Weekly Fish Reports

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

Giving Thanks

November 23, 2014

In a world that seems to create difficulties that challenge the most optimistic of spirits, it is important to step back and count our blessings.

Our fishermen in the Gulf of Maine, whose rising temperature is changing the ecosystem, are grateful for the growing market for abundant redfish, pollock, and hake.

Boats landing on Cape Cod, whose iconic cod have migrated north, are beginning to create a domestic market for the ubiquitous and delicious dogfish that now dominate their waters.

For the Montauk boats that have been given an increased quota for the well managed golden tilefish of the Hudson Canyon.

To the bay men in one man boats that are finally seeing a market emerge for the wild blue catfish that have invaded the Chesapeake.

Beaufort day boat fishermen are finally feeling there is a future for their families in the growing populations of the Carolina grouper snapper complex.

With October’s landing near record levels, Gulf shrimpers are finally seeing a light in the tunnel of competing with imported shrimp as consumers begin to understand the differences.

West coast ground fishermen are gratified that the tough management they endured has produced such positive results that Seafood Watch has changed their rating from red to green.

And to Bristol Bay Alaska where thousands of fishing families are breathing a bit easier over the threat of Pebble Mine, and for the forecast of record sockeye returns for next season.

Virginia fisherman Wille Offield with Chesapeake wild blue catfish
Chef Rick Bower & Sous Nick Goodwin of Marina Inn & Kahills in Sioux Falls, IA with striking striped bass from Montauk

These are all very good things for American fishermen and the traditional fishing communities they support. And they are most grateful to the chef community whose leadership and voice have been at the center of communicating these values to diners everywhere. For our fishermen, we thank you.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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


Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

November 16, 2014

It is generally accepted that illegal fishing is the number one threat to the sustainability of fisheries around the globe. Some estimates are that illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) accounts for up to $23.5 billion worth of fish annually worldwide, and up to 20 percent of all wild marine fish caught. Fisheries scientists estimate that every minute of every day 108,000 pounds of wild fish are stolen from the ocean.

Experts have always lamented that pirate fishing was a problem too big to solve, with the vastness of the ocean and a lack of international cooperation. An amazing thing happened this week as Sea to Table was visiting Google in San Francisco to discuss seafood supply chain and approaches to improve wild fisheries; Google announced a remarkable new tool for reining in IUU fishing worldwide.

A prototype of the technology called Global Fishing Watch will allow the public to view online where fishing boats are operating around the globe. The tool will give governments, non-government organizations and the public the ability to monitor where illegal fishing is taking place.

While the technology can't prevent instances of illegal fishing, making the information publicly available could help governments police commercial fishing, said Jackie Savitz, vice president of U.S. Oceans for Oceana. In countries with governments less willing or able to prevent overfishing, the public will have more knowledge to pressure them, she said.

"Illegal fishing is something that we can hope to put a dent in with Global Fishing Watch," said Ms. Savitz. "What is cool is that the technology does most of the work."

We think this is awesome.

Global Fishing Watch, with Google teaming up with mapping company SkyTruth and marine-advocacy group Oceana 
Massive pelagic drift-netter pillaging the Indian Ocean

With consumers showing increasing appetite for sustainable seafood, questions continue on eco-labeling and standards. It is reassuring, with US fisheries management being the world’s beacon, that fish in American waters are experiencing population rebounds. And with over 90% of all seafood consumed in the U.S. coming from outside the U.S., it is good to know that when we choose domestic wild fish we support healthy fish stocks and the health of traditional fishing communities.

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


Fish Problems Big and Small

November 9, 2014

The iconic Atlantic Striped Bass are now migrating south from New England waters to the Chesapeake where they are often called rockfish.  Although they are considered not to be “overfished or subject to overfishing” striper populations are dwindling, causing the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to decrease fishing quotas 25% by 2015.

Striped Bass is the state fish of Maryland, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and the state saltwater fish of New York, New Jersey, Virginia, and New Hampshire. It is also Sean Dimin’s favorite fish, and the cause of its demise seems clear: the destruction of menhaden, their feedstock.

Called ‘the most important fish in the sea”, annual menhaden catch exceeds the tonnage of all other Atlantic species combined, once greater than one billion pounds, remaining over 250 million pounds per year. Not one of these fish is destined for direct human consumption. Menhaden are oily and foul and packed with tiny bones  These kibble of the sea fetch only about 10 cents a pound at the dock, but they can be formed into fish oil and fish meal, high-protein feed for farmed salmon, chickens, pigs, and cattle. Pop some barbecued wings into your mouth, and at least part of what you're eating was once menhaden. Humans eat menhaden in other forms too. Menhaden are the key dietary component for a wide variety of fish, including bass, mackerel, cod, bonito, swordfish, bluefish, and tuna.

Omega Protein is the largest commercial fishing operation on the Chesapeake Bay and along the Atlantic coast. They deploy spotter planes to sight schools of menhaden and call in their fleet of 170 foot converted WWll transport ships to literally vacuum fish from the sea for delivery to their Virginia plant.

Bastianich and Batali Hospitality Group chefs Felidia's Fortunato Nicotra, Esca's Dave Pasternack, Bryan Gosman, Eataly's Hank Balle, and Casa Mono's Anthony Sasso land a 48 pound Striped Bass off Montauk, NY
Vacuuming "the most important fish in the sea" from the Chesapeake Bay.

Atlantic menhaden are a vital link in the food chain, with the ability to filter a volume of water equal to the entire Chesapeake Bay in less than one day. They consume the nitrogen and algae created by the effluence from the CAFO (confined animal feed operation) chicken processing plants that choke the bay. 

When Europeans first arrived on the east coast of America, they encountered a living river of menhaden flowing with the seasons north and south along the coast, extending out for miles, and sometimes filling bays and estuaries from Florida to Maine with almost solid flesh. In 1608, explorer John Smith found his two-ton boat laboring through a mass of menhaden in the Chesapeake Bay “lying so thick with their heads above the water, as for want of nets (our barge driving amongst them) we attempted to catch them with a frying pan.”

Imagine if industrial food interests were redirected to protecting forage fish. The ocean is far smarter than man at manufacturing protein, and nothing is healthier or tastes better than wild fish.

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

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