As warming waters change fish behaviors, it is critical for fishermen to adjust to the evolution. Studies from the Mid-Atlantic through New England show a steady northern migration of multiple species. Cod, the fish they named a Cape after, have decided the cooler water of Iceland and Greenland are a better place to live.
Atlantic Pollock has long played a role in New England’s fishing industry as a lower cost alternative, but the fish’s place in America’s oldest fishing communities is expanding as cod stocks fade. But the fish has an image problem. While cooking up firm and white, its uncooked gray-pinkish color looks drab compared to snow-white cod fillets. And many confuse it with the very different Alaska pollock, a distinct species which is the subject of a massive industrial fishery that provides fish for processed food products such as the McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish. Atlantic Pollock is fattier, more flavorful, a direct replacement for cod in virtually all recipes, and a favorite dinner of the men and women that catch them.
Scientists, including our friends at the GMRI, are developing new methods for fishermen to target certain species like pollock and haddock and avoid catching too many of the “choke species” like cod or yellowtail flounder. As soon as fishermen hit their catch limit for these choke species, they have to stop fishing altogether, even if they still have quota left for pollock or haddock. So to avoid catching too much cod or yellowtail (which have lower quotas) before they catch all the pollock and haddock (which have higher quotas) they can, they’ve implemented certain target methods based on the species behavioral patterns. When trawling, they’ll attach a board in the middle of the net, with tighter mesh above the board, and looser mesh below the board. When encountering the board, cod have a tendency to dive low, thereby passing through the net, while haddock have a tendency to swim above and over the board, getting caught in the tighter mesh. A winning strategy for the fishermen and the fish.
Kudos to Rafi Taherian and his Yale Dining Team for winning the Gold and Silver Plates from IFMA in what is considered the “Academy Awards” for foodservice. Sea to Table is very proud to be helping Yale students to eat better fish.
All the best,
from the Dimin Family and the Sea to Table team