Jes Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman magazine and NationalFisherman.com.
Thursday, 19 August 2010
JHathaway2 If there's one thing the gulf oil spill can stand to teach the American public it's that a lot of seafood is specific and precious to the region in which it's caught.
I was walking between work and my car one evening this week when I got slowed down behind a touristy couple wandering somewhat aimlessly through the streets of downtown Portland, Maine. We see a lot of tourists this time of year, so I was not a bit surprised to be waylaid.
What I overheard is another story. The woman was on the phone apparently with a restaurant asking if they serve any salmon dishes.
First of all, you must really love or have a hankering (or doctor's orders, perhaps) for some salmon to be calling around to restaurants out of town inquiring about one ingredient on their menu.
Had she been asking about scallops, Maine shrimp, haddock, cod or even wild blueberries, I would have smiled and walked on. Perhaps even given a recommendation.
But all I could think was this woman was calling around to practically ensure she was going to get a slab of anemic farmed salmon for supper.
Had she asked about wild salmon, I would have understood. But I still would have wondered why she wouldn't take this opportunity of being in a Northeast fishing port to enjoy some fruit of the North Atlantic.
I love wild salmon. Don't get me wrong. I've had it on both coasts, and it's delicious everywhere.
But I live in a town full of chefs who pride themselves on gathering local produce, meats and seafood to the delight of tourists and locals alike.
And yet I find it hard to believe anyone would be calling around to restaurants asking if they had some Roundup-Ready corn or mass-market tomatoes.
The problem is marketing, plain and simple.
I'm going to guess this couple knows fish is good for them. And they have heard that salmon has lots of Omega-3s. What they haven't heard is that the best source of all that good stuff is wild salmon, not farmed.
Americans are clamoring for fish, and some even know their local species and what's fresh year-round. But if we want to preserve local fishing communities and the unique offerings of wild fisheries, we must educate the public.
If not, we are destined to drown in a sea of tilapia and Asian shrimp.
So while you are yielding to the call to support Gulf Coast fishermen by buying southern shrimp, don't forget to send out a call for your own local fisheries.
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