3s, and not full of toxins (such as mercury) that can build up in large fish such as tuna. They are also chock-full of fat-fighting compounds that help stabilize blood sugar, and rich in coenzyme Q10, vitamin B12, selenium, calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D.

Without a doubt, sardines are stinky, slimy, slippery and seemingly indigestible. But look closer, climb down the food chain and give them a try anyway. Open the windows, put on a pot of boiling vinegar and cause a stink.

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Jan 22 2015

Barbecue sardines — recipe

430607788-1abuh8lPicture: Iain Gillespie

Kirsty Carre — January 22, 2015 — Posted in the The West Australian

Serves 4

2 lemons, zested and juiced

2 green chillies

1/2 cup olive oil

2 tbsp parsley

3 garlic cloves

1 shallot, peeled

1/2 tsp salt

16 sardines, butterflied

2 tbsp olive oil

sourdough bread


Place the lemon zest and juice, chillies, olive oil, parsley, garlic cloves, peeled shallot and salt in a food processor and blitz until it forms a thick sauce. Coat the sardines in olive oil and place them in a barbecue cage (you may need to do this in several batches). Grill on either side for 2-3 minutes. Serve on grilled slices of sourdough with the sauce drizzled over the top.

Nov 18 2014

Dungeness crab fishery opens on Central California Coast, hundreds of boats participate

Published with permission from SEAFOODNEWS.COM by John Sackton Nov. 18, 2014
The Central California dungeness crab season opened on Saturday, and initial reports are that the catches are going well.

“”We’re guardedly optimistic,” said Zeke Grader executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Association.

“We could very well be looking at year records for this time of year, but that doesn’t mean there’s necessarily more crab than in previous years, it just means more crab has been harvested earlier.”

Each year vessels in the northern zones of California and Oregon have to make a decision whether to participate in the early Bay Area fishery that opens November 15th, or wait until the regular season opens in the Northern sections, which usually is around December 1st, but can be delayed by slow growth of the crabs.

Any vessel fishing in the southern zone has to wait 30 days after the northern seasons open before itr can return to fish in the northern areas.

This year, most boats from Crescent city in Northern California set out to fish the Bay area, based on reports of abundant crabs, and the recent facts that the central area has landed more crab than the north.

Last year, the northern area landed about 6.68 million lbs, while the southern area landed 10.41 million lbs.  This is different than the historical average, where landings are generally higher in the north.

In Northern California, Oregon and Washington, the opening is determined by when a test fishery operated by the three states shows the crabs have sufficient meat fill, above 25%.  This year, the tests are being done as late as possible.

Anecdotal reports from some of the sport fisheries suggest the crabs have good meat fill, and that the season may open on December 1st.

Tests for Eureka and Crescent city should be available later this week.

Between 2013 and 2014, dungeness landings coast wide fell about 28%.  The shortfall, combined with strong live market demand from china, has led to consistently high dungeness prices over the past year.

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Oct 28 2014

FDA finds wholesale seafood products are labeled correctly 85% of the time

Posted by permission of SEAFOODNEWS.COM [SCOM] October 27, 2014


A two-year long investigation by the FDA into seafood mislabeling among wholesaler distributors found that fish products are labeling correctly 85 percent of the time.

The FDA’s study (the report can be found here) tested seven hundred DNA samples collected from wholesalers in 14 states, prior to restaurant or retail sale. Part of the study had the FDA target seafood that is most often suspected to be mislabeled including cod, haddock, catfish, basa, swai, snapper and grouper. Of that group, the FDA said a majority of the mislabeling was found in two species, snappers and groupers, which represent less than two percent of total seafood sales.

“This extensive federal analysis brings the challenge of mislabeling into a much clearer focus,” said John Connelly, President of the National Fisheries Institute (NFI.) “While at the same time calling into question other mislabeling ‘studies’ that suggest the issue is widespread and in need of a legislative fix.”

The NFI has previously called for more enforcement of federal and state labeling laws, rather than new legislation, noting that multiple anti-fraud laws already exist.

“What the FDA found reinforces the need for implementation of rules already on the books,” said Lisa Weddig, Secretary of the Better Seafood Board (BSB.) “We don’t need more regulations and rhetoric, we need more enforcement.”

Along with releasing the findings, the FDA also released its first-ever online seafood labeling training module designed to instruct industry participants, retailers and state regulators how to properly label seafood items throughout the supply chain.

“Proper identification of seafood is important throughout the seafood supply chain to ensure that appropriate food safety controls are implemented and that consumers are getting the type of seafood they expect and for which they are paying,” the FDA said.

Meanwhile, the BSB and the National Restaurant Association will work together on the labeling issue through a memorandum of understanding that includes educational outreach and even menu audits.

“Eighty-five percent of seafood was labeled correctly and the mislabeling was focused on two species,” said Connelly. “Our job is to work with companies and focus on those problem areas.” He continued, “This type of information gives regulators important insights and helps them focus their resources. New laws don’t do that.”

Photo Credit: FDA

Ken Coons 1-781-861-1441
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Copyright © 2014

Oct 1 2014

Celebrating Seafood, Sustainability, and Stewardship

A Message from Eileen Sobeck, Head of NOAA Fisheries | October 1, 2014

The arrival of fall can mean only one thing: Seafood.

Yes, while we at NOAA Fisheries appreciate the changing of the leaves and cooler temperatures that signify the change in seasons, for us fall is a celebration of seafood.

October is National Seafood Month and a chance for the “seafoodie” in each of us to rejoice. Nationwide, restaurants and markets showcase new seafood choices on their menus that are healthy and flavorful, and that highlight the sustainability of U.S. fisheries from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico.

We know a little something about sustainably caught and farmed seafood, the jobs supported, and enjoyment experienced. Our science-based management process is delivering results benefiting both the environment and the economy. Of course, this wouldn’t be possible without the contributions and commitment of our partners and stakeholders who have helped make the U.S. a world leader in the successful stewardship of marine resources.

Seafood has become a powerful ambassador for global ocean stewardship—effectively connecting the wellbeing of human populations to the health and productivity of our ocean resources; and, more importantly, our collective responsibility for their stewardship.

Throughout National Seafood Month, NOAA Fisheries will feature stories and updates underscoring the successes and challenges of sustainable fisheries and the seafood they provide. We’ll also highlight the collaborative efforts of the commercial fishing, seafood and aquaculture industries, recreational and subsistence anglers, and conservation communities that will help us move forward and build on our successes.

So we invite you to explore seafood this month, knowing that you and NOAA Fisheries have helped make that enjoyment possible.

e_sobeck_leader_messageEileen Sobeck
Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries



Photo Journey: Fisheries Research Expedition
Black Sea Bass is Rebuilt
Have Your Hake and Eat It Too
Efforts to Support and Streamline Seafood Trade
Fine Cooking on the High Seas

The ABCs of Stock Assessments
Sustainable Seafood: A U.S. Success Story
Healthy Habitat: Key to Our Seafood and Fisheries
Get to Know Your Seafood from Ocean to Plate
U.S. Marine Aquaculture: A Promising Future
Getting Back to Local
The Great American Surfclam
Protecting Our Seafood and Marine Resources

Seafood Fraud—Detection and Prevention
Keeping an Eye on Pollock
Feeds of the Future

Oct 1 2014

Seafood and restaurant industries dodge a bullet as Gov. Brown vetoes California sfd labeling law

SEAFOODNEWS.COM by John Sackton – Oct 1, 2014 | Posted with permission of


California Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed Senate Bill 1138, the fish and shellfish labeling law, that would have created chaos for seafood consumers.

The bill was pushed through the legislature by Oceana, who claimed that it would help combat seafood fraud.  But the remedy – using the FDA common name for each species, rather than the standard market name is is now required, would have created chaos.

The bill would have required that seafood producers, seafood processors, retailers, and restaurants label their packaging and menus with the “common” name of the seafood item, as opposed to the market name developed by the Food and Drug Administration.

There are over 1850 common names for fish and shellfish sold in California.  The FDA allows most similar species to be grouped under the same market name, for example “shrimp.”

In discussing why this bill was so bad, Mary Smith at Santa Monica Seafood said “A waitress would need to inform a customer ordering shrimp whether the shrimp was “Kadal Shrimp” or “Marsh Grass Shrimp” or “Jinga Shrimp” or one 30 possible Common Names for specific shrimp species.

“A worker at a food truck accepting an order for a mahi fish taco would need to inform the customer “at the time the customer orders” that she will be served dolphinfish.”

“Hotel restaurant staff would need to know and immediately inform a guest that his “Rockfish” was actually “Splitnose Rockfish” or “Swordspine Rockfish” or “Bronzespotted Rockfish” to comply with this law.”

It would be literally impossible for waitstaff to know the more than 1,850 Common Names of the fish served daily at California restaurants … and the law states a restaurant shall provide the Common Name when the customer orders the fish.

Under the guise of protecting consumers, the real impact of this bill would be to reduce seafood consumption.

NFI strongly supported this veto and was pleased to be able to work with the California Fish & Seafood Institute to explain the legislation’s flaws to the Governor and his staff.  Though mislabeling and fraud are legitimate and serious issues, the California legislation would have done nothing to address them, and would have burdened NFI member companies with a complex and needless new mandate, while confusing consumers with additional labeling information of no value.

In his veto Message, the Governor took this advice.  He said “Much of what the bill seeks to accomplish is good. Requiring seafood producers and wholesalers to identify whether fish and shellfish are wild caught or farm raised, domestic or imported – these are reasonable and helpful facts for purchasers to know.”

“Requiring more precise, species-specific labeling of seafood. however, is not as easily achieved.”

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration publishes both market names and common names under which fish and shellfish may be sold. The bill’s requirement to use the FDA published common name in all fish and shellfish labels, unless the state promulgates a different common name, would create uncertainties and complexities that may not be easily resolved.”

The veto is a small success for the states restaurant and seafood industry.  But it is unfortunate that so much time has to be spent lobbying and reacting to those who keep seeking to limit seafood consumption, under the guise of ‘helping’ the American consumers fight fraud.


John Sackton, Editor And Publisher 1-781-861-1441

Copyright © 2014
Story Posted: 10/1/2014

Sep 7 2014

CHUCK DELLA SALA, JOE PENNISI, AND SHEMS JUD: Sustainability Certification Reflects Sea Change in West Coast Fisheries


September 4, 2014 — In essence, what the trawlers of the West Coast have done under this new system is renew the social contract that they have with the public, by providing assurance that they are harvesting a public resource in a sustainable manner.

The following op-ed was submitted to Saving Seafood by Chuck Della Sala, the Mayor of the City of Monterey, California; Joe Pennisi, the owner and skipper of the F/V Pioneer; and Shems Jud, of the Environmental Defense Fund’s Oceans Program:

Most California seafood lovers are familiar with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Consumer Guides – the booklets that recommend which fish to eat and which should be avoided.

Seafood Watch just dramatically increased its list of recommended seafood options from the West Coast. They now rank nearly all bottom trawl-caught groundfish as “good” and “best” alternatives. Those species include lingcod, chilipepper rockfish, Dover sole, and dozens more.

Readers accustomed to grim news about marine resources will find this news a pleasant surprise; but for those who closely follow commercial fisheries of the West Coast it may seem more like a miracle.

Fourteen years ago the West Coast groundfish fishery was declared a disaster by the federal government. Years of overharvesting and science and management failures had resulted in rapidly dwindling stocks as too many boats chased too few fish in a classic example of the “tragedy of the commons.” Eight species were declared overfished, and the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) and the National Marine Fisheries Services were scrambling – along with fishermen – to figure out some way to save a major American fishery, and one of great importance to Monterey and the region.

There’s nothing like disaster to bring unlikely partners together. In the years following the declaration it has been our privilege – fishermen, fishing communities, and conservationists, to sit together at the same table with the Council and the National Marine Fisheries Service to help develop an entirely new approach to managing one of the most complex multispecies fisheries on earth.

The quota-based management system that was eventually implemented in 2011 became known as the West Coast Groundfish Trawl Catch Share Program. It combined practical conservation incentives with a system of full accountability by putting federal observers on fishing vessels.   The program gives fishermen the flexibility to fish when the weather is right and to work with their markets to time landings to meet demand. Fishermen are also able to actively manage their portfolio of species, which has dramatically reduced both bycatch and discards.

Today, fishing businesses are slowly becoming more stable, and several of those overfished species are rebuilding at a surprisingly rapid rate.

In essence, what the trawlers of the West Coast have done under this new system is renew the social contract that they have with the public, by providing assurance that they are harvesting a public resource in a sustainable manner. The recent assessment from the Seafood Watch Program, and the June certification of thirteen species of West Coast groundfish as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council, verifies that.

This is an unfolding success story; West Coast fishermen still face stiff challenges. They have to pay for those observers and bear much of the cost of administering their catch share program. But the announcement by Seafood Watch signifies a remarkable course change in this fishery, a change that California seafood lovers – and that’s everybody reading this, right? – can be proud of.


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