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Sundstrom's seared sea scallops recipe
There's a campaign underway to get leading restaurants in the U.S. to stop
serving some kinds of fish.
As this ScienCentral News video reports, both marine biologists and chefs themselves
are working together to give some fish a break.
The menu at Seattleâ€™s Earth
and Ocean Restaurant often features items ranging from Big Eye Tuna Carpaccio
to wild boar to truffle fries. But thereâ€™s one thing you wonâ€™t
find: Chilean Sea Bass. Executive chef Johnathan Sundstrom says even though
the fish is very popular with diners and that “they love the fattiness
of it, the juiciness of it”—heâ€™s taken the very popular
item off the menu.
Why deliberately take something off the menu that customers like?
Sundstrom is one of a growing number of chefs who have agreed to stop serving
Chilean Sea Bass because some marine biologists and several environmental
groups are concerned that the fish may not survive its newly found popularity.
The National Environmental
Trust claims more than a thousand chefs in the U.S. have joined their
a Pass on Chilean Sea Bass” campaign.
Also concerned about this fish, and others, are marine biologists at Californiaâ€™s
Monterey Bay Aquarium. Their “Seafood
Watch” program shows consumers three categories of seafood: best
choice, caution, and avoid. Chilean Sea Bass is one of 14 items that make
up the “avoid” category.
While different kinds of seafood are on the “avoid” list for different
reasons, Chilean Sea Bass—and another fish, Orange
Roughy—are listed because of the very nature of the fish. Deep-water
fish, according to the aquariumâ€™s senior marine biologist, Steven Webster,
are not good candidates for sustained fishing. He points out there are several
reasons for this: “They are very slow growing. They donâ€™t produce
many offspring each year. Theyâ€™re very late to mature.” That makes
it very easy to catch a fish before itâ€™s had a chance to reproduce.
The Chilean Sea Bass can live upwards of 40 years, while Orange Roughy can
live to be a hundred years old, or more. “Itâ€™s possible,”
says Webster, “that Orange Roughy filet on your plate was alive and
swimming the day Lincoln was shot.”
Deep-water commercial fishing is relatively new. According to Webster, “As
we have depleted…easily-accessed fisheries, fishermen are having to
go deeper and deeper to supply the seafood the public is demanding.”
Technological advances, says Webster, have helped fishermen trawl at depths
of 1,500 feet or “even deeper.”
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Governments have organized to limit how much fish can be taken, but poachers
have ignored those limits. A 24-country commission called The
Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources regulates
fishing within the Antarctic waters that Chilean Sea Bass call home. Countries,
including the United States, require that imports have documents showing they
were legally taken.
But that hasnâ€™t stopped poachers. In July 2002, special agents from the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Boston confiscated
33 tons of Chilean Sea Bass valued at about $275,000.
So, what has Sundstrom done for diners looking for the kinds of tastes provided
by Chilean Sea Bass? Heâ€™s found something called the Pacific Sea Bass
from the waters off Alaska. He notes it is similar in taste and nutrition
to Chilean Sea Bass.
Not everyone agrees with the idea of removing Chilean Sea Bass from restaurant
menus. NOAA points out the species is not “endangered.” Also,
The Center for Consumer
Freedom says removing Chilean Sea Bass is not necessary and a “conspiracy
that is all about marketing, not conservation.”