I have watched the dwindling of the fisheries for many years. Spending many years on the Eastern Seaboard, especially New England, I witnessed the exhaustion of cod, and the almost decimation of the famed Maine Lobsters. Trying to be responsible, according to the Monterrey Bay Aquarium ‘approved list’ is a challenge. This recent OpEd in the New York Times, by Paul Greenburg (author of the forthcoming book, American Catch: The Fight for Our Local Seafood) speaks to one of my heartfelt concerns, and an issue for the future of our fisheries environmental sustainability, and the American economy. I am Seattle boy, a fisherman, an oyster farmer, and an environmental activist. I play by the rules, only take what I can eat, throw back the undersized, update my fishing license regularly. We recently saw the movie, The Grand Seduction, which was charming, and would have been funny except for the premise–a town that goes to great lengths to seduce a physician into relocating to a small hamlet in Newfoundland, as all residents are on welfare due to a cod fishing ban…all in order to attract a petrochemical waste recycling plant which would employ the residents, the town needs a resident physician.
The state of fishing affairs goes right to my heart. I urge all to read the OpEd via the link below, to read the book, and to post any comments about this subject.
From The New York Times:
“In 1982 a Chinese aquaculture scientist named Fusui Zhang journeyed to Martha’s Vineyard in search of scallops. The New England bay scallop had recently been domesticated, and Dr. Zhang thought the Vineyard-grown shellfish might do well in China. After a visit to Lagoon Pond in Tisbury, he boxed up 120 scallops and spirited them away to his lab in Qingdao. During the journey 94 died. But 26 thrived. Thanks to them, today China now grows millions of dollars of New England bay scallops, a significant portion of which are exported back to the United States.”
“As go scallops, so goes the nation. According to the National Marine Fisheries Service, even though the United States controls more ocean than any other country, 86 percent of the seafood we consume is imported.”
“But it’s much fishier than that: While a majority of the seafood Americans eat is foreign, a third of what Americans catch is sold to foreigners.”
“The seafood industry, it turns out, is a great example of the swaps, delete-and-replace maneuvers and other mechanisms that define so much of the outsourced American economy; you can find similar, seemingly inefficient phenomena in everything from textiles to technology. The difference with seafood, though, is that we’re talking about the destruction and outsourcing of the very ecological infrastructure that underpins the health of our coasts. Let’s walk through these illogical arrangements, course by course…”
I have heard it said that all natural fisheries will be extinct by 2050. No wild fish. This has already happened to many common species, like wild salmon on the West Coast. It earns a very high premium due to it’s rareness and flavor. Mr. Greenburg’s OpEd piece is well worth the read, especially the financial machinations of the produce being fished and shipped back and forth. The loss of favor seems to be the future for many of the foods we take for granted, such as the tomato.