Editorial commentaries on the domestic and global seafood industry.
I have newfound respect for congressional lobbyists, having walked in their shoes for a day - an oppressively humid morning hiking across Capitol Hill amid a phalanx of power suits and monument-hopping tourists. A job I once viewed as both glamorous and unjustly powerful I now view as a somewhat anonymous endeavor, fighting for face time with the nation's leaders only to be granted five minutes in the hallway of the House of Representatives with… Read More
Several buyers and suppliers I've spoken with over the past few months have mentioned they're holding out hope that the saying "what goes up must come down" will apply to seafood prices in the next year. But according to a report released late last week on global commodity food prices, no one in the food industry should hold their breath.
Food prices may come down from their current peaks, but the increases already seen in the real cost of… Read More
Back in early May, I predicted this summer could be problematic for shellfish buyers due to ominous early warning signs of red tide - a naturally occurring phytoplankton, or algal bloom, that can turn ocean water red when highly concentrated. With multiple closed-off harvesting areas, I argued that sourcing - not consuming - shellfish could get dicey as temperatures rose, and I was mostly right. A devoted and well-educated reader quickly pointed… Read More
Mississippi restaurants, as of yesterday, are required to disclose the country of origin of the catfish they serve. The domestic catfish industry views the new law as a coup in its protracted battle against less-expensive imports from Southeast Asia, namely channel catfish from China and the similar pangasius (basa, swai, tra) from Vietnam. Federal foodservice COOL seems inevitable, but this law is yet another protectionist act and a tough break… Read More
It's red, rubbery, replete with zippers and Velcro straps and weighs probably 50 pounds when soaking wet, but it's saved many a life on the Bering Sea and other dangerous commercial fishing grounds worldwide. It's called an immersion suit, and it's the first line of defense for a man or woman overboard to survive in the chilliest waters where fishing is most perilous. If you're wearing one, you're probably in trouble.
Hopefully, I'll never… Read More
Seafood doesn't lend itself to a neat, tidy balance sheet, which explains why Del Monte Foods Co. is on the verge of unloading its StarKist canned tuna brand to South Korea's Dongwon Group for more than $300 million. Skipjack and yellowfin, or light, tuna prices are rising, as are fuel and aluminum costs. So the San Francisco food conglomerate is shedding its seafood division before it cuts too deep into its bottom line.
Times for The Big 3… Read More
The European Union is a global seafood hub. Growing consumption rates have made Europe the world's No. 1 market for seafood - the strength of the euro makes the region a tempting market for exporters. And for the most part, the EU is years ahead of the United States in terms of sustainability awareness. So why hasn't the 27-member-state community protected its dwindling bluefin tuna stocks?
EU fisheries regulators last week accused fishermen… Read More
The environmental community doesn't always see eye to eye when it comes to advising seafood buyers and consumers about what environmentally unfriendly species to avoid. Greenpeace is urging U.S. and Canadian retailers to stop selling species on its "red list" as part of its sustainable seafood campaign, which it kicked into overdrive this week.
But some NGOs are at odds with three of the 22 species Greenpeace says are unsustainably fished or… Read More
Greenpeace never does anything quietly, so it was no surprise when the group's report on sustainable seafood programs at U.S. supermarkets was debuted with lots of advance buzz this week. The activist NGO (non-governmental organization) played its cards right by alerting the industry when the report would be out. By the time "Carting Away the Oceans: How Grocery Stores are Emptying the Seas" was unveiled yesterday at the Food Marketing… Read More
In his June 9 New York Times op-ed piece "Sardines With Your Bagel?" Taras Grescoe, author of "Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood," states his case for passing on salmon, America's No. 2 fish in terms of per capita consumption. Unreasonably high king salmon prices, the unprecedented closure of the California and Oregon salmon fisheries and an environmentally unfriendly global salmon-farming industry impelled… Read More