The fish are back – at least many of them.
On the heels of a report by NOAA Fisheries in April that found the number of overfished species at an all-time low, the Environmental Defense Fund and restaurant industry groups kicked off a campaign yesterday to introduce consumers to a dozen fish from U.S waters that are now abundant thanks to smart fisheries management.
Many of the fish are not what consumers are used to eating, but Timothy Fitzgerald, director of impact for the EDF’s oceans program, says the effort is aimed at getting “the market to value what’s healthy in the ecosystem.” Making the fish more desirable increases demand and perhaps prices, which in turn helps support the livelihood of fishermen and the viability of their communities.
For example, in New England where the cod population was once so plentiful but now remains decimated, hake and pollock are similar species that haven’t been overfished. Fitzgerald says that nine out of 10 consumers wouldn’t be able to tell whether what was on their plate was cod, hake or pollock.
The dozen being promoted are among more than 100 species that the EDF says are now swimming toward recovery because fishermen, conservationists and government joined together to save on-the-brink fisheries.