Tag Archives: fishing

Selling Our Fish…and our future…

Oyster farming in New Orleans

Oyster farming in New Orleans

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.

Alaskan Cod Fishermen

Alaskan Cod Fishermen

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…”

Oyster fisherman

Oyster harvesting

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.

Now the South China Sea is under fishing siege by China's over-reaching claim to its waters

Now the South China Sea is under fishing siege by China’s over-reaching claim to its waters


Let them Eat Oysters, and preserve the Planet!

Drakes Bay Oyster Company, photograph by Kim Steele

From Photographer & Publisher…Kim Steele

I have been a passionate aquaculture conservationist for years, having grown up in Seattle. I grew up at Oyster Bars with my Dad, and developed a life long passion for crabs — which I have eaten world-wide!  A recent meeting with former Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, was a disappointing end to the life of a vital oyster farm (Drakes Bay Oyster Company) in Inverness, CA. Fortunately, Secretary Salazar’s decision against renewing the lease of Drake’s Bay Oyster Company is not the full voice of sentiment around the world. The Ninth Circuit just stayed the order for the time being!!  And we have hopefully a more enlightened Secretary, Sally Jewell, the ex-CEO of REI! The post below is keeping the embers glowing.

Drake’s Bay Oyster Company, photograph by Kim Steele

The body of my work dedicated to this subject takes many different forms, written and photographic:

Kim Steele’s Green Blog

Pickleweed Oyster Farm

                               Fresh Fish, Chile, Photograph by Kim Steele

Catch of the Day, Seafood Market, Chile, photograph by Kim Steele

We have already experienced many closures of fisheries. The abundant backbone of the Northeastern U.S. fisheries, the almighty Cod is albeit gone. Several years of cessation of Dungeness Crab catching in Northern California have become necessary. The once abundant Salmon in the Northwest is almost gone, and the cost of wild salmon reaches $25 a pound, all destined for the fancy restaurants back East.  How much more warning do we need?  Yes… fishermen are hurting, but over-fishing brought this pain about.

The tuning fork that is the  Monterrey Bay Aquarium’slist of sustainable fish is a bellwether of what we can comfortably consume…they even offer a wallet-sized card to give gastronomic guidance in the field!

Baycrete Mixture

                                      Oyster Shells, photograph by Kim Steele