The United States has the world’s largest fishing grounds (EEZ) and a fisheries management system that is the envy of the world, yet more than 90% of all seafood consumed in the U.S. comes from outside the U.S. Fisheries worldwide are collapsing, are plagued by illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) practices, and are rampant with reports of human slavery. How can the seafood supply chain be so screwed up?
According to a new report, illegal fishing in the Pacific Ocean is costing more than $600 million a year and is mainly being carried out by legally licensed fishing vessels,. Human trafficking appears the norm in Thailand’s fish and shrimp industry. Last week Argentina’s Coast Guard sank a Chinese vessel for illegal fishing in their waters. Yet Americans continue to buy cheap seafood. In support of fish, fishermen, and traditional American fishing communities, we need to eat better fish.
In a bit of good news last week, the U.S. reversed policy and issued a ban on off-shore oil drilling in the Atlantic. “President Obama has taken a giant step for our oceans, for coastal economies and for mitigating climate change,” said Oceana’s Jacqueline Savitz. “This is a courageous decision that begins the shift to a new energy paradigm.”
Congress has a chance to lead toward a more comprehensive approach to fishery management when it reauthorizes the primary law that governs fishing in U.S. oceans, the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Salmon are the “poster fish” for this kind of approach because they are so closely attuned to environmental conditions.
West Coast fishery managers have already started to recognize that the fate of salmon depends on what’s happening in their surrounding environment. Although the proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay appears to be stalled, there is real concern about new proposed mines in British Columbia that could threaten the Taku River fishery.
The Taku runs north from BC, and empties near Juneau. This pristine river is home to all five species of salmon, a very rare blessing. We are pleased to have become friends with the Peterson and Hardcastle families who have been salmon fishing the Taku River for almost thirty years. They are meticulous fishers who pressure bleed and quick chill all their fish to produce a superior product. Beginning in May we will be shipping fresh salmon weekly, overnight from Juneau, starting with Kings and continue weekly shipment all the way to Cohos in October. We are encouraging chefs to look into this incredible program to bring pristine, fresh, wild salmon into their kitchens for almost 6 months a year.
It is a sure sign of Spring as halibut season opens in Alaska, and our first fish should land this week on the Kenai. And the trend of eating invasive species is finding its way across the pond as UK’s Guardian wrote a story about our friend Bun Lai and his Miami pop-up restaurant Prey. Kudos to Bun for really turning heads with his visionary cuisine.
All the best,
from the Dimin Family and the Sea to Table team