Sustainable seafood? Maybe not…

I spent much of this weekend talking with science writer Erik Vance and other friends about Erik’s recent article and radio interview:

Here’s what I was most struck by:

  1. Erik’s discovery of what he calls “eco-fibs” in high-end restaurants: when the description of how, where and by whom a certain fish on the menu was caught is patently false.  It’s problematic but somewhat understandable when a restaurant and a diner differ on how to define a sustainably caught fish, but it’s entirely another to give specific information about the fish that is just not true.
  2. The fish seasonality chart.  Many gourmet chefs and diners have gotten used to the idea of eating fruits and vegetables according to when they are in season locally, but who ever thought of doing the same with fish?
  3. The graphic depiction of different types of fishing methods: longlines, bottom trawlers, Scottish seines, rod and reel.  There can’t be that many people who really know what these mean, and the chart makes it nice and clear.
  4. Erik’s description of many modern fishing methods as comparable to “aquatic slash and burn.”  Yikes!

I hope Mr. Vance writes more on this topic!  I, for one, would like to hear his “fish” take on some of the debates going on in sustainable agriculture movement.  How d0 we link individual purchasing choices by restaurants and consumers to larger policy battles that regulate the way we eat?  Is there some kind of oceans equivalent of the Farm Bill, for example?

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