Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sustainable Seafood After Hours

Wednesday November 12th was the second evening hosted by Wild Edibles to promote sustainable seafood. Sustainable After Hours is an opportunity for concerned New York Chefs to have questions answered by experts and producers of seafood.

The special guests for the night included Kate McLaughlin Seafood Program Director from the Blue Ocean Institute, Jim Michaels Program Manager Mote Sturgeon Research Project, and Karen Rivera Founding Member Noank Aquaculture Cooperative. All the guests made brief speeches followed by personal conversations with some of the cities best chefs. I personally cannot help but think the impact that these small gatherings will have on the choices we all make when procuring the fruits of our fragile oceans. For those of you who attended, thanks for coming and having the conversation. I encourage anyone in the industry to continue the conversation and to reach out to your suppliers, and friends.

Chef Paul Jambor of Wild Edibles Oyster Bar with the always tasty help of semi-retired Chef Michael Blackburn did an outstanding job on the food, presenting a delicious all sustainable seafood menu for the guests to enjoy. The smoked sturgeon was especially ethereal. Thanks Paul and Michael for all your well received efforts.

I look forward to seeing some new faces at the next Sustainable After Hours to be held late January. Thanks for all in helping make this a successful night

For additional information:

Monday, October 27, 2008


I know I should be writing about mercury in seafood, but frankly there has been plenty of press. I am concerned about mercury in seafood and elsewhere.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Seafood in an Economic Downturn

Despite the current economic situation I want to encourage everyone to keep eating sustainable seafood. We all need to reap the benefits of great seafood more than ever. The healthy benefits of seafood will pay for themselves in the long run; with increased brain function, decreased risk of coronary problems, just to name a couple. Seafood prices have remained stable and are apparently on a downward trend. Some relief has been granted to local fisheries as the price of fuel continues to decline. And I received the first freight reduction in years from one of our trucking companies. So now is a great time to vote with your wallet and continue to support sustainable seafood. Here is a list of some reasonably priced choices.

  1. Bluefish (wild caught local)
  2. Mussels (farmed, US and Canada)
  3. Clams (farmed or wild hand dug)
  4. Barramundi (farmed, US)
  5. Coldwater Shrimp (wild, US and Canada)

Friday, August 29, 2008

End of the Summer Fishmonger Reading List

I guess you would expect me to suggest you read the new book Bottomfeeder, but I won't burden you this beautiful summer weekend with something so serious. Instead pick up one of these, they are only remotely seafood related.

  • A Salty Piece of Land by Jimmy Buffet - Mix up a few margaritas and enjoy this lighthearted tale about a young man searching for bonefish and a second chance.
  • Atomic Lobster by Time Dorsey - The title has little to do with the book, but if you like classic pulp fiction with a slightly sick Floridian sense of humor this Tampa native will have you laughing out loud at the beach this weekend.
  • Hooked: Pirates, Poaching and the Perfect Fish by G. Bruce Knecht - Ok so one of my selections is about commercial fishing. I think that this is a great informational non-fiction work about "Chilean Sea Bass". I am only recommending this because it is written very well and reads like a mystery novel, besides some excerpts about the Antarctic could have a cooling effect as you soak up some rays.


Sustainable V.P. Candidate?

Sarah Palin

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hey Cats.......

Stop eatin' so much fish!

GOURMET meals dished up to pampered pets could be threatening world fish supplies, Victorian scientists have warned.

Calculations by Deakin University researchers show an estimated 2.48 million tonnes of forage fish are used each year by the global cat food industry.........Dr Turchini's paper, co-written with colleague Professor Sena De Silva, is published online by the Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics. link

I have to say this did not even dawn on me. But when you stop to think about it those cats are sure chowing down upon a great deal of the oceans bounty. And why should they benefit from all our labors, not like my dog who will eat just about anything. These high falutin' felines are starting to demand the finest select cuts of wild salmon and halibut. When was the last time you saw a cat actually catch a fish? Let them eat rat.

Friday, August 22, 2008

DNA in the City

Two young students using simple dna testing techniques are shining the light again on the growing problem of mislabeled seafood. Everyone in the seafood business should be outraged as consumers and I am at the deception of a few bad purveyors and retailers. Not only is it wrong to mislead the consumers, but this leads to a wider range of problems. These problems range from unfair trade to species depletion from bad catch reporting.

Read the article in the NY Times.

So I want to personally thank these two intrepid sleuths.

Here are a few ways to assure you are getting the fish you pay for (without DNA testing).

  1. Know your fishmonger.
  2. Buy whole fish, not fillet.
  3. If the price is to good to be true, it probably is.
A similar article also appears in the Canadian Globe and Mail.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Oh P.E.T.A. :Deja Vous

We have seen this kind of publicity stunt before. Back in June they proposed a lobster empathy center in Maine.

PETA would have us close all the zoos and aquariums. I think that a well run facility can not only provide useful education opportunities but also a positive message of sustainability.

Whale of an Offer: Buy SeaWorld, Free Animals

An animal-rights group says a supporter wants to buy one or more SeaWorlds from the theme parks' soon-to-be new owner so it can free all the animals, even killer whales. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals says an undisclosed donor wants to buy at least one SeaWorld park, then free the animals and replace them with virtual-reality or animatronic displays. Belgium-based InBev, one of the world's largest brewers, is to acquire the SeaWorld parks as part of its $52 billion acquisition of Anheuser-Busch Cos. Busch calls the offer "a publicity stunt." [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Is Sustainable Seafood Catching on?

Zagat says yes.

Consumers have had information at their disposal for a few years now about the fish they purchase in retail stores. This was helped along by some legislation C.O.O.L (country of origin labeling) that took effect in 2004. This law only applies to retail stores and excludes prepared fish. So basically every restaurant is exempt from any reporting. One still must be careful and dine at trusted restaurants, because some misleading information is out there like the Florida grouper debacle that had numerous species filling in for the states favorite fish in a bun.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis)

Striped bass (Morone saxatilis), also known as rockfish to some are one of the east coasts most valuable species. They are both a commercial fish and are regarded by sports fisherman as a desirable species. Sometimes these two agendas are at odds. This occurred last year when President George Bush signed an executive order against the sale of wild striped bass caught in Federal waters, and urging States to do the same. Striped bass was once over fished but over the past ten years most states have implemented strict guidelines for the commercial sales of this fish as well as fair catch limits for the recreational fisherman. However this fragmented regulation from state top state has made enforcement difficult. Below is a list of some Northeast state regulations.
  • Rhode Island
    • trap: 26" min
    • general category: 34" min
  • New York
    • 24" - 36"
  • Delaware
    • 28" min
    • 20" special spring season 3/1-3/30
  • Maryland
    • Bays and Rivers: 18"-36"
    • Ocean: 24"
  • PRFC ( Potomac River Fisheries Commission )
    • 18" min all year
    • 36" max 1/1 to 3/25
  • Virginia
    • Bays and Rivers: 18" min all year
    • 28" max 3/26-6/15
    • Ocean: 28" min
  • North Carolina
    • Albemarle Sound: 18" min
    • Ocean: 28" min
  • Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, District of Columbia
    • No Commercial Fishery

Where Has All the Tuna Gone?

If I haven't been looking for tuna these past weeks I have been fielding questions from my customers about the scarcity of said tuna.

The perfect storm? While it seems that no single event has caused this supply problem a few combined may have made this inevitable. Mostly the evidence I present is purely anecdotal, so your comments are welcome.

  • Fuel prices: The rise in the dock prices of diesel have forced a hard decision upon some of the tuna boats. Faced with the possibility of filling up the tanks and returning to port with less than a full hold of fish many fishermen choose to stay in port longer and cut their losses.
  • Moon cycle; The current position of the moon and the effect it has on pelagic fish, as well as the bait fish it feeds upon makes finding large amounts of Tuna difficult.
  • Last month many Asian countries announced what amounts to a nearly 40% reduction in the size of their fleets. They did not however make plans to reduce consumption.
  • China comes on strong: Could the increase in disposable income and China's new interest in Japanese style sushi be re directing the tuna catch. And what about the Olympics?
  • And perhaps the most sobering possibility: we have fished it out.....
So if Tuna is on your menu, you may want to consider something else like mackerel, mahi, sword, or amberjack depending upon your application.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My July News

July was a really hectic month for the fishmonger. I am sure those of you that are kind enough to make regular visits to these pages can well see from the lack of posts this month. My schedule was flipped into night dweller mode as I covered for one of my co-workers during his much needed vacation. The experience of going to the New Fulton Market every night was very enjoyable despite the hours. A big thank you to all my support staff, and vendors.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Commercial Fishing Troubles, Links

  • Yesterday National Public Radio aired a story highlighting the fuel cost problems that Northeast commercial fishermen are trying to cope with.
  • Asian Tuna Boats are suspending activities for "a few" months in response to high fuel costs. This follows the same action by squid fishermen in Japan.
  • This follows last months strikes in Europe, primarily by French and Spanish Boats.
  • This article from Namibia, foretells of the possible crash of smaller fishing economies.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Now Do I Have To Reconsider Sockeye?

A recent article in the Canadian Paper Globe and Mail highlights the plight of B.C. sockeye.

Trout Unlimited, an Oregon sport fishing and conservancy group has partnered with a supermarket chain to focus on the issue of Bristol Bay and a planned mining operation that could starve the areas rivers of water, and be devastating to salmon stocks.

Marine Harvest doing something to protect wild salmon migratory routes.

Wild Pacific salmon used to be easy, but now with news about bycatch in the pollack fisheries and these new stories we must take a new look.

Just to keep you updated I will be taking home some Pacific chum salmon (aka: keta, dog, silverbright) Oncorhynchus keta.
I will be cooking the fish a few ways, and will post the results.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Trucking Crunch, Seaboard Express Closes the Doors

Late yesterday afternoon I was told by one of my vendors of the pending demise of Seaboard Express, Inc. In business since 1977, the news of this is more problematic than surprising, as it was confirmed by six other reputable seafood purveyors in Boston and New England and from employees within the company. Seaboard Express of New Bedford was one of the larger carriers of fresh and frozen seafood that shipped product up and down the Northeast corridor. We have been hearing for some time how the rising costs of diesel, and less than full loads has increased trucker's costs substantially. So that leaves only a handful of existing carriers to fill the void. This is most likely to lead to increased shipping costs, that will in the short term be absorbed by intermediate parties. But the net result is less competition, and rising costs that will eventually be passed onto the end users. It is always hard to see a company close, so I wish the former employees and principals all the best.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sustainable Shrimp Cocktail

Sustainable Seafood guides recommend using U.S. wild caught shrimp. One type of shrimp that rates high is the diminutive Maine shrimp, pandalus borealis it is also sold as Canadian pink shrimp. It is commonly sold cooked and frozen and could go by the name ti-ti shrimp as well. Many of us had this shrimp in the form of those SauSea jarred shrimp cocktails. You know the ones that were mostly sauce, and came in a container that found a future as an orange juice glass for use at the breakfast table. In some ways that childhood treat is the inspiration for this easy recipe. Though pandalus borealis is not in season right now I had put up some frozen cleaned Maine shrimp meat for just such an occasion. You can purchase the already cooked frozen variety and achieve the same results.

Cocktail de Camarones
[makes 3-5 servings]

  • 2 lbs of Cooked Maine Shrimp, pandalus borealis
  • 3 ribs of Celery {1/4 inch dice}
  • 1 medium size Red Onion {1/4 inch dice}
  • 3/4 cup Ketchup {I am hooked on Whole Foods Organic}
  • Juice of 1 fresh lime
  • 1 Jalapeno {1/4 inch dice}
  • 1/4 cup Cilantro {finely chopped, use the stems too!}
  • Salt {your taste}
  • Hot Sauce {optional}
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, serve a nice container over crisp lettuce and garnish with lime wedges and sprigs of cilantro. Serve with an ice cold Pilsner style beer, and enjoy the summer weather.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sea Stories

The Blue Ocean Institute has an interesting site devoted to better writers than I. They call this collection Sea Stories. It is an interesting mix of poetry and short stories from contributors of all sorts. The next issue could even contain writings by you; should you want to contribute they have a submission tool.

Monday, June 23, 2008


One of the MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) great success story has been the certification of the Alaskan Pollack fishery. Some 100 plus boats (factory type ships) harvest huge amounts of pollack under the watchful eyes of The MSC and the Alaska division of NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency). One problem is the huge amount of salmon bycatch that is inadvertently caught with the pollack. Strict guidelines currently have these boats discarding tons of fish. Surely there has to be some better way to handle all this bycatch. Below is today's AP article. Please cast your vote in the sidebar about bycatch.

Associated Press/AP Online
June 23, 2008 - ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Florence Johnson can rattle off myriad ways to prepare salmon. Drawing on a lifetime of fishing the Yukon River, she recommends canning, salting, or drying the fillets in her smokehouse near the heart of downtown Eagle.

"I'd be very lost without it," Johnson said. "I can eat salmon for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks."

That the fish reach Eagle at all is a minor miracle. The dirt-road town is 1,400 river miles from the Yukon's mouth and for a variety of reasons, many salmon never make it back to the waters of their birth.

Increasingly, they have been scooped up by the massive Bering Sea pollock fleet, a global source of frozen fish sticks, fillets and imitation crab, and the largest fishery by volume in the U.S.

The trend is deeply troubling for people living along the great rivers of western Alaska, including the Yukon. Salmon are a staple food and in some cases a primary source of cash for dozens of villages from the mouth of the 2,000-mile river to its headwaters in Canada. Wild Alaska kings also make up a small, but highly valuable segment of the worldwide fish market.

In recent years, the fleet of about 100 pollock trawlers have intercepted record numbers of salmon bound for rivers in Canada, the Pacific Northwest, Asia and Alaska. Federal laws prevent them from fishing for anything but pollock, so fishermen must throw the mostly dead and dying salmon back into the sea.

King salmon bycatch - fishing jargon for the unintentional capture of a species - in the Bering Sea pollock fishery rose last year to a record 122,000, up from a previous 5-year average of 57,333. The bycatch count for other salmon species hit a record 706,000 in 2005, according to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

The salmon problem has gotten so bad that the management council, a federal body that regulates the region's fisheries, expressed tentative support this month for an unprecedented proposal to temporarily close the Bering Sea pollock fishery should king salmon bycatch exceed a certain number.

"We are working to balance the ability of the pollock fleet to optimize their catch while minimizing salmon bycatch," said Diana Stram, a fishery management plan coordinator for the council.

Given the variety of market factors, there are no estimates on how fish prices could change if the restrictions go into place. There are also still several options for where to put the limit, which hasn't been decided upon.

Salmon fishermen in Eagle and elsewhere generally support the proposal, lamenting the loss of thousands of salmon each year.

"Not being so close to the sea, we're not right there watching it, but we all feel the effects," said Barry Westphal, a fisherman, Christian minister and the environmental coordinator for the Native Village of Eagle. "It seems like a terrible waste of a precious resource."

The corporations that dominate Alaska's billion-dollar pollock industry generally believe a limit on salmon bycatch would put a damper on pollock numbers and increase the cost of fuel by forcing boats to relocate more frequently, according to Stephanie Madsen, a former council chair who is now executive director of a pollock trade group, the At-Sea Processors Association.

If adopted, the limit on salmon bycatch would likely take effect in 2011 and, in some scenarios, could cost the pollock fleet more than $500 million annually, according to federal estimates.

The industry has spent over half a million dollars in the last five years to develop nets that allow salmon to escape while keeping pollock in, said John Gruver, interco-op manager at United Catcher Boats, based in Seattle. He said the latest version, which he is still refining, allows one in five salmon to swim free. Earlier models let more salmon escape, but broke easily.

"We hope people understand that we're not just out there hammering away and that we are aware of the bycatch situation," Madsen said. "We've been struggling with it for years."

But a tiny segment of the pollock fleet is pushing for the cap on bycatch. Members of a federal program set up to aid impoverished western Alaska villages rely almost exclusively on pollock for income. Some believe their mission to protect the salmon-dependent village economies comes first.

"We recognize that pollock is where we get our royalty money from," said Ragnar Alstrom, executive director of the Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Association. "But both the subsistence and commercial salmon fisheries inriver are more important to us than the pollock."

Pollock boats are just one of many obstacles that can lead to a salmon's demise. Spawning returns hinge on several factors, including ocean temperatures, availability of food, predator numbers and disease.

For example, scientists blame the devastation of the Yukon salmon fishery in 2000 not on pollock boats, but on anomalous algal blooms in the Bering Sea. A five-year study by University of Washington professor emeritus Richard Kocan has shown a possible link between warming temperatures in the Yukon River and the emergence of a new disease in a variety of salmon species.

"There are many reasons the salmon don't come back to spawn," said Frank Quinn, area director with the government agency Fisheries and Oceans Canada. "But we need to do something. Bycatch is one thing we can have an impact on."

Canada had to close the Yukon River to nearly all king salmon fishing last year because so few fish came across the border from Alaska, said Quinn, who is based in Whitehorse, Yukon. Based on early estimates, the fisheries department may impose the same restrictions this season.

Elsewhere, scientists and government officials are expecting this year's West Coast salmon season to be one of the worst in history, owing to the collapse of one of the region's largest wild salmon runs. Possible causes range from ocean conditions and habitat destruction to dam operations and agricultural pollution.

West Coast lawmakers are protesting a Bush administration plan to chop a $170 million disaster relief plan for the Pacific salmon fishing industry to $100 million. The money is part of the recently passed federal farm bill.

Johnson, 69, has a field-tested backup plan for the years when the salmon don't come.

"I'll go out and get caribou or moose instead when the runs are bad," she said. "But you know when I'm out hunting, that's my breakfast - salmon strips and Ritz crackers. So, I don't know what I'd do without my salmon."


On the Net:

North Pacific Fisheries Management Council:

At-Sea Processors Association:

United Catcher Boats:

Community Development Quota:

Friday, June 20, 2008

Fishmonger's Recommended Reading

I guess you would expect me to suggest you read the new book Bottomfeeder, but I won't burden you this beautiful summer weekend with something so serious. Instead pick up one of these, they are only remotely seafood related.

  • A Salty Piece of Land by Jimmy Buffet - Mix up a few margaritas and enjoy this lighthearted tale about a young man searching for bonefish and a second chance.
  • Atomic Lobster by Time Dorsey - The title has little to do with the book, but if you like classic pulp fiction with a slightly sick Floridian sense of humor this Tampa native will have you laughing out loud at the beach this weekend.
  • Hooked: Pirates, Poaching and the Perfect Fish by G. Bruce Knecht - Ok so one of my selections is about commercial fishing. I think that this is a great informational non-fiction work about "Chilean Sea Bass". I am only recommending this because it is written very well and reads like a mystery novel, besides some excerpts about the Antarctic could have a cooling effect as you soak up some rays.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Grouper Switch Follow Up

Red Grouper(Epinephelus morio)

This morning I received an interesting offer sheet from one of my suppliers. The offer was to purchase a new item they will be carrying. The item a fish called emperer (lethrinus lentjan), sold as a frozen CO2 treated fillet. This is one of the many fish that made it's way to the tables of restaurants under the guise of grouper. I applaud the efforts to legitimize grouper sales.

Last October following reports in the Saint Petersburg Times and a full blown investigation by the Florida Department Of Agriculture I wrote:

If you live in Florida, or have vacationed there you would know that the Grouper Sandwich is the default State meal. From Gainesville to Key West you would have a hard time not finding the ubiquitous selection on the menu of most restaurants. Fried, blackened or grilled millions have been served to locals and unsuspecting tourists alike. The big dirty secret is finally out in the open. The chances that the sandwich you or anyone else ate was local grouper -- slim to none. It turns out that most of these establishments were buying frozen "grouper", and that some was an imported species of grouper. At least that is what they thought they were getting. It was more likely that the frozen fish was either a box of mixed species, with some Asian grouper included, or it could have easily been basa, panga, or some other mild white flesh fish, even..gulp tilapia. So who is to blame? The Restaurant for trying to sell cheap Asian grouper? The supplier for not verifying species? The consumer for being cheap? And those are just questions to ask if you want to assume no malevolence. The truth might be even worse, with allegations of fraud and conspiracy. The problem is that real gulf grouper is scarce and expensive. Some of the good guy restaurants are trying to serve Real Florida Grouper, but the menu cost needs to be substantially higher than their competition. For more information see USA Today.

So just 8 months later we finally see the results of these efforts. I applaud Crocker and Winsor for the honesty shown in writing. "Will my customers like it? Chance(sp) are they already do but don't know it. For years emperor an grouper would be mixed in the same box. However in recent years some Southern states in order to support the local fishery-began DNA testing......the result emperor can not be sold as grouper as it was in the past.

I fully support the proper labeling of seafood for a number of reasons.
  1. As a supplier it is frustrating to see customers buying impostor fish at ridiculously low prices from your competition.
  2. As a consumer and buyer I do not like being deceived.
  3. Mislabeling contributes to diminished accuracy in evaluating seafood harvests. And hurts efforts to make fisheries sustainable.
So now we have this new attractively priced emperer fillet available, the same fillet that was masquerading as grouper at a higher price. I for on will not be buying this fish until I know more. But if you find yourself at a restaurant you might still want to ask where the grouper is from. You can look at the Fresh from Florida website for some really great grouper substitution information.

Emperer (lethrinus lentjan)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Rising Fuel Cost Saves the Ocean, Maybe Not

In the past month the rising costs of fuel, diesel in particular have caused an uproar from coast to coast and from sea to sea. Strikes in France, Spain, and Portugal. Work stoppages in Japan. Limited days at sea for struggling American boats, and the list goes on. So how is this good? It is not. But maybe it could be good for those threatened species you say. You know less fisherman out there catching fish from day to day, that has to take some pressure off of the reserves right? This line of thinking only highlights the problem with the perception of fishing today. Unlike what most consumers might think about the fishing industry; small boats and small crews hand lining fish, most fish is taken by larger vessels with high tech gear, and high yield fishing techniques. High fuel prices really only affect the small guys. So when fuel costs rise some of these old school artisanal fishermen are the ones most hurt. So despite what may seem like a panacea for ocean conservation, could actually force some shift to higher yield and more destructive type of fishing. So I put this challenge to inventors, free thinkers, geniuses, conservationists, and venture capitalists: come up with a way to increase the efficiency of small fishing vessels while promoting seafood sustainability.
This is an average sized small vessel
This is a larger factory ship

Calif. Delivers Final Truckload of Juvenile Salmon to San Francisco Bay

The Sacramento Bee
June 18, 2008 - State officials on Tuesday trucked their final load of juvenile salmon from hatcheries to San Francisco Bay, marking the end of an unprecedented effort to help a dwindling species.

In total, the Department of Fish and Game hauled 20.2 million fall-run chinook salmon smolts from three hatcheries on the American, Feather and Mokelumne rivers. The fish were deposited into net pens on shore, then towed by barge out into San Pablo Bay for release.

The state has trucked salmon for years, but never on this scale, said spokesman Harry Morse, nor has anyone else.

"I called both Washington and Oregon and asked them if anybody had transported a number this massive, and both those agencies said no," Morse said.

Fish and Game decided to truck nearly all its hatchery chinook this year to ensure more fish survive to spawn again.

Trucking saves the fish from exposure to predators and poor water quality in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. But a debate continues on whether this disrupts the fishes' ability to find their way back to their home rivers.

The Central Valley fall chinook this year is predicted to reach its lowest level in more than three decades, and salmon fishing has been closed as a result.


To see more of The Sacramento Bee, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to

Copyright (c) 2008, The Sacramento Bee, Calif.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Greenpeace List

Today Greenpeace released a report grading major U.S. supermarkets on sustainability. Most did not do well. The highest rated of the group Whole Foods received only four out of a possible 10.

I was reminded about the presence of this report by an e-mail from Greenpeace despite the fact that I had not been a strong supporter of the group in the past.

Hi Matthew!

Over at Greenpeace I've been looking over tons of blogs on ocean conservation and seafood, ect., and yours has caught my eye. I thought you might be interested in our new report?

From overfishing to bottom trawling to overcrowded fish farms, the seafood industry threatens our marine ecosystems to the point of collapse. Sustainable fishing is a key to maintaining healthy oceans which in turn help stabilize the planetary environment and the climate at large. Greenpeace has just released a unique report detailing the seafood purchasing practices of major American supermarkets, markets who make billions of dollars a year off seafood sales. Ranking the practices of the top 20 markets, the report represents a new approach to tackling the fisheries crisis, holding supermarkets accountable for their role in supporting unsustainable fisheries and aquaculture operations. Pressuring the markets we buy from will push the entire seafood industry into adopting a long-term plan for sustainable fishing.

I hope you find this interesting... thanks for all that you do and keep up the good work!

Greenpeace USA

Thank you Camilla,

I was actually in the process of putting the finishing touches on a post that features a scheme to seed the ocean with iron. A proposal by a past Greenpeace leader, and not supported by the current administration.

We all need to wake up and smell the coffee when it comes to seafood sustainability, and I need to brew another pot while I read the seventy five page report. If you would care to read it you can do so on the Greenpeace site.

I am not sure that the report addresses the possibility that some of these retailers are buying these "red list" species from sustainable sources. Greenpeace flat out says they will not support or endorse any of the non government agencies that have guidelines. While they do not always agree many have come together recently to address these issues, maybe Greenpeace should try to get a seat at that table.

The Great Salmon Debate

This morning I received a request from a reader to write about some talking points that the Atlantic salmon farmers have produced.

Having been on the front lines with consumers in a retail seafood environment I have tried to educate myself on the pros and cons of Salmon farming. New York has perhaps some of the best educated seafood consumers due to the presence of those diligent writers, and op-ed columnists at the New York Times. Don't get me wrong, I think that the Times is a great paper. What happens is the same people that come in and asked me for four six ounce center cut Chilean Sea Bass portions (hey people, fish have tails!) after reading a recipe in the Times Wednesday's Dining Out Section are confused about PCB scares and the like involving farmed salmon.

One problem with the farmed salmon debate is the fact that land based proteins have many of the same issues with contamination. The difference here I think is that The beef, poultry, and swine industries have much better lobby groups. Do you think that the runoff and waste generated by farmed cattle is less detrimental than aquaculture? Algae blooms originating downstream from these operations are increasingly harming the ocean environment.

I need to be clear here. Salmon farming could be better. New feeds that are based on proteins
other than wild fish are one part of the solution. Establishing a multiculture system around current salmon farms are another. I spoke with Tim O'Shea, founder of Cleanfish a few months ago and he told me how Loch Duart was introducing sea urchins to the sea bed to feed upon wastes generated above. They might even market the urchins in the future. I think this is a great idea, and certainly less destructive than some current wild catch methods that destroy the bottom habitat in the process of fishing.

Unless we are to all become vegetarians, the perils of meat and seafood consumption will continue continue to challenge consumers and suppliers. Like so many issues today extremists on both sides of the debate make the moderates voice hard to hear. Look, aquaculture is here to stay. As a consumer and a member of the seafood industry I feel it is important to support suppliers in a way that improves sustainability.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Iron Seeding the Oceans

Have you heard this one? In an effort to offset carbon

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

"Bottomfeeder" Preview

I have been reading an interesting book by Taras Grescoe who is the author of “Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood.” For those of you who have read "The Omnivores Dilemma" by Micheal Pollan, and liked it, than this is a book I think you will enjoy. Grescoe's style is very readable and full of useful information. Whether you are an avid proponent of sustainable seafood, or a fan of the McDonalds Fillet O' Fish you will benefit from this good read. I was going to actually wait until I finished the entire book before I blogged about it here, but Grescoe wrote an op-ed piece in Monday's New York Times. The piece suggested that maybe we should just take a pass on salmon altogether, wild or farmed. Personally I will continue to limit my farmed salmon to fish from farms like Loch Duart, and my wild salmon to Alaskan fisheries. Like Grescoe I will not be having any Copper River fish this year as the cost is prohibitive, even at wholesale prices. I will be looking forward to the more plentiful coho runs, and this year I might even try to come up with a flavorful recipe for chum salmon. I wonder if I call it silverbright, will it taste better?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Menhaden Update

One of my ongoing rants involves the menhaden fishery. This is by many accounts the largest fishery in the United States. It is in my opinion one of the most important in terms of environmental impact. Here is the wholesale removal of the most important food source for almost every kind of other fish up and down the east coast. In some online research I found that some of the most well opinionated and active people fighting to protect this fish are recreational stripe bass fishermen. Please visit the following sites to learn more, and to sign the petition.

Attention Dave Barry - Lobster Jail?

June 4, 2008 - Animal-rights activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has submitted a bid to lease a vacant, rural Maine jail to establish the world's first Lobster Empathy Center.

"A prison is the perfect setting to demonstrate how lobsters suffer when they are caught in traps or confined to cramped, filthy supermarket tanks," PETA wrote in a June 2 letter to Somerset County commissioners. The county is constructing a new prison and has put the century-old facility in Skowhegan up for sale. read more

PETA, what is next a condo rented out for the sole use of cockroaches?

East Coast States Debate New Rules


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Teaser Post

Attention New York Chefs:

  • Be the first to menu giant domestic crayfish 7-10 inches each. Contact the fishmonger to get in on the action. First responders will be eligible to receive sample next week.
(this is a small one, stock photo)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

World Ocean Day

The Earth day for the seas is June 8th. Check out The Ocean Project for more information and be sure to sign the petition.

Shellfish Handling

It is the time of year now when increased outdoor temperatures, and the natural inclination to spawn are upon us. To help prevent unwanted mortality follow these helpful guidelines.

  1. Keep shellfish refrigerated and buried in ice in a container that allows drainage.
  2. Proper refrigeration is important, but even more so during this time. Even moderate temperature abuse, or rough handling could cause your shellfish to spawn.
  3. Gaping shellfish can be run under cold water to get them to close, if they still do not close they are dead or dying and should be discarded.
  4. To prevent gaping , keep shellfish in a tightly closed mesh bag.
  5. Spawned product should be rinsed in fresh cold water and put into a clean container.
Monitor these critical areas.

  • Loading docks, limit time and temperature abuse.
  • Ship product in refrigerated trucks only.
  • Hot kitchens can kill shellfish in no time, keep product iced and refrigerated at all times.

Take extra care in all these areas and your shellfish will take care of you. Thank you to my friends at American Mussel for all the information, and inspiration.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Cooking Fish is Easy

Why are you so afraid of seafood; it really could not be more simple. Just follow the CANADIAN RULE.

How to cook fish:
  • Here is a really simple and easy rule to follow and your fish will be cooked to perfection every time.
  • This will work for any method of cooking.
  • Use this rule for all species of fin fish.
  • The only requirement is that the heat source is as very hot. Now the secret; for each inch of thickness cook the fish 1o minutes.

  • That's it, now go cook some fish.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Fire destroys landmark lobster business in Boston

BOSTON (AP) — Fire destroyed a landmark wholesale and retail seafood business on the waterfront early Friday, but there were no reports of injuries.

It was not known why the fire broke out around 3:30 a.m. at James Hook & Co., which extends on pilings over the harbor. Several hours later, firefighters were still working to contain the blaze, which continued to burn, particularly in rooms full of corrugated cardboard boxes used for shipping seafood, Fire Department spokesman Steve MacDonald.

They had to battle the blaze from outside the building after being ordered out amid fear it would collapse. A dive team was sent into the water as a precautionary measure in case a firefighter fell into the harbor, Fire Chief Kevin MacCurtain said.

James Hook & Co. has been in business since 1925, when the Hook brothers started trucking their catch of lobsters from Maine and Canada to Boston's fish piers and selling them directly to the city's top restaurants. The business now ships 50,000 pounds of lobsters a day, according to its Web site.

One of the owners, Ed Hook, told WHDH-TV he saw smoke on his way into the city at 4:30 a.m. and knew there was trouble.

"It's hard for me to even look at the building," said Hook, adding that the business is run by third and fourth generations of his family. "I just can't believe the condition it's in. It's devastating."

No one was in the building when the fire broke out.

"Everyone's just in shock," he said. "That's our future, that's our present and that's our past."

The building sits in the heart of Boston's waterfront, close to the luxury Boston Harbor and Intercontinental hotels and a U.S. Coast Guard facility. It is across the street from Fire Department headquarters and the city's Financial District.

The blaze tangled traffic in the heavily traveled area. A portion of Atlantic Avenue, the main thoroughfare along the waterfront, was shut down and the Interstate 93 exit to Purchase Street was closed.

Meanwhile, divers were in the harbor to check the integrity of the pilings below the building to ensure the pier was safe. They also had hoses in the water to keep fire from threatening a nearby wooden pedestrian bridge, MacDonald said.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Top Farmed Seafood Choices

The growing demand for seafood cannot be met by wild caught fish. Aquaculture is the solution to the problem of increased seafood demand. We do want to ask all the right questions in determining if the fish (or clam, or shrimp) is sustainable. Sustainable? What exactly is that? Lets define sustainable as being able to maintain (or better yet increase) the wild population of a given species. Doing no harm to other organisms while procuring the target species. Producing no negative environmental impact. So what exactly are good choices here? This is going to require you ask your local fishmonger when you buy, but here are some good choices.

  1. Oysters; Most farmed oysters are not only sustainable, but actually beneficial to the local water quality due to the large amount of filtration power they supply.
  2. Catfish; Being omnivorous catfish do not require much wild caught fish meal in their feed, and effluents are limited or treated to avoid harm to the environment.
  3. Algae; Lets hope it doesn't come to this, although as a food source for fish it is a great idea.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Strikes in Europe Over Fuel Prices

Following the actions of some fishermen in France; Spanish fishermen and some truckers are protesting rising fuel prices. These are surely difficult times for anyone who's income is affected by the cost of oil. What is most disturbing is the possibility of special price fixing for individual groups regardless of market pricing. Lets hope that this doesn't make our shore. Some of these fishermen also engaged in illegal activities including road blocks, destruction of seafood shops, and ransacking of wholesale facilities. My advice to these guys give the fish a break for a while, lower your landings, get the right price for the fish you catch, and let the markets adjust. Be careful what you wish for fishermen; your efforts could lead you in the wrong direction, and your livelihood may be overtaken by people with their own dark agenda.

Tuna Troubles

The last two weeks lack of tuna supply were like nothing we have seen in recent times. The compounded effects of the monthly lunar schedule, and the fisherman's efforts to squeeze the most out of a gallon of diesel led to something like a "perfect storm". I will be speaking this week to everyone I know in the tuna trade, and maybe we can come up with some predictions for next month. I doubt that the announcement last week by some Pacific Island nations to ban tuna fishing in their waters added to the low supply, but it makes an interesting side story.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Fellow Fishmonger

This morning I checked my inbox and was pleased to receive an e-mail from a fellow fishmonger and blogger, Don't Fear Fish. Although I often get feedback from Friends and business associates it is good to get a fresh response. My west coast doppelganger is doing a great job providing information to his customers and to the public. Please stop by check out his site and leave a comment.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Menhaden, and the Continuing Battle for the Food Chain

As someone who makes a living trading in seafood for human consumption I have the opinion that the wholesale taking of a valuable natural resource by only a hand full of people is not good. Apparently there are even a few elected officials that are of the same opinion. I think that the effects of the Menhaden fishery is similar to the corn for ethanol scheme. By removing these fish from the food chain it no doubt effects the fish that rely on them for food. The other added benefit of that menhaden, and fish like them offer is the improvement of water quality as they filter feed upon algae, and detritus. Now that "Friend of the Sea" has sold them the sustainability label the fight to protect them might be harder.

Below are two recent articles for your consideration:

Taken from Asbury Park Press 5/16/2008

Bunker Bills Will Protect This Valuable Resource

Two Republican congressmen are pushing legislation that would provide further protection to menhaden stocks that are so vital to the Atlantic ecosystem.
Rep. Jim Saxton, R-NJ., introduced a bill, H.R. 3840, that would impose a partial moratorium on commercial menhaden fishing while more research is conducted on the health of the fish population.
Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, R-Md., went further with a bill that would impose an immediate five-year moratorium on menhaden fishing.
Both bills were reviewed by the House Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans Subcommittee May 8. Saxton is a senior member of the subcommittee.
"Atlantic menhaden are a key piece of the Atlantic ecosystem from Florida to Maine," Saxton said at the hearing. "They serve as a vital link in the food chain and are a primary source of food for striped bass, bluefish and weakfish, and are favored by seabirds like loons and ospreys."
Saxton wants the moratorium on the commercial reduction fishery for menhaden until a scientifically-determined catch level can be established that also considers the role of menhaden in the ecosystem.
The bill would prohibit commercial menhaden fishing in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone that extends from three miles to 200 miles into the Atlantic Ocean.
Saxton said the "reduction fishery" menhaden are not used as human seafood, but are reduced for industrial purposes, agricultural fertilizer or feed for poultry and aquacultural processes as well as in nutritional supplements.
Dr. Bruce Franklin of Rutgers University, author of the book on menhaden titled "The Most Important Fish in the Sea," supported both congressmen's bills.
Franklin emphasized that menhaden filter algae from ocean water at a rate of up to four gallons per minute. They feed on rotting sea vegetation and plankton, and have a positive effect on water quality as well as serving as a source of forage for fish, marine mammals and birds.
"Menhaden are a primary food source of game fish that are crucial to Jersey Shore tourism," Saxton said. "I'm not saying anything fishermen don't know already. What's good for menhaden is good for stripers, blues and mackerel.
"Menhaden are a poster-fish for why we need to consider the ecosystem in the way we manage our fisheries," he said at the hearing. "More research and studies are needed to determine the health of menhaden populations and what level is a truly sustainable catch.
"But the danger signs clearly point to the need for protection measures now for what is often called "the most important fish in the sea,' " he concluded.

Omega Protein qualifies for Friend of the Sea Certification

Independent audit and official scientific data confirm US menhaden fishery sustainable

© - Pubblicata il 21/05/2008

Houston, Texas – After an extensive process of auditing the United States Menhaden industry for sustainability and fishing practices, Friends of the Sea has certified the industry as a «Friend of the Sea».

Friends of the Sea, which is an independent organization known for its thorough certification procedure, used the following guidelines to certify applicants for sustainability: (a) target stocks cannot be considered overexploited; (b) the applicant’s fishing methods cannot impact the seabed, and (c) generation of less than average (8%) discards. Omega Protein has met this criterion.

«The menhaden fishery, the second biggest fishery in the United States, has been found compliant with Friend of the Sea standards by an independent audit,» comments Dr Paolo Bray – Director of Friend of the Sea. «This is a great result for Friend of the Sea, which would have not been possible without Omega Protein’s strong environmental commitment. Omega Protein is also a large international fishmeal producer – others are going to be audited in the next few months and a first Friend of the Sea sustainable fishmeal will soon be on the market. We expect the collaboration of fishmeal producers: the aquaculture market is ready and already demanding certified sustainable fishmeal.»

Omega Protein is the world's largest manufacturer of heart-healthy fish oils containing Omega-3 fatty acids for human consumption, as well as specialty fish meals and fish oil used as value-added ingredients in aquaculture, swine and other livestock feeds. Omega Protein makes its products from Atlantic menhaden (Brevoortia tyrannus), Gulf menhaden (Brevoortia patronus), an Omega-3 rich fish that is abundantly available along the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Coasts.

«We believe Friend of the Sea’s approval further emphasizes Omega Protein’s marine conservation and environmental protection efforts. Our well managed fishery has gone on for centuries and this is further evidence that it is sustainable.» states Joseph L. von Rosenberg III, President and CEO of Omega Protein. «We want consumers to know Omega Protein is a Friend of the Sea

The database of gulf menhaden is among the best in the United States. Accurate landings data exist back to 1946 because of full disclosure from the industry. Menhaden is fished by a relatively small number of vessels operated by few companies, making the data also very precise. The 2006 NOAA/NMFS/SFSC/ASMFC Official Stock Assessments Reports for Atlantic Gulf Menhaden convened that the stocks are not considered to be overfished. FAO, in its 2005 «Review of world State of Marine Fisheries Resources» considers Atlantic menhaden as not overexploited.

The United States Menhaden fishery is considered to have zero percent discard rate according to FAO «Discards in World Marine Fisheries. An Update». Bycatch of other fishes in menhaden purse seines has been examined repeatedly since late 1800s. Taking of non-target species is a relatively rare event, and the overall bycatch is insignificant.

The Company utilizes a fleet of purse seine fishing vessels supported by spotter aircraft to supply menhaden to its four processing facilities in Louisiana, Mississippi and Virginia. It provides more than 1,000 jobs in the states where it operates. All Omega vessels use an excluder nozzle to exclude larger predator species. Then an additional excluder screen is used to exclude the larger species and return them to the water via excluder chutes.

I have included both of the articles in an effort to be fair. Your comments are welcome. It certainly does not require an advanced degree in ocean biology to envision the effects of taking too many of these vital fish out of the natural food chain.

Copper River Trading Like Oil

A couple weeks ago I wrote that Copper River salmon would be in New York this week. I was wrong about that, but pricing predictions were more accurate. All seafood prices have been trending up, but with catches roughly one fifth the quota these fish demanded record prices. Prices in the pacific northwest, not including freight costs to the east coast were $15.00 to $17.00 wholesale for Sockeyes, and over $19.00 for Kings. With these kind of prices it had me looking for last seasons frozen production. Unfortunately most of the quality fish has been taken, and what little frozen wild salmon remains is dull, soft and tired fish. I have had some really nice frozen wild salmon to get me through the winters, but the probabilities are diminishing that we will see fresh demand at levels low enough to freeze and store this hot commodity.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

South Pacific Nations Adopt Tuna Moratorium

SeaFood Business

May 21, 2008 - Eight South Pacific island nations on Tuesday agreed to block bigeye and yellowfin tuna fishing in the region's international waters.

At the Fourth Forum Fisheries Ministerial Meeting in the Republic of Palau, eight nations - the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu - agreed to prohibit licensed tuna vessels from fishing in two areas marked for protection beginning June 15. Environmental groups praised the decision.

"It is the boldest move ever to prevent the overfishing of tuna. It is significant. It has really drawn a line," says Greenpeace campaigner Dean Baigent-Mercer.

The nations identified so-called "doughnut holes" as waters that have been overexploited by tuna fishermen. One of the two areas is located north of Papua New Guinea, and the other is further east. Licensed boats operating in the protected waters will have to carry fisheries observers on board, among other measures.

"Our region will achieve success if our countries band together to adopt and implement action plans to fight illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, both on national levels and with respect to fishing on the high seas," Palau VP Elias Chin told meeting attendees.

South Pacific Nations Adopt Tuna Moratorium

SeaFood Business

May 21, 2008 - Eight South Pacific island nations on Tuesday agreed to block bigeye and yellowfin tuna fishing in the region's international waters.

At the Fourth Forum Fisheries Ministerial Meeting in the Republic of Palau, eight nations - the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu - agreed to prohibit licensed tuna vessels from fishing in two areas marked for protection beginning June 15. Environmental groups praised the decision.

"It is the boldest move ever to prevent the overfishing of tuna. It is significant. It has really drawn a line," says Greenpeace campaigner Dean Baigent-Mercer.

The nations identified so-called "doughnut holes" as waters that have been overexploited by tuna fishermen. One of the two areas is located north of Papua New Guinea, and the other is further east. Licensed boats operating in the protected waters will have to carry fisheries observers on board, among other measures.

"Our region will achieve success if our countries band together to adopt and implement action plans to fight illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, both on national levels and with respect to fishing on the high seas," Palau VP Elias Chin told meeting attendees.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Hudson River Study Finds 10 Species Ailing

by The Associated Press
Thursday May 15, 2008, 7:06 AM

A study of 13 Hudson River fish species indicates 10 have declined since the mid-1970s, despite a significant improvement in the river's water quality.

One fish, the rainbow smelt, no longer shows up at all in the samplings, the report said.

It suggests a variety of causes, ranging from global warming to the invasion of the zebra mussel. But it also points a finger at five power plants that take in river water -- and millions of fish and fish eggs each year -- to cool their equipment.

"Even if the power companies are not the sole cause of degradation of the Hudson River fish community, the loss of such high proportions of the fish populations must be important," the report said.

The environmental group Riverkeeper, which commissioned the study from Pisces Conservation Ltd., a British consultant, planned to release the study at a riverside news conference Thursday morning. The Associated Press obtained a copy in advance.

Riverkeeper has been trying for years to force power plants to upgrade their cooling systems to a closed-cycle type that would use 97 percent less river water. The group's president, Alex Matthiessen, said Wednesday that the Clean Water Act requires that such technology be updated and that he would call on the state Department of Environmental Conservation to enforce the requirement.

"Too many of these species are in serious decline," he said. "You have to try and address all the factors that are playing a role, and at the very least, you have to make sure that the various parties responsible are following the law."

Matthiessen said the study's findings surprised him.

"We've managed to improve the river over the last four decades. We thought it would only make sense that as the river became cleaner the ecosystem upon which the fish depend would become healthier," he said

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Grow Fish In Your Basement

Turned off by high seafood prices? Maybe the future of seafood is next to the washing machine or the water heater in your basement. It might seem like a far fetched idea, but it is one that increased transportation costs could bring closer to reality. The article below appeared in a recent Mother Earth News.

USA.- For the past several years, the good folks at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance in Washington, D.C. have worked to help urban residents gain greater control over their lives through the use of low-technology, decentralist tools and concepts.

We strongly believe that more people (city dwellers and country folk alike) should be exposed to the Institute's admirable efforts... which is why we've made this "what's happening where" report by ILSR staffers one of MOTHER'S regular features.
Raising fish in the basement—as a means of producing a home supply of inexpensive protein—is an enticing idea to urban and rural dwellers alike... especially now that overfishing (coupled with the pollution of many spawning and feeding areas) has led to higher seafood prices.
Fish can , of course, be grown in basements (as Dr. Fernwood Mitchell proved when he raised rainbow trout in his Washington, D.C. cellar). Such closed systems, however, require perpetual filtering and aeration of the water, constant temperature control, and regular supplemental feedings... and they'll only be worthwhile when transportation expenses become so high that basement growing, with all of its costs, becomes economically competitive with our present commercial fisheries.
On the other hand, not all aquaculture is as intensive and financially prohibitive as are basement systems. Ocean ranching is a good example of the other "fin farming" extreme. Salmon hatcheries on our northeastern and northwestern coasts release millions of juveniles each year... fish that are subsequently harvested by both commercial boats and sports anglers. (The Lummi Indians of Bellingham, Washington—who use their trout and salmon hatcheries as a spur to encourage community economic development—produce nearly five million fingerlings a year.)
In addition, there's an extension of ocean ranching—a system that's appropriate for a wider variety of species—in which the juveniles are released into a partially enclosed environment... one that can receive some management. Known as parc culture , this system was initially developed to grow oysters in Brittany's tidal flats, but is now being used in many American shellfish beds. And—for more mobile forms of marine life—gates can be used to retain the finned groups in the "cropped" bay, tidal flat, or whatever.
Raft culture provides still another fish farming alternative. By growing mussel colonies on rafts anchored in the middle of an unpolluted estuary, Ed Meyers of Damariscotta, Maine is able to raise the shellfish for less than 20¢ a pound!
Ponds are, therefore, the best hope for city fish farming. Such small "lakes" can take advantage of the energy available from solar radiation... the higher temperatures of the urban environment... and, perhaps, even wind power to provide water circulation.
Source: Mother Earth News

Monday, May 12, 2008

Fuel Cost Affects Seafood

The rising cost of diesel is putting a real strain on many sectors of the seafood industry. Recent articles from all coasts, and overseas are highlighting the plight of fishermen as they struggle to make ends meet. More often than not the choice is to fish or not to fish. When the decision is how much money do I want to lose, it is sometimes better to just stay tied up. A visit to Long Island over a relatively calm weather weekend revealed docks with commercial boats, many with for sale signs. Even charters leaving from Crossbay, New York are making sure that they are completely booked before heading out. So with costs to fishermen up we are seeing dock prices start to skyrocket. That of course means that consumer costs will be steadily rising. The big question is how that affects overall purchases in the future. It could help some species by relieving pressures, but by what factor. And of course their is always someone willing to pay any price. In addition to fueling boats, the seafood industry will be affected by transportation costs. The perishable nature of fish requires a lot of just on time and less than full load trucking. This means that the cost to transport less available seafood stands to equal the same costs enjoyed in the past for larger quantities of product. All this information may seem obvious to some, but of course understanding doesn't always equal acceptance. End customer distributors, retailers, and food service establishments are tasked with surviving on ever narrowing margins. I have only talked about these fuel costs as they relate to wild caught product, but these and other factors are adding costs into aqua cultured products as well. Tilapia prices as an example have increased by 25% since this time last year.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Sustainable Guidelines for Seafood

Just launched is a new site The Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions . This is just the kind of consolidation that we need. Now that some of those have gotten together to set some basic guidelines for all my fellow fishmongers, chefs, cooks, and consumers to take a good look at. One problem that has troubled the entire issue of seafood sustainability is the fragmented and confusing messages from a myriad of experts. By the way I am not an expert, just a concerned fishmonger trying to make a difference. When I was looking to label all the seafood I currently buy, sell, and stock I collected data from no less than a dozen organizations with different guidelines, I think we are moving in a a better direction. Though brand new, the site offers specific ideas for everyone to use in their efforts at a better future for the oceans.

Below is the Alliance's press release

Businesses Seeking Expertise from the Conservation Community
Now Have Clear Steps for Moving Ahead on Sustainable Seafood
Groups Release Ambitious, Realistic Vision for Ensuring a Long-Term Seafood Supply
(Washington, D.C.) – More than a dozen Canadian and U.S. organizations today released steps companies
can take to develop and implement a comprehensive, corporate policy on sustainable, wild-caught and farmed
seafood. The “Common Vision for Environmentally Sustainable Seafood” highlights a clear path for achieving
sustainability in the seafood industry. For a full copy of the Common Vision, visit
These organizations – which all have a strong history of working with the seafood industry and policymakers
on environmentally responsible seafood issues – have partnered to form the Conservation Alliance for Seafood
“Our Common Vision outlines an ambitious but realistic path toward sustainable seafood that businesses can
follow to safeguard the future viability of their industry,” said Mark Powell, vice president for fish conservation,
Ocean Conservancy.
“In the past, we’ve heard from companies that there is too much competing information about environmentally
responsible seafood,” said Jennifer Lash, executive director, Living Oceans Society. “Seafood buyers and
suppliers now have clear and consistent input from a broad range of conservation groups about how to move
The Common Vision identifies six critical areas where companies can take action to ensure a sustainable
seafood supply and protect ocean environments:
• Making a commitment to develop and implement a comprehensive, corporate policy on sustainable
• Collecting data to assess and monitor the environmental sustainability of their seafood products;
• Buying environmentally responsible seafood;
• Making information regarding their seafood products publicly available;
• Educating their consumers, suppliers, employees and other key stakeholders about environmentally
responsible seafood; and
• Engaging in and supporting policy and management changes that lead to positive environmental
outcomes in fisheries and aquaculture.
Seafood buyers and suppliers can be a powerful force for improving the environmental performance of the
seafood industry. A number of businesses including Plitt Company, Ahold USA and Compass Group North
America have voiced their support for the Common Vision – and for the need to improve ocean health to
maintain the long-term viability of the seafood supply. To see what these companies have to say about the
Common Vision, visit
“It just makes good business sense for companies that buy and sell seafood to ensure a long-term supply of
seafood through direct support for environmentally responsible seafood policies and practices,” said Tobias
Aguirre, executive director, FishWise.
“We recognize that achieving the Common Vision is a journey with many steps,” said Rebecca Goldburg,
senior scientist, Environmental Defense Fund. “We want to join together with committed companies to move
forward, using this Common Vision as a guide.”
“The Common Vision outlines new opportunities for companies to expand enterprise in a more responsible way
with long-term benefits for the industry,” Bill Wareham, senior marine conservation specialist, David Suzuki
The following organizations developed and are actively supporting the Common Vision:
Blue Ocean Institute
Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society
David Suzuki Foundation
Ecology Action Centre
Environmental Defense Fund
Living Oceans Society
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Natural Resources Defense Council
New England Aquarium
Ocean Conservancy
Sierra Club British Columbia
World Wildlife Fund – US
For more information about the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions and the Common Vision for
Environmentally Sustainable Seafood, visit
More than a dozen conservation organizations from the United States and Canada have partnered to pursue a common
vision for sustainable seafood and work together as the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions. Using a range of
approaches, participating organizations bring conservation expertise to companies that buy and sell seafood. Our goal is
to preserve the health of ocean and freshwater ecosystems and ensure a long-term seafood supply