Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Aramark's Sustainable Seafood Pledge

Aramark announced it will be working with the Monterey Bay Aquarium to source sustainable seafood. Aramark is one of the largest food management services in the United States. I have worked for them and to the best of my knowledge with maybe the exception of shrimp, seafood is a very small amount of purchases. All that aside it is good that they are making an effort, because even if seafood only accounts for a small percentage of unit sales. Typical units are convention centers, sports arenas, jails, schools, health care, and business dining. The volume of sales translate that small percentage into tons of seafood. As a seafood distributor I would love to be a preferred vendor.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Fishmongers I have known

In the summer of 1995 I was an underemployed cook, house painter, and part time college student. One of my favorite restaurants in the Tampa Bay area had just moved over the bridge and to Saint Petersburg Florida. That restaurant was Native Seafood, and on a warm evening in July of that year all the stars were lining up in my favor. I asked one of my college classmates a beautiful young lady named Marta to dinner that evening, and she agreed to let me take her to Native Seafood. We must have gotten a late start because I remember most of the customers were making there way out while we were on our way in. It was a pleasant night so we chose to sit on the deck and enjoy our dinner. Our waiter for the evening was quite charming, I think he was trying to make time with my date, but the wine and my delight to have her as my date did not allow it to bother me. So after a delightful meal of tropical inspired cuisine we were the last two customers in the place, and the staff was cleaning up. Our server Leonardo joined us at my request and we all enjoyed a new bottle of wine together. The conversation turned to the food, and I mentioned I had done some cooking. In a matter of time I was introduced to Pedro, one of the owners of Native Seafood. Pedro and I hit it off almost immediately comparing the subtleties of the wines and the flavors of his recipes, and the wonders of the on site herb garden. Pedro offered me a job in the kitchen I did not plan on taking. As everyone said goodnight he handed me his card, it read; Pedro Alvarez, fishmonger.

Friday, April 25, 2008

For the low low price of just $10.00 I was able to purchase the word FISHMONGER on a new site that allows anyone to buy a word and link it to anywhere they want. I linked it right here to For more information about the the big word project check out the May issue of Wired magazine.

By the way here are a few online definitions for Fishmonger.

Fishmonger and the Big Word Project

For the low low price of just $10.00 I was able to purchase the word FISHMONGER on a new site that allows anyone to buy a word and link it to anywhere they want. I linked it right here to For more information about the the big word project check out the May issue of Wired magazine.

By the way here are a few online definitions for Fishmonger.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Wild Salmon in Trouble

California, and Oregon are acting to save the future of wild salmon. There is a big problem concerning the amount of water available in that area. Apparently too much water is being diverted to agriculture to provide the salmon with the river and stream beds needed to reproduce. I think that it is a good move to stop the harvest this year, but it is obvious to me that we need to think about the root causes of these problems. Attention government officials you need to relax your allegiance to Agra powers that be. Not only does this problem drastically affect the salmon, but it is a huge financial burden to the local fishery, and those people involved with it. This is one case where the lack of fish is not solely due to poor management. Today is Earth day and this should be a wake up call for everyone. If you want to do something write your elected officials and let them know you care. I hope that the closure is not too little or too late. Take a look at these related websites as well.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Supply and Demand

I am pretty sure that during all those lectures in economics I was busy checking out the young ladies in the class, but I do remember something about supply and demand. Oh yes the rule of supply and demand is bearing down strong on the seafood industry. A number of factors are working against anyone who purchases seafood. Factor number one; the weak dollar is giving our overseas counterparts more buying power, and helping to drive prices up here for species like wild salmon, and many of your Boston area fish
Additional factors causing this can be traced to lower yields from farmed fish including tilapia, and farmed salmon. The aquaculture industry is also competing for some of the same feed that land based farming operations use, and they too are facing higher prices driven up by high fuel prices. Anyone who has read my blog, or recent articles elsewhere is fairly aware about the growing concern we are depleting our oceans from overfishing. Plus overall consumption of seafood is up in many sectors either due to peoples desire to eat healthier, or a growing population of people that can afford to splurge, so to speak. So with all that being said, what are we to do we to do? I am not sure there is any simple answer in the near future. Until we can find a way to bring a greater amount of product to the market without causing harm, then we may just have to get used to it.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Dear Dr. Science,
Humans often times swallow air while eating. Later they release that air in the form of a burp. Do fish swallow water and burp water?
from Rob King of "Harrodsburg, KY"

Well, here's another solution to one of life's great mysteries, courtesy of the world's foremost authoritarian, Dr. Science. If you've got a mystery, puzzle or general conundrum that's been keeping you up at night, send it to Dr. Science. He's working for all of us and is only too happy to clarify the complicated. Drop off your question at the Dr.'s question page and it may qualify for the Questionable Hall of Fame, a collection of the best questions submitted during the past few months. While you're there, check out the Dr.'s fabulous collection of scientific merchandise and official geegaws at no perceptible charge to you!
"They do, and it's one of the more common forms of fish locomotion. Of course, burping water propels the fish backwards. Fish flatulence, on the other hand, drives the fish forwards. By cleverly combining these two forms, fish can turn on a dime, zip away from the jaws of a bigger fish, and generally have as much fun as a fish can have, which I suspect isn't much fun at all. For fun you need variety, and from what I can determine, fish exist in a monotonous form of underwater tedium that pales in comparison to the happy-go-lucky frolics we see in Disney or Pixar animated films."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Seafood Choices

Here are two lists showing seafood consumption. The first is from the N.F.I. (National Fisheries International). The next one is from sales data for New York only. Compiled from various sources. Both are for the last full year.


  7. CRAB
  8. COD
  9. CLAMS


  6. COD
  7. BASS

Friday, April 11, 2008

Blackfish is Back

Northeast - Tautog Fishery Moratorium Ended

NOAA Fisheries has announced the cancellation of the Federal moratorium on fishing for tautog in the State waters of New Jersey. NOAA Fisheries canceled the moratorium, as required by the Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act, based on the determination that New Jersey is now in compliance with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's Tautog Interstate Fishery Management Plan.

For addition information, please contact Bob Ross, NOAA Fishery Management Specialist, telephone (978) 281-9327.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Sustainable Seafood - A Primer for Chefs

If you are a Chef in the great city of New York, I would like to extend an invitation to an upcoming event. For more information reply to this post, or use the contact the fishmonger link.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Chefs Only


Come and relax with your friends at Wild Edibles, get your questions answered about sustainability, have a few drinks and enjoy the freshest oysters, scallops, and specialties available.

Wednesday, April 16th

9:30 pm – 1:00 am or later


535 Third Avenue

(Between 35th and 36th)

Guest speakers:

Rod Taylor Taylor Seafood of New Haven

Dane Klinger Blue Ocean Institute

Please RSVP

Wild Edibles


See you there,

Richard, James, MJ, Michael, Matt, Luis, Walter, Bobby, Robert, and the entire staff.


Doom and Gloom

I hope that any readers of this blog will not take the last few posts as any indicator of the general tone I would like to portray. That being said there is definitely some reason for concern when it comes to seafood, its sustainability, and the future of the oceans. I for one have faith that together the industry, and humans will do the right thing. It will take some time for the public to get the message, and be the right kind of driving force.

The future is aquaculture, but aquaculture done right. For so many years and just as many news articles the public has been fed a steady diet of the failures and problems of aquaculture, and the greatness of wild fish. Of course there is always some truth, and I am not going to argue that farmed salmon is the best thing since sliced bread, but I doubt that it has more impact on the environment than conventional land based meat production.

At least the industry is having the conversation, and some farms are doing things to lessen the impact. One example is the Scottish salmon producer Loch Duart. In speaking recently to the U.S. distributor Clean Fish they informed me that they would start a program to raise sea urchin below the salmon's sea cages. Not only would this provide some level of refuse abatement, but it also diversifies and brings us another product to market.

In addition land based operations like Australis, and there farmed barramundi is a good example of how to do aquaculture right. They even get shining reviews from Monterey Bay Aquarium, a leader in providing good information about sustainability.

One real hurdle remains because we eat mostly carnivorous fish, and that could be a real problem for wild stocks, since the majority of protein for these fish comes from small bait fish like herring and menhaden.

So if you are a consumer, or a concerned chef be sure to ask your fishmonger what you can do to help.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Chatham Cod

Another case of limited number of fish, and a bigger consumer appetite than it can accomidate. In todays dining section of the New York Times

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Fish learning to catch themselves

Plan is being tested to use sound to train fish to swim into harvesting areas.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

BOSTON — Call them Pavlov's fish: Scientists are testing a plan to train fish to catch themselves by swimming into a net when they hear a tone that signals feeding time.

If it works, the system could eventually allow black sea bass to be released into the open ocean, where they would grow to market size, then swim into an underwater cage to be harvested when they hear the signal.

"It sounds crazy, but it's real," said Simon Miner, a research assistant at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Wood's Hole, which received a $270,000 grant for the project from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Miner said specially trained fish might one day be used to bolster the depleted black sea bass stock.

The bigger goal is to defray the costs of fish farming, an increasingly important source of the world's seafood. If fish can be trained to return to the farmer after feeding in the open ocean for several days, farms could save money on feed and reduce the amount of fish waste released in concentrated areas.

Randy MacMillan, president of the National Aquaculture Association, said fish farmers won't be easily persuaded to adopt open-ocean ranching. There are questions about how many fish would be lost to predators or how many might simply swim away.

"The commercial side is going to be skeptical," said MacMillan, who works on a trout farm in Idaho.

The project is one of several aquaculture experiments financed by the federal government last year. "We're looking for innovations that will actually make a difference for coastal communities and the environment," said Michael Rubino, the agency's aquaculture manager. "It fits in both."

Past experiments have used sound to train a fish to feed — similar to what Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov did with his famous dogs that salivated at the sound of a bell, expecting food.

In Japan, scientists have used sound to keep newly released farmed fish in certain areas, where they could be caught in traditional ways.

But no one has ever tried to get fish to leave and return to an enclosure where they can be scooped up.

The project began last summer using 6,500 black sea bass, a bottom-dwelling fish that lives between Florida and Cape Cod.

The species grows up to 3 pounds and 20 inches long and has a thick, white flesh that can be filleted for broiling or cut into nuggets for frying.

Miner said the first objective was to see whether the fish could truly be trained. He got his answer after keeping the fish in a circular tank and then sounding a tone before he dropped food in an enclosed "feeding zone" within the tank that the fish could enter only through a small opening.

Researchers played the tone for 20 seconds, three times a day, for about two weeks. Afterward, whenever the tone sounded, "you have remote-control fish," Miner said. "You hit that button, and they go into that area, and they wait patiently."

Miner is now trying to figure out how long fish remember to associate the tone with food. He feeds the fish outside the feeding zone without a tone for a few days and then tests if they will still go to the feeding area when the tone sounds again.

Some fish forgot after five days. Others remembered for as long as 10 days. Miner said the strength of memory seems tied to how long the fish are trained.

By May, researchers say, they hope to bring about 5,000 black sea bass to a feeding station called an AquaDome, a structure about 33 feet across and 16 feet high that will be anchored to the ocean floor in Buzzards Bay, 45 miles southeast of Boston.

The sea bass will be fed in the dome after a tone sounds. After researchers decide that they've been sufficiently trained, the fish will be freed from the dome. A day or two later, scientists will sound the tone and see how many bass return.

They'll do the experiment again near summer's end.

The tone will have a range of about 100 meters. Miner said sea bass are a territorial fish that prefer a rocky bottom, like that in Buzzards Bay. He said he doesn't think they will stray too far.

But MacMillan said he isn't convinced the fish won't just swim away.

"My experience with fish is they will wander far and wide," he said.

MacMillan said getting farmed fish to supplement their diets with ocean feeding is intriguing, but farmed fish now get a steady diet that produces reliable growth.

He also expects large numbers of released fish to be lost to predators.

Scott Lindell, the project's leader, said losing fish is a concern. But the savings of the AquaDome plan are potentially huge: Even if only half the fish come back after reaching market size, the operation would be more profitable than current fish farming methods.

The dome, for instance, is 10 times cheaper than a standard aquaculture sea cage.

Miner said real answers won't start coming until the fish hit Buzzards Bay this spring: "There's probably 18,000 ways for it to go wrong and only one way to go right."