The pundits of 2016 see four key issues to watch in sustainable seafood.
The first is seafood’s role on the changing dinner plate. Diners everywhere recognize that fish is the healthiest protein, and are becoming more adventurous in their ordering. The are reaching beyond shrimp, salmon, and tuna, finding love for many underloved species. Good news for fishermen, chefs and diners alike.
The second is human rights and social issues in the seafood supply chain. Numerous investigations have found piracy and slavery rampant in the seafood industry, especially in Asia. Thailand, the world’s third-largest seafood exporter, has become a focus of human rights problems in fisheries. We can all vote with our forks by sourcing seafood from traditional American fishing communities.
The third is a drive toward seafood traceability. We like to say “don’t buy fish from strangers”. Last week I had the pleasure of travelling the coast of Maine, visiting docks from Port Clyde, to Portland, to Saco and Kennebunkport. There I met with fishermen struggling with warming waters, lower quotas, and prices driven down by imports. These men and women hope the fishery will feed their children and grandchildren, and they deserve our support.
The fourth is defining sustainable seafood worldwide. A study performed by Professor James E. Griffin of Johnson and Wales University, surveyed 90 American chefs and 86 deemed seafood sustainability either “important” or “extremely important.” However, the survey found that chefs don’t always check if the seafood they order is sustainable. “I was really startled by the data on Asia. It held up across the study that chefs have a strong aversion to Asian seafood,” Griffin said, considering the fact that more than 90% of all seafood consumed in the US is imported, mostly from Asia.
Some good news on flatfish, as the Rhode Island fluke quota increased from 200 pounds to 3000 pounds per day boat, and it should be a busy week in Point Judith. And landings are up and prices down for fluke landing in Beaufort, NC. Fluke deserve some Valentine love.
The Stephens family has been processing shrimp on Florida’s west coast for generations, and Michael Stephens left Tampa’s sunshine for Brooklyn’s snow Friday to visit with the Sea to Table team and strategize how we can help folks to eat better shrimp. He told great stories of Gulf shrimpers, none better than that of Mr. Newton Murray who still comes to work at 100 years old. Mr. Murray never thinks of retiring. “Why would I?” he asks in a thick island accent. “As long as you still alive, you got to do something.” Amazing.
All the best,
from the Dimin Family and the Sea to Table team