Tudors and tuna pirates – September 15, 2015

By September 15, 2015Uncategorized

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.

Before and after:
Petrale Sole landed in Morro Bay, CA, sent overnight to Colorado to be served at served at Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder

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