Jes Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman magazine and NationalFisherman.com.
Written by Jes Hathaway
January 13, 2016
A lot of people are afraid to eat cod these days because they have heard about the loss of historic cod stocks in New England and Newfoundland. Cod is abundant in other areas, is coming back to Newfoundland and is being managed for a rebound in New England (if water temperatures will abide). The beauty of American fisheries is that they are all managed for sustainability. You can rest assured that any American cod you buy is only on the market because the stock can support the commercial fishery (even if the fishery is extremely limited, as is the case in New England), not because the market demands it.
I love Northeast cod, and I still buy it here in Maine. But abundant Alaska cod stocks have brought high-quality Pacific cod to markets all over the country at a great price. If you see FAS or frozen-at-sea on the label, fear not! Today’s onboard processing allows fishing fleets to fillet and flash freeze the catch fresh out of the water, making for a market product that’s the next best thing to catching it yourself.
My husband and I discovered this stew (pronounced Mo-Keh-Kah) a few years ago, and it quickly became a household favorite. We’ve played around with many recipes, which is easy to do with any stew. When you toss good ingredients into a pot and simmer, you’re likely to come out with something delicious. I used P-cod this time, but it would be delicious with swordfish, haddock, snapper, tuna or cape shark (dogfish).
My only universal soup rule is to garnish with spice and acid — vinegar, lime or lemon juice, or a vinegar-based hot sauce. This soup is delicious with a fresh chili pepper and lime.
I serve this over rice and with gluten-free Brazilian cheese popovers (recipe to follow).
2.5 pounds firm fish (I used Pacific cod) cut into 2- or 3-inch pieces
1/4 cup lime juice
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 green pepper, roughly chopped
5 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons paprika
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne (or to taste)
2 cups paste tomatoes, seeded, roughly chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2/3 bunch of cilantro, stems and all
2 red or orange bell peppers, in bite-size pieces
1 sweet onion, cut lengthwise into slivers
4 paste tomatoes, in bite-size pieces
1-2 cups fish or chicken stock
1 can coconut milk
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 dash fish sauce
Optional garnishes: smoked paprika, capers, chopped cilantro, fresh chili peppers and lime
Salt the fish, marinate in lime juice before beginning the rest, set aside, stirring occasionally.
Purée the base in a food processor. Sauté in medium soup pot (I used a 5.5-quart Dutch oven) for about 10 minutes, mainly to cook the onion.
Once the base is sautéed, add the peppers and onions, and just enough stock to cover. Simmer 5 minutes.
Add the marinated fish with lime juice, tomatoes, and coconut milk. Return to a boil, and simmer until fish is cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes. (The fish does not need to be covered in broth; it can sit on top and steam.)
Season to taste and serve over rice and with Brazilian cheese popovers.
Brazilian Cheese Popovers (Pão de Queijo)
1/3 cup regular olive oil or vegetable oil
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup grated cheese (Monterey Jack, muenster, queso fresco, cheddar, chèvre or feta)
2 cups tapioca flour
1 teaspoon salt
Optional: diced chives, rosemary, garlic scapes or herbs of your choice
Heat oven to 400. Combine ingredients in a blender and pour into a greased muffin tin, filling about 3/4 full. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.
Written by Jes Hathaway
January 6, 2016
It’s the new year, and for many of us, that means an end to the consumption of butter-infused holiday foods that began at Thanksgiving. I try new salad recipes year-round. This one was born out of my love of fresh rolls and my frustration with rice paper wrappers. I was determined to get all the flavors of a spring roll deconstructed in a salad.
This meal is also a celebration of the sustainable, humane and diverse Gulf of Mexico wild shrimp fishery. The fishery supports many Vietnamese-American shrimping families, as well as historic local fishing families. I hope this recipe honors the diversity of the fishery, using wild American shrimp in a twist on a traditional Vietnamese spring roll, which are appropriately called salad rolls in some parts of Vietnam and nime chow (“nim chow”) in Cambodia.
For a dressing, I like a sweet and sour spring roll dipping sauce topped with Makoto ginger dressing (in the produce section of the grocery store), or a peanut dressing (recipes to follow).
1 pound (fresh or frozen) thawed, peeled and deveined wild Gulf of Mexico shrimp
3 ounces (dry) thin rice noodles, prepared according to instructions and tossed lightly in rice vinegar
1 medium head Napa cabbage, shredded
1 head Boston, butterhead, romaine or iceberg lettuce, shredded
3 medium carrots, julienned or shredded
2 pickling cucumbers (or half of one large Euro cuke), julienned
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 cups mung bean sprouts, rinsed well
6 scallions, diced
1 bunch Thai basil, chopped
1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
1 small bunch mint, chopped (use the herbs to taste — the more the better for me)
Optional garnishes: chopped peanuts, 2 thinly sliced fresh serrano chiles and chow mein noodles
Prepare the shrimp however your diet allows: sauté over medium heat in 2-3 tablespoons of butter (2-3 minutes per side), steam or brush with olive oil and grill. The key is to cook until just cooked through. They should be barely translucent at the edges, not solid white and rubbery.
Divide the ingredients evenly, starting with the shredded cabbage and lettuce. Top with the noodles (chopped roughly or left long), vegetables, herbs and your choice of dressing.
Sweet and Sour Dressing
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons hot water
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon chili paste (like sambal or sriracha)
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped unsalted roasted peanuts
Combine the first two ingredients and stir to dissolve sugar. Add remaining ingredients, stir and chill.
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons peanut butter (texture your preference)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
2 teaspoons chili paste (like sambal or sriracha)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Combine ingredients in a small food processor, blender or whisk by hand.
Written by Jes Hathaway
December 15, 2015
It’s been almost a month since the Food and Drug Administration approved the sale of genetically modified salmon in the United States.
What they didn’t (and can’t) approve is the legality of raising so-called Frankenfish on U.S. soil. That is up to U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and they don’t seem eager to take up the decision. Right now, the fish can only be grown in land-based tanks in Panama.
What makes this engineered fish different is that it’s a traditional farmed species — Atlantic salmon — with a couple of genetic splices to include a size-knows-no-bounds gene from the king (or chinook) salmon and a cold-water-growth-promoter gene from the eel-like ocean pout. That’s a powerful combination. It means that the fish will grow at a fast rate year-round, as the ocean pout gene is what prevents the salmon’s natural growth inhibitor from triggering during colder months.
Assuming all goes as planned and the fish are only ever bred in captivity (AquaBounty promises all of their product will be sterile females), then the only harm this fish can do is the unknown effect of this gene manipulation on the consumer of the end product and the possibly deleterious effects on the market for non-GMO salmon. Because there is no requirement to label GMO salmon as such, producers of wild and farmed salmon worry that consumers will avoid salmon altogether in order to avoid Frankenfish.
Some proponents (or at least non-opponents) are hanging their hats on the fact that the genetic manipulation of Atlantic salmon to enable it to grow at twice the normal rate allows these fish to be raised in tanks as opposed to open net pens, where salmon production creates dead zones of ocean bottom.
While I would love to see finfish farming technology take us beyond a world of dead zones, anemia, sea lice and any other insidious byproduct of ocean finfish aquaculture, the “advancement” still makes me wonder why we need this manipulated salmon.
Nina Fedoroff’s op-ed for the New York Times was supposed to be reassuring but didn't do much to put me at ease. She talks about the ecological advantage of these tank-raised fish living in recirculated water. I have a hard time not envisioning the recirculated air on long flights that almost always results in a hacking cough.
She also promotes the joys of finally eating salmon guilt-free because “wild salmon populations have long been in deep trouble because of overfishing.” Yes, some. But wild salmon is far from the verge of extinction.
Alaska has had back to back epic years of salmon runs. The state’s cold storage facilities are absolutely bursting with delicious, healthy and healthful wild salmon in a vast range of product forms. Well-managed wild salmon is the only guilt-free salmon. Shouldn’t we be focusing our energy on sustaining and rebuilding wild runs of salmon? Those efforts would create more jobs, more food and a cleaner environment. And yet, someone feels compelled instead to bring this newfangled overseas-tank-raised substitute to market — and faster.
It reminds me of that joke from Annie Hall about the two old folks at a restaurant. One complains that the food is just terrible and the other says, “Yeah, I know. And such small portions!” Well one thing is sure, the king-size Frankenfish will not come in small portions. The rest of its story is yet to be determined.
Written by Jes Hathaway
December 9, 2015
An editorial this week in the Tallahassee (Fla.) Democrat by state legislators Sen. Thad Altman and Rep. Frank Artiles continues to wave the flag for state management of the Gulf Coast red snapper fishery.
In the editorial, the writers laud the successful state management of spotted sea trout, flounder, sheepshead, tarpon and redfish.
“The fishery examples that Senator Altman and Representative Artiles use are misleading and have nothing to do with healthy, well-managed federal commercial fisheries,” says commercial fisherman Bill Tucker of the F/V Wing Shot in Dunedin, Fla.
“They don't give us any examples of highly political, well-managed federal commercial fisheries managed by the Gulf states because they've all been drastically reduced or completely eliminated. So tell me why does a state senator from a district on the Atlantic Ocean and a state representative from a landlocked district really think they know better than commercial red snapper fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico?”
Among commercial fishermen, the top concern about splitting the gulfwide red snapper fishery between the Gulf Coast states is not about putting the fishery in more or less capable hands, it’s about retaining the commercial fleet’s long-term access.
The Coastal Conservation Association and its allies have made their agenda crystal clear — take quota from the commercial fishermen (and wild, healthy fish from the American consumer) and give it to the recreational sector.
Let’s look at a brief history of the fishery.
The biomass was depleted, and no sector was getting much. The commercial fleet underwent severe attrition as a result of IFQs. Many boat owners were shut out of the fishery, and many other crew members lost their jobs.
However, under this new management system — combined with restrictions on recreational interests based on the prior year’s landings — the fishery has been rebuilt to abundance. The commercial fleet has been granted 51 percent of the quota with 49 going to sport fishing. The tide keeps rising, and there’s more fish all the time.
Last year, the CCA made a significant push to give 75 percent of the quota over a certain threshold to recreational fishermen.
That means commercial fishermen would have their red snapper dividend checks cut in half after making the necessary sacrifices to rebuild their fishery.
The message being: If you do the hard work, someone will come along to lay a heavy tax on your earnings. But don’t worry, they’ll have a lovely vacation in Florida.
Only now the message is even worse: If you do the hard work, enough recreational fishermen will be interested enough to take it all away from you under the auspices of state management.
We already hear a lot about species substitution when it comes to red snapper, but that won’t be a topic of discussion if the fish is reserved for sport fishing. How long will it be before any or all of the Gulf Coast states opt to designate red snapper a gamefish?
I’d rather not find out.
Written by Jes Hathaway
November 12, 2015
Every year the National Fisherman staff is honored to welcome a new class of Highliner award winners with a tradition that started in 1976.
This year, we celebrate inductees from the West Coast and Alaska — John F. Gruver of United Catcher Boats (Puyallup, Wash.), Kathy Hansen of the Southeast Alaska Fishermen’s Alliance (Douglas, Alaska), and Jeremiah O’Brien of the Morro Bay Commercial Fishermen’s Organization (Morro Bay, Calif.).
Gruver worked his way up from the deck to the wheelhouse of the Bering Sea pollock trawler F/V Sea Wolf in the 1980s. He stepped away from the wheelhouse in 1999 and took up networking — both figuratively, as the Catcher-Vessel Intercooperative Manager for United Catcher Boats, and literally, as a designer of the game-changing king salmon excluder net for the Bering Sea pollock fleet.
Hansen runs the drift gillnetter F/V Ocean Gold out of Juneau, Alaska, with her husband, Ed, and is the executive director and a founder of the Southeast Alaska Fishermen’s Alliance. Kathy has worked in many fisheries in Alaska and Washington, and is known for her efforts to see all sides of fisheries issues and find the solution that works best for the most users.
O’Brien is a displaced New Englander who trolls for West Coast albacore on the 48-foot F/V Aguero out of Morro Bay, Calif., which is his version of retirement after having fished everything from shark to sea bass and even diving for abalone and urchins. He served 10 years as the president of the Morro Bay Commercial Fishermen’s Organization and now sits on the board of directors.
These Highliners uphold a standard of excellence in their advocacy of the fishing industry, and we are proud to recognize their dedication.
Written by Jes Hathaway
November 12, 2015
Chix Who Fish started in 2013 as a social media experiment to raise awareness about the lack of foul weather gear designed for women.
It has grown into a large community of women from multiple backgrounds, including various fisheries and regions, who advocate for women working in the commercial fishing and seafood industries and now includes a public community on Facebook, a blog and a partnership with Grundéns in developing its new line of gear cut for women.
I am proud to be hosting a Pacific Marine Expo panel of some of the founders of this group, as well as two representatives from Grundéns USA, who will be displaying their new foul-weather gear, called Sedna. One lucky audience member will win a set of gear at the close of the panel.
We will discuss the origin and future of the group, as well as its members’ collaboration with Grundéns in developing and testing its new designs. Join us at 3:15, Wednesday, Nov. 18 at the Expo’s main keynote stage in the East Hall (near the beer garden and the Fisherman’s Lounge).
Panelists will be:
Genevieve McDonald, founder of Chix Who Fish and captain of the Maine lobster boat Hello Darlin’ II
Claire Neaton, co-founder of Salmon Sisters and Alaska commercial fisherman
Nelly Hand, co-owner of Drifters Fish, salmon gillnetter out of Cordova, Alaska, on the Pelican
Kate Consenstein, owner of Rising Tide Communications, a consulting business that specializes in seafood, ocean and lifestyle brand opportunities. Kate grew up crewing for her dad at the family setnet site in Kodiak.
Mike Jackson, president of Grundéns USA, former Bering Sea crab fisherman
Eric Tietje, designer of the Grundéns Sedna lineAdd a comment
Written by Jes Hathaway
November 11, 2015
For almost half a century, Pacific Marine Expo has been your place to meet. Every year, fishermen, boatbuilders, marine suppliers, harbormasters, surveyors, naval architects, Coast Guardsmen, biologists, association leaders and yes, even politicians convene in Seattle for the work and play that go hand in hand with the Expo and all things maritime.
You come with a few lists — what to buy, questions to ask, meetings to attend, people to catch up with (and maybe even a few people you’d rather not bump into) — but you leave with so much more.
That’s because the heart of the Expo is not the space it’s in but the people and ideas that fill the space.
Our opening day on Wednesday, Nov. 18, has lots of treats in store. Our keynote speaker is Keith Colburn, captain of the Bering Sea crab boat Wizard and star of "Deadliest Catch." We'll also get a peek at innovations like the new Sedna line from Grundéns at the Chix Who Fish panel at 3:15 in the keynote area of the East Hall and new techniques for fiberglass sponsoning at 2:15, courtesy of Bruce Bryant of Platypus Marine. That's just the first day, and there's so much more. Visit www.pacificmarineexpo.com for details.
Join us at the ZF Marine happy hour Wednesday and Thursday at 4 p.m. and Friday at 2 to toast to the best year yet.Add a comment
Written by Jes Hathaway
November 2, 2015
Last week, Oceana released yet another well-publicized report alleging widespread fish fraud (New Oceana study reveals scary news about America’s favorite fish). This time, the target was wild salmon and the big headlines heralded 48 percent mislabeling.
The “study” took a total of 466 samples in two separate surveys between 2012 and 2014. That’s an average of 233 samples per survey from grocery stores and restaurants. If they were split evenly between the two markets, then each survey sampled about 100 restaurants and 100 grocery stores. According to the Food Marketing Institute, there were 37,716 supermarkets with more than $2 million in annual sales in 2014, so that’s only the large retailers, which makes Oceana’s sample size 0.2 percent and 0.01 percent of the 1 million restaurants in the country.
Statistically speaking, this is nowhere near an adequate sample size. The reason number crunchers like a representative sample is because without a wide enough range, it’s easy for the samplers to target retailers (intentionally or not) who might be more likely to mislabel. For example, outlets in poorer neighborhoods where consistent staffing might more difficult or in areas where English is not the first language.
Oceana claims that off-season (winter) restaurant salmon samples were mislabeled as much as 48 percent of the time. However, that doesn’t mean 48 percent of the salmon labeled as wild was actually farmed. To get to their 48 percent figure, Oceana included one type of wild salmon labeled as another type of wild salmon. So the error of selling wild silver under the name wild king was lumped in with the substitution of farmed for wild. Because most of the mislabeling happened in the off season, Oceana advises that the best way to improve your chances of being served authentically wild salmon is to eat it in season. But I disagree.
I know other food segments deal with these kinds of reports — how often are Kobe and grass-fed beef replaced with cheaper substitutes? But the biggest hurdle we face in the seafood business is that Americans are already a little intimidated by seafood. There are so many kinds, different cuts, different seasons. How does one choose? And many are intimidated about preparation, as well.
So when big reports come out with words like “scary” in the title (is it really frightening to get farmed salmon vs. wild every once in a while? I’m no big fan of farmed salmon, but I’m not afraid of it), they do little to build already flagging consumer confidence.
I realize Oceana is just doing its duty. As an NGO, they are compelled to make big splashy campaigns to get eyes on paper and raise money so they can keep making big splashy campaigns. But as an advocate for the industry, I can’t ignore a report that does little to further consumer education.
Look at what farm-to-table menus and farmers markets have done for our cultural culinary aptitude. We are regularly eating food that would have been considered bizarre just a few years ago. If kale can be a massive consumer hit, wild salmon should be sold out in every possible application — fresh, frozen, canned and smoked.
To add insult to injury, Oceana published the report during national seafood month. Not exactly a celebratory moment.
One point on which I wholeheartedly agree with Oceana is that the first way to prevent from being duped is to ask questions about what you’re buying. I ask a lot of questions. I feel like it’s my duty to consumers who might not know what questions to ask. If the purveyors know you’re interested in the origins of your seafood, they might be more careful in labeling in the first place.
Read more about Oceana >>Add a comment
Written by Jes Hathaway
October 19, 2015
We had our first snow of the season here in Maine over the weekend. But in Hawaii, some fishermen are preparing for a different kind of sleigh ride.
The state’s unique volcanic geography makes for some of the best deep-sea nearshore fishing on the globe. A small group of fishermen are keeping a centuries-old tradition alive fishing for big-eye tuna, mahi-mahi, octopus and many more species with just a sea kayak, a pole and a dream of a big check.
I can’t say I’m surprised that the Discovery Channel is there to capture it all in a new series, “Pacific Warriors,” which premieres this Friday, Oct. 23. The show features several teams of fishermen, including veteran Kimi Werner, who kicks the danger level up to 11 by free-diving up to 150 feet to spear her catch, holding her breath for up to four minutes.
As you may have come to expect from the Discovery Channel, the production value for this show is not lacking. A fish-eye lens captures the isolation of a small kayak on the open ocean. Camera angles abound on every catch, as well as the bloodletting losses and consequential shark swarms.
The show tries to ramp up the excitement by creating a competition between teams. For my taste, there’s no need for another layer of competition in a fishery with monster catches, incredible scenery and minimal gear. The nature of the fishery is a competition between man and beast. That’s enough for me.
Most of the participants have some element of attitude that seems quintessentially Hawaiian. But otherwise, they are infinitely relatable as commercial fishermen.
In the words of Boogie D., the 48-year-old world record holder for the largest barracuda landed in a kayak, “I love the ocean. It’s not all about the money. It’s my soul.”
Written by Jes Hathaway
October 5, 2015
Once upon a time, fishermen and environmentalists butted heads, pretty much all the time. Then for the most part, both sides slowly realized they had some things in common. We all want clean water (and plenty of it), preserved fish habitats, better fishing gear, more efficient engines, and the list goes on.
We are now in an era in which the environmental movement and the fishing industry often work well together to achieve common goals. But there are some groups who have little interest in collaboration, or indeed even hearing what the other side has to say.
Last week, the fishing industry watchdog Saving Seafood made public what they say are the results of a Freedom of Information Act request to Maine’s governor’s office that showed the New England-based Conservation Law Foundation was working behind the scenes (including attempts to reach out to some Maine state officials) in the hopes of securing an East Coast marine monument designation through the Antiquities Act, which does not require democratic review. The emails indicated that the group hoped President Obama could announce the monument plan at the Our Ocean Conference in Valparaiso, Chile, (taking place this week) and that they hoped to be well under way in the process toward that designation before any potential opposition was aware of it enough “to fight it, to organize against it,” said CLF’s Interim President Peter Shelley, according to Environmental and Energy Publishing.
The email discussion took place in late August, shortly before the story broke in the mainstream press and NOAA agreed to hold a public meeting in response to industry angst over the potential designation. At the meeting, industry representatives made the point that designation of this monument will do nothing that fishery managers aren’t already doing with longstanding closures. But a unilateral, permanent closure of offshore waters has the potential to drive another wedge between environmental groups and the fishing industry. We don’t need more wedges; we need more work together.
In the emails made public, I noticed that the Conservation Law Foundation’s Shelley and Executive Vice President Sean Mahoney publicized fact sheets, a map and a list of supporters for the monument, but explicitly sought to keep economic data out of these communications.
Why did the CLF want to keep economic data separate from their conversations with prospective political supporters? Is it because there’s no economic justification for this monument? Or perhaps it’s because there’s an economic justification to avoid the designation. Shelley responded to some of my questions via email, saying that "there is a great deal of evidence suggesting that permanent protection benefits the local economy."
If that's the case, then I imagine the evidence would be well worth sharing. However, it seems to me that a permanent area closure is at the very least short-sighted, given the dramatic shifts in climate and species we have seen in recent years. The best advantage we have now to effectively manage fisheries and coastal economies is flexibility and the ability to respond quickly to these sudden and sometimes unpredictable changes. Permanent ocean closures seem about as effective as eliminating hurricane forecasts for the Gulf of Mexico simply because they haven't had a big storm there for several years. The weather, like fish populations, doesn't make permanent shifts.
Regardless of the economic or climatic data, the bottom line is that the closure of this area in perpetuity strips us of our ability as citizens to manage the area as a resource in the future.
Americans are sick and tired of petty political bickering. It is time to work together. It is time to leave the extremists on the fringes and make way for the majority of us in the middle to have an intelligent, respectful conversation. As stakeholders, it’s our job to demand that of everyone who steps into the fray, whether they speak for NGOs or for the fishing industry.
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