One of my classmates, Cathy Preston, is doing her master’s project on sustainable seafood. She wants to know what kind of seafood you consume and how you chose it. Take her 30-second survey here, and you’ll have both the satisfaction of helping a student to Save The World and a chance to win $25. All info will be kept confidential.
Yesterday, a twenty-pound lobster named George was paroled from his buttery fate in a New York restaurant and returned to the ocean. Since the MSNBC article wasn’t satisfying (much like lobster without drawn butter), I have transcribed the conversation I had with myself while chewing it over (much like the tough tail meat of aged lobsters).
Was George really 140 years old?
Maybe, but according to the Lobster Institute, there’s no way to tell for sure. Since lobster shells don’t have yearly rings (like trees or mussel shells), age is estimated based on weight. And since lobster growth rate varies with changes in the lobster’s environment, like water temperature or food quality, weight is a pretty inaccurate way to guess. George is old, but 140 years? Who knows?
Would George have been tasty?
I don’t care, I want a giant lobster! What good is an antiquated crustacean, anyway?
Giant old lobsters like George keep the entire population going. Like in Hollywood, big lobsters produce exponentially more sperm or eggs than little lobsters. For example, 5-lb female produces 14 times more eggs than a 1-lb female. And the large aged lobster ladies make better quality eggs, too, with more delicious fat to sustain the babies.
That’s why the US coastal lobster fishery has an upper size limit – to let those big lobsters keep on keepin’ on making more 1-1/2 lb. numminess. George was caught off Canada, where there’s no upper size limit. (There’s also no upper limit in the offshore US fishery).
Now I’m hungry. Where can I buy the best most sustainable happy lobster?
Massachusetts. Maine might be known for its lobster ranching, but the ropes on their lobster traps kill and entangle critically endangered right whales (and there’s only 350 of them left) each year. The Massachusetts fishery uses ropes that sink to the bottom and stay out of the whales’ way. Check out the New England Aquarium’s Right Whale blog for more.
Thanks to adamooo for the George article and Jives for the right whale blog!
Merry Christmas to those who are Christmas-ing! And for the rest of us…
The Marine Stewardship Council recently certified a Chilean sea bass fishery as sustainable. Can certain slow-growing deep sea fish can be harvested sustainably?
As part of the new Smithsonian webisode series “The Scientist is In”, Dr. Baldwin answered three questions on video, and mine was one of them! In short, she believes that the MSC certification of Chilean sea bass is legit, and that you can eat it without guilt.
Though I’m happy she responded to the question, I wish that she had provided more details. Is even the MSC-certified fishery sustainable in the long term? Do consumers have to worry about fish from non-sustainable fisheries being sold fradulantly under the MSC label? Does demand for the MSC-certified fish drive overfishing of unprotected fish?
To get Dr. Baldwin’s full answer, watch the video (with bonus sassy question from Mark Powell).
Foodies are uniting for sustainable seafood! On Sunday, the New York Times ran a column by Mark Bittman (of How to Cook Everything fame), calling for foodie-based fishing reform.
I suppose you might call me a wild-fish snob. I don’t want to go into a fish market on Cape Cod and find farm-raised salmon from Chile and mussels from Prince Edward Island instead of cod, monkfish or haddock. I don’t want to go to a restaurant in Miami and see farm-raised catfish from Vietnam on the menu but no grouper.
The only option then is to ask questions, whether at the fish counter or at the restaurant: what kind of fish is it, where does it come from, how was it farmed/caught?
Admittedly, this is not the easiest thing to do — especially in France, where vendors and waiters are known to get defensive, and where well-intentioned curiosity is occasionally met with a take-it-or-leave-it-mademoiselle attitude. The trick is to adopt just the right tone so as not to sound high-and-mighty, yet make it clear how important it is to you.
For the SoCal foodie crowd, San Diego has a brand-new sustainable seafood restaurant, Sea Rocket Bistro. Eric and I went there on Saturday night in order to do our part to save the oceans through desire – tasty, tasty desire. (San Diegans can check out Sea Rocket for free next Wednesday at the Slow Food Mixer.)