End of the Line

I attended Boston Slow Food’s screening of “End of the Line” on Sunday. It was ok; a bit redundant in light of all the news and debates over the demise of fishing stocks both locally and across the globe. I was interested to see last week that the European Union is considering a ban on the bluefin tuna trade, one of the focal points of the film. I do wish that the film had also identified more best-practices and examples of sustainable fishing fleets. Surely, they are out there.

“End of the Line” reignited the guilt that now washes over me when I have to make choices about seafood. (Disclaimer, I could not stay for the discussion afterwards, and perhaps this would have helped clear up some of my questions… but then again, I’ve read a lot about this debate/discussion and I still struggle, so maybe not.) I understand why the tuna trade is problematic, as well as why farmed salmon is. But the tradeoffs aren’t easy. Case in point: is it better to participate in a CSF, which is local but also might be hurting the environment because they use bottom trawlers or catch cod, or is it better to buy a fish rated a “best choice” by the Seafood Watch program, but may have been flown across the country or the globe?

Also, I’ve noticed lately that restaurants get creative in their fish naming, making it touch to discern what exactly it is and where it comes from. For example, I had dinner at Grill 23 the other night and saw Australian kingfish on the menu. I’m not familiar with this species and a search of the Seafood Watch brings up five types of kingfish, which range from being best to worst choices. I opted to avoid this dish, surmising that it didn’t make sense to eat something flown here from Australia. Instead, I chose the salmon, but only after my server assured me it was wild-caught. And in retrospect, perhaps I should have chosen the “Wild Virginia Striped Bass,” or maybe not… I see now that they have high mercury levels.

Quandary indeed…

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