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.
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