But there used to be a lot more of them in the ocean. Wild oysters used to dominate New York Harbor and the Chesapeake. Some biologists estimate that the New York Harbor once contained half of the world’s oysters. In the Chesapeake, oyster reefs were so prominent they were a hazard to ships sailing the waters. Overfishing, pollution, and disease all but wiped them out in New York. In the Chesapeake, the wild oyster population is down to 1 percent of historic levels.
To ensure the survival of their species, oysters respond to this threat by ejaculating ungodly numbers of sperm and eggs into the water (where the gametes mix and form oyster embryos). Every season, an adult female oyster can produce 50 to 100 million eggs. Males produce so much sperm that it’s basically uncountable. “Sperm counts … certainly range into the tens of billions,” says researcher Stan Allen. “They are maybe the most fecund of species on the planet.” Almost all oysters start out their lives as male, but as they grow larger, many of them switch genders, and occasionally they can have both sex organs at the same time.
Oysters are filter feeders that each clean up to 50 gallons a day. They are healthy, sustainable, delicious, good for the planet, and good for you know what. The Billion Oyster Project has some ambitious plans for reclaiming New York Harbor to its former glory. Enjoy oysters.
Halfway around the globe, tensions are rising over illegal fishing. Filipino fishermen live in fear of “Chinese gunboats” that are providing cover to Chinese commercial fishing boats as they muscle into their traditional fishing grounds. Indonesian authorities on Tuesday blew up 23 foreign vessels that were captured for fishing illegally in the country’s waters, 13 from Vietnam and 10 from Malaysia. With the dual dreads of seafood slavery and IUU fishing, and more than 90% of all seafood consumed in the U.S. imported, American consumers need to be educated to eat better fish from traditional domestic fisheries.
It is only weeks until the first chinook returns to Alaska’s Taku River, beginning a five month run of pristine, wild fresh salmon. Watch this beautiful video made by our friends there.
Congratulations to our friends at the Yale Hospitality team for being awarded the Silver Plate for leading the nation’s best college foodservice operation. We are very proud to be part of that effort.
Edible recognized the LeClair family, fifth generation fishermen from Two Rivers, WI. We have been seeing many smiling midwestern faces from the Lake Michigan fish we have been sending from there.
The annual Chef’s Collaborative Summit begins today in NYC. “Good Food is Smart Business’’ is the theme, and we will be supporting the party with a Bristol Bay Smoked Sockeye breakfast with bagels, and an Underloved fish dinner. Sea to Table is also hosting a happy hour for our friends as the summit ends on Tuesday afternoon at our Brooklyn office. You are invited.
All the best,
from the Dimin Family and the Sea to Table team