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.

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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.

ORLANDO:
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.