Following up on last week’s news, New Bedford fish mogul Carlos “The Codfather” Rafael was released from Federal custody on $1MM bail to await trial. Court documents identified his co-conspirator buyer as Michael Peretti of South Street Seafood in NY’s Fulton Fish Market, who brags of other such relationships. This sad story speaks volumes about our broken seafood supply chain.
Another troubling story swirls around the destruction of Arctic fishing grounds opening to industrial fishing by receding ice in warming waters. Russia is claiming natural resource rights all the way to the North Pole. China is literally building islands in the South China Sea to claim fishing rights, and this week the U.S. Navy sent a carrier group to the area to clearly describe our concern. However there is a growing consensus among major fishing nations that better fisheries management in international waters is in our common interest.
The growing worldwide demand for protein is rightly focused on fish as a healthier and more sustainable option to meat. While the aquaculture industry is growing and improving on its manufacturing techniques, it is a system based on all the same principles as the industrial meat system. We are of a mind that if properly respected and managed, the ocean is a far better manufacturer of fish than man. With proper international cooperation, the ocean could dramatically increase harvestable fish populations.
The building block to increasing seafood in the ocean is forage fish. They need protection. The Peruvian Anchoveta is a result of the greatest upwelling of life on our planet, feeding on krill from the Southern Ocean, with up to 8 million tons of anchovies harvested off the coast of South America each year, almost entirely for fish meal. Herring and sardines are hard to find in California, just as chefs and diners discover what Pacific pelagic fish already know; they are delicious. In the Chesapeake Bay, Omega Protein extracts over 400 million pounds of menhaden each year for fertilizer, pet food, and fish oil. We need to let forage fish feed the ecosystem.
When ecosystems are allowed to flourish, we end up with miracles like Bristol Bay Alaska’s salmon run of observed by drones in this video. And if we would take care of baby fish like these cuttlefish moms do, everyone prospers.
All the best,
from the Dimin Family and the Sea to Table team