The Huffington Post published an interesting piece on Atlantic Spiny Dogfish in the Gulf of Maine last week featuring none other than our own Sean Dimin. The Gulf of Maine is rising in temperature at an alarming rate, and as cod seek the colder waters off Greenland, dogfish populations are exploding. James Sulikowski, a biologist with the University of New England who studies the species, said there are 230,000 metric tons of spawning dogfish – females of reproductive age – in the Gulf of Maine (a nearly fivefold increase from 10 years ago), compared with only 10,000 metric tons of spawning cod. That’s a 23-to-1 ratio.
Northeast fishermen say they can’t drop a hook in the water without hitting a dogfish in the head. Mike Breton is a commercial fisherman from southern Maine with more than 30 years in the industry. “When we fish for tuna, we use live bait, or a chunk of bait, put that bait anywhere from 80 feet down in the water column, down to 200 feet, and over last several years our baits have been taken by the dogfish, so it was almost impossible to fish for tunas with that method,” he says.
MSC certified Dogfish is a mild, meaty white fish and quite delicious. It is the primary source for fish and chips in the UK, but the domestic market is tiny. Market prices are so low that fishermen can’t afford to fish them. Some very smart restaurateurs are realizing some real potential here. Michael Chernow, founder of NYC’s Meatball Shops, has a new hit on his hands with Seamore’s, a Lower East Side sensation exclusively serving underloved species. Dogfish tacos is a top seller. We would like to see more dogfish making more fishermen and more diners more happy.
When we think of Gulf of Mexico fish, we think grouper and snapper. They are magnificent fish, but there is an abundant and underloved species swimming throughout our southern waters. Mullet roe is famous for bottarga, but mullet are delicious fresh out of the water, and look to see them on menus in many smart restaurants this fall and winter.
Octopus continue to amaze those who study them. A just published paper shows Pacific Striped Octopus engaged in beak to beak mating. Just looking at some octopus is remarkable. But National Geograhic’s review of Sy Montgomery’s Soul of an Octopus, and their video of an octopus photographing school kids is off the charts.
All the best,
from the Dimin Family and the Sea to Table team