Weekly Fish Reports

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

More on Morro Bay

September 28, 2015

Morro Bay is an iconic fishing community in San Luis Obispo County on California’s central coast. After decades of being a highly productive port, fishing in Morro Bay nearly collapsed in 2005 when federal regulators placed 3.8 million acres of ocean floor near the Central Coast off-limits to fishing. However the last decade has found fish populations growing so dramatically that the Marine Stewardship Council has certified the groundfishery there as fully sustainable. Fishermen there are celebrating this fact at October’s Morro Bay Harbor Festival in conjunction with National Seafood Month. Sea to Table is celebrating by making more friends in Morro Bay, looking for better markets for their fish.

Bill Blue moved to Morro Bay in 1974 after graduating high school in southern California. Sport fishing with his dad while growing up had given him a love for the ocean and the dream of owning his own boat. Walking the docks in the afternoon for a couple of weeks, he finally found work on a crab boat. For the next two years he was mentored by two long time Morro Bay fishermen, Fred Cefalu and Al French. They taught him what hard work and commitment was all about. In 1977 Bill bought his first boat. Forty years later, Bill is still pursuing his dream, fishing for Black cod, Dungeness crab and Rockfish using pots and longlines up and down the California coast. Bill’s family is still sharing the dream and his youngest son, Scott works with him on their boat the F/V Brita Michelle.

Almost half of the edible U.S. seafood supply is lost each year, mainly from consumer waste, new research from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future suggests. The findings come as food waste in general has been in the spotlight. The new study analyzed food waste by focusing on the amount of seafood lost annually at each stage of the food supply chain and at the consumer level. From 2009 to 2013, 2.3 billion pounds of seafood on average in the U.S. was wasted annually. That's 208 billion grams of protein a year that no one got to eat.  More than half of the total is purchased by consumers and not eaten. About a quarter of the waste occurs at sea, where by-catch is thrown back. An additional 15 percent or so is lost en route from sea to consumer, often because it spoils or is discarded as scraps at processing plants.

"If we're told to eat significantly more seafood, but the supply is severely threatened, it is critical and urgent to reduce waste of seafood," says Johns Hopkins' David Love . This is really part of the bigger issue of food waste. "How do you force people to eat what they buy?" asks Jonathan Bloom, blogger at WastedFood.com and the author of American Wasteland. He thinks many Americans will continue throwing food away until they see it as throwing away money.

Morro Bay fisherman Bill Blue

Sea to Table's Lindsay Haas visited Cleveland last week and enjoyed some tasty Atlantic Pollock at Chef Doug Katz's Fire Food & Drink.... 
"potato crusted pollock butter bean and corn succotash, house made bacon, buttermilk-mint aioli and fresh herbs"

In a scathing article, UK’s Guardian exposes industrial meat production as “one of the worst crimes in history”. We remain very concerned about the evolution of fish farming in the same paradigm. The WWF renewed concerns about the lack of aquaculture standards for the use of wild fish as feed source for farmed fish. They warn that “reduction fisheries” boost risks to oceans worldwide. Over 12 million pounds of illegal, undeclared fishmeal was confiscated in Chile last week. Officials estimate over 68 million pounds in illegally fished anchovy and sardine raw material was needed to manufacture that fishmeal. Also last week, Reserve published an interview with our own Michael Dimin about the growing desire among consumers for sustainable seafood. Diners are becoming more aware and are voting with their forks.

Fishermen are reporting that rising temperatures in the Gulf of Maine are attracting Black Sea Bass populations further north, threatening young lobster populations by feeding on them. In yet another example of warming oceans, ocean sunfish, or mola mola, are finding their way further and further north. These behemoths have traditionally been found in tropical or temperate waters, sometimes reaching more than 2000 pounds. This hysterical video was taken in Boston Harbor earlier this month by some exuberant local fishermen. Wicked funny.

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


Fish, Laws, and Chefs

September 21, 2015

In a sobering report, the WWF and the Zoological Society of London found that numbers of the scombridae family of fish, which includes tuna and mackerel, fell by a catastrophic 74% between 1970 and 2012, outstripping a decline of 49% for 1,234 ocean species over the same period. They warn that we face losing species critical to human food security, unless drastic action is taken to halt overfishing and other threats to marine life. However, WWF’s Living Blue Planet Report does find that much of the activity threatening the ocean is avoidable and solutions do exist to turn the tide.

Scientists and fishermen have reported more unusual species in Alaska waters, likely because of warming sea surface temperatures. An Alaska research organization has created an online clearinghouse of all the news and research related to the anomaly called The Blob.

Water temperatures in Long Island Sound have increased by about 1 degree per decade for the past 40 years. The trend has triggered a major shift in species that now thrive there. Studies show populations of traditional cold-water species, like lobster and winter flounder, have declined dramatically since the late 1990s. At the same time, fish that like warmer waters, including fluke and black sea bass, appear to be flourishing off the shores of southern New England. "The climate is changing," said Bobby Guzzo, a commercial fisherman who operates two boats out of Stonington, CT "and so are the fish."

The New Yorker Magazine ran an insightful piece on how climate change has affected McDonald’s view of Maine Lobsters. “The Gulf of Maine is a highly simplified and arguably domesticated ecosystem,” Steneck, a marine ecologist with the University of Maine, explained. “If you put it that way, are you surprised that we have McLobsters?”

Sea to Table's Michael Dimin speaking at San Francisco's Sustainable Seafood Week

Fisherman/poet Rob Seitz of Morro Bay, CA reading a poem last Tuesday about his grandfather at the Industry Event at SSW SF (he was awesome).

In an alarming trend, fish farming is becoming more and more like industrial meat production.  Big Agriculture Becomes Big Aquaculture discusses how the same industrial giants dominating land farming are striving to dominate fish farming.

With 90% of all seafood consumed in the US coming from outside the US, and more than 50% coming from fish farms, we must pay more attention. The FDA reported refusing a total of 207 imported seafood entry lines last month. Of these, 72 (35%) were of shrimp entry lines refused for reasons related to banned antibiotics. This is the highest number ever recorded.

U.S. Sens. Mark Warner, Barbara Mikulski, Tim Kaine and U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman are urging President Barack Obama to protect the seafood industry by strengthening efforts to prevent seafood fraud. Several lawmakers have also begun trying to address the problem of seafood slavery. Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, proposed legislation in August aimed at increasing transparency and accountability in corporate supply chains.  Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of New York, who introduced similar legislation in the House,  sent a letter last week to NOAA, urging the agency to focus not just on illegal fishing but also on preventing “trafficking and slavery in the fishing industry.”

Plate Magazine announced their 2015 “Chefs to Watch” list, and it includes half a dozen Sea to Table chef friends. A shout out to: David Barzelay at San Francisco’s Lazy Bear, Trevor Kunk at St. Helena’s Press, Andy Hollyday at Detroit’s Selden Standard, Michael Fojtasek/Grae Nonas at Austin’s Olamaie, and Bruce Kalman at Pasadena’s Union. Azula put out a list of 10 Super Sexy Chefs Who’ll Make You Want To Eat Sustainably. At least three of them are Sea to Table devotees (in baseball, batting .300 ain't bad). And Forequarter’s Jonny Hunter adorns Madison Magazine cover as 2015 Chef of the Year. According to Sea to Table’s Lindsay Haas “I mean, he's pretty much the coolest guy ever.”

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


Tudors and tuna pirates

September 15, 2015

Fish served on the dinner tables of Tudor England could have been caught more than 2,000 miles away off the coast of North America, new research has revealed. DNA tests on the bones of cod provisions stored on the doomed warship the Mary Rose reveal that some came from the other side of the pond. Over 400 sailors went down on the flagship of Henry VIII’s fleet when it was sunk in a battle with the French fleet in 1545. According to Cambridge’s Dr. James Barret, “‘The need for fish stocks was an important driver of involvement in north-eastern North America. The fish trade was one of the key links in the causal chain of European expansion to that continent.”

Jump ahead almost 500 years as last week Greenpeace uncovered a pirate fishing operation in waters near Papau New Guinea after spotting a Taiwanese ship that allegedly had 75kg of illegally caught shark fins and irregularities in its tuna catch logbook. The group said similar cases were the “tip of the iceberg” of pirate fishing which had driven a sharp decline in tuna populations. A decade ago I personally observed a Taiwanese tuna fleet based in the port of Sea Lots near Port of Spain, Trinidad that was “leased” from the Trini government. Dozens of industrial fishing vessels were illegally harvesting from one of earth’s great tuna nurseries located about 200 miles southeast of Trinidad, sending millions of pounds of tuna back to Asia. Without real international cooperation we cannot stop the pirates.

DNA tests on the bones of cod provisions stored on Henry VIII’s doomed warship the Mary Rose reveal that some came from as far away as the New World

Aerial view of the Chinese pirate vessel Lian Run 14 prior its arrest for fishing illegally inside the Guinean Exclusive Economy Zone EEZ.
(Photo Credit: Greenpeace)

After a slow start, this year’s Bristol Bay sockeye run totaled 58 million salmon. That makes 2015 a near-record-setting year, says Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Tim Sands. “It’s second out of the last 20 years – the only one that beat it was 1995 – and it’s the third-largest run of all time.” 

We have begun working in partnership with the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen's Alliance to spread the good word about dogfish. They are both delicious and abundant, simply needing a good market. Fishermen can catch them all day, but cannot sell them at a price good enough to make ends meet. Sea to Table wants everyone to try dogfish. They are a winner for the diner’s palate, the health of New England fishing communities, the sustainability of fish stocks, and last but not least, for the chef’s wallet. Find out why dogfish is the fish of choice for fish and chips in the UK.

Petrale Sole landed in Morro Bay, CA, sent overnight to Colorado

Petrale Sole prepared and served at Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, CO

Paul Greenberg published a good story of how Sea to Table helped him serve a redefined New England seafood dinner to his friends on Maine’s Deer Isle. We also want to pay tribute to Mark Bittman’s important role in changing the conversation about food over the past two decades. He published his farewell column in this Sunday’s NY Times, and is about to enter the world of commerce, joining the fight on the ground for a better food system. We wish him great success.

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

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