Weekly Fish Reports

Sea to Table's Weekly Fish Report provides weekly information on landings and species availability from each of our partner fisheries.

Fish Cops and Ocean Czars

December 14, 2014

Seafood fraud is a highly lucrative enterprise. American consumers might not realize that about 25 percent of all wild-caught seafood imports are part of the illicit trade, according to a study published this year in the journal Marine Policy. Those illegal imports are worth an estimated $2 billion annually across the United States, the world's second-largest importer of seafood.

As dozens of countries have recognized an emerging international threat, Interpol has begun a campaign to fight fisheries crime. "People say, 'It's just fish,' but the illegal trade of wildlife products is huge," said NOAA Special Agent Stuart Cory, who is vice chairman of Interpol's new fisheries working group. In fact, fish and wildlife ranks third behind only firearms and drugs in illegal trafficking.

Our Maryland friend Jack Brooks of J.M. Clayton, America’s oldest crab picking house, worries about imported crab and mislabeling in the Chesapeake Bay region. "The fraud event happens when unscrupulous domestic companies, seeing a quick and profitable opportunity, simply open this (Indonesian) crabmeat and put it in a domestic container," he said. There is "no or very limited enforcement" of such fraud, leaving domestic competitors with higher costs, killing seafood jobs.

Trot-liner Norman Gowes has been crabbing in the Chesapeake for 52 years
Gulf of Maine groundfish boat F/V Orion at the dock in Portland, Maine

In an inspired choice, the Department of State named Dr. Jane Lubchenco as the first U.S. Science Envoy for the Ocean. The move reflects both the growing priority of ocean issues and the kind of collaborative approach it takes to restore jobs, communities and biodiversity worldwide. In her new position, Dr. Lubchenco can help bring the best scientific understanding and practical solutions for getting more fish in the sea, more food on the plate, and more prosperous communities around the world. 

U.S. Acadian redfish, haddock and pollock otter trawl fishery have voluntarily entered the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) independent assessment process. Products from the fishery will be eligible to carry the MSC eco-label if it successfully achieves certification. The fishery is located in the U.S. Atlantic exclusive economic zone (EEZ) waters in the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank region. It covers all fish harvesters in the groundfish complex managed by the New England Fisheries Management Council (NEFMC) under the authority of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Service. In light of the continuing problem with Atlantic cod populations, we think this is a good move for the fishery and the traditional communities it supports.

And a shout out to our friend Chef Andrew Gruel, mastermind of Southern California’s Slapfish, who not only sources his seafood from the right places, but is sourcing his vegetables from local school gardens. Gruel said he wants to use the partnership with Huntington Beach High’s Green Team as a model for sustainable farming programs at other high schools near his restaurants. Great stuff.

All the best,
from the Dimins and the Sea to Table team


Eating Better Seafood

December 7, 2014

Our friend Paul Greenberg, acclaimed author of Four Fish,  visited the Sea to Table office this week to sign some books and talk some fish. His latest book, American Catch, looks at three iconic American fisheries; New York oysters, Alaska salmon, and Gulf of Mexico shrimp.

Paul observes that Americans only eat about 15 pounds of seafood per year, half of the global average. While other countries are willing to pay top dollar, he says “Americans want our seafood cheap and easy”. Of the seafood that Americans consume, two-thirds is either shrimp (mostly farmed) , salmon (mostly farmed), tuna (canned), and tilapia (farmed).

“This country controls 2.8 billion acres of ocean, more ocean than any country on earth. Yet more than 85 percent of our seafood is imported,” he explained. “I wanted to write a book that looked at why this is happening what is happening to our local resources.”

Sea to Table conference room after Paul Greenberg book signing.
Shrimp boats on Florida's Panhandle

Shrimp is especially problematic. Shrimp farms are causing vast environmental damage worldwide, are being found to be contaminated with banned antibiotics at record rates, have been identified with slave labor practices, and a recent study identified that more than a third of all shrimp sold in the US is “misrepresented or mislabeled."

However the answer to this mess is right before us; enjoy healthy, sustainable, wild American shrimp direct from traditional US fisheries. The Gulf of Mexico is enjoying the best shrimp season in recent memory. The MSC-certified Oregon pink shrimp fishery is thriving. And spot prawns from Alaska are the best.

American Culinary Federation chefs have identified sustainable seafood as one of 2015’s top menu trends. Give your guests some love by teaching them about more diverse species, and getting them to support American fishing communities by enjoying more healthy and delicious seafood.


All the best,
from the Dimins and the Sea to Table team


Connecting Old Boy Fishermen with Hip Women Chefs

November 30, 2014

Sea to Table team members Camilla Abder and Lindsay Haas travelled from the ocean to the mountains of North Carolina this month. Starting out in the bountiful port of Beaufort, they got to spend some time with some of our favorite fishermen.

'Grouperman' unloading in Beaufort
Jack Cox heading back to the dock

David Tucker, aka Grouperman, loves nothing more than running his boat offshore before dawn to his favorite hidden honey holes and, using rod and reel, lands grouper and amberjack, returning to the dock before the sun goes down. Jack Cox has been fishing off Cape Hatteras since 1980, and knows the waters off Beaufort as well as anyone. He is a member of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, and now owns four boats. His F/V Sea Mint is run by Captain James Holden, whose native Lumbee ancestors have fished those waters for centuries. Captain Big Eddie from Harkers Island uses pound-nets to land spotted seatrout and summer flounder.

James Holden captaining the F/V Sea Mint
Big Eddie's pound-net summer flounder

After swapping stories at the dock, Camilla and Lindsay headed inland to “the Triangle” of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, where an active food scene flourishes. They stopped to visit with a number of chef friends, including the team at Lantern, James Beard awarding winning chef Andrea Reusing’s Chapel Hill restaurant. They continued visiting across Carolina, ending up in Asheville where the Blue Ridge Mountains provide a beautiful backdrop to a burgeoning food culture. Here our long time friend Katie Button, executive chef and co-owner of Cúrate and Nightbell, is recognized as one of "The World's Best Chefs." Lindsay and Camilla report that Carolina cuisine made them very happy.

The body of research confirming that it is smart to eat wild fish continues to grow. UCLA Dr. Cyrus Raji, in a new study in the current American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found that people who regularly eat fish have more voluminous brains than those who do not—in such a way that stands to protect them from Alzheimer's disease. "If you eat fish just once a week, your hippocampus—the big memory and learning center—is 14 percent larger than in people who don't eat fish that frequently. 14 percent. That has implications for reducing Alzheimer's risk," Raji said. "If you have a stronger hippocampus, your risk of Alzheimer's is going to go down.

Across the world in Egypt, news is not so good. Today’s release of Hosni Mubarek makes the blood shed at the Arab Spring run cold. And current Egyptian strongman General el-Sisi announced that the Suez Canal would be expanded — to around double its size. But in addition to hosting 10 percent of the world’s shipping traffic, the canal is a major conduit for invasive species. Yet the Suez Canal expansion is proceeding without any environmental review whatsoever.

A paper in the journal Biological Invasions calling the expansion and lack of environmental oversight “ominous” because “the Suez Canal is one of the most potent mechanisms and corridors for invasions by marine species known in the world.” The lead author, Bella S. Galil, from the National Institute of Oceanography said, “We are playing Russian roulette, not with a bay or a river, but with the entire Mediterranean Sea.”

All the best,
from the Dimin Family and the Sea to Table team

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