By Sarah Birnbaum | Tuesday, June 21, 2011
June 21, 2011
BOSTON — A group of Massachusetts’ lawmakers is coming down hard on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the agency at the center of a contentious debate over regional fishing rights and the subject of a damning Commerce Department investigation last year.
During a Congressional hearing on the agency held in Boston on Tuesday, Rep. John Tierney called for the resignation of NOAA’s chief, Jane Lubchenco. He said the agency failed to respond adequately to reports of abuses by its staff.
"I don’t see the empathy that ought to be there, I don’t see the understanding. And the real commitment to make sure that their positions are understood and factored into any decisions that are made," Tierney said.
Tierney joins a growing chorus of lawmakers, including Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank, who say that Lubchenco failed to respond to reports of abuses at NOAA quickly enough.
The investigation, by the U.S. Commerce Department’s Inspector General, found NOAA was charging fishermen outlandish fines for small offenses. The money then went into a NOAA fund with no oversight. It was used by regulators to pay for fishing conferences in exotic locations such as Australia, Malaysia and Norway. It also purchased a $300,000 fishing boat used by government employees for fishing trips.
The Inspector General also found the agency’s Law Enforcement Director, Dale Jones, shredded garbage bags full of documents in the middle of the investigation.
U.S. Sen. Scott Brown asked NOAA’s assistant fisheries director, Eric Schwaab, about Jones’ current whereabouts, but Schwaab refused to comment. He has said Jones was removed from his job, but according to CBS news, Schwaab remains an analyst still making a six-figure salary.
Schwaab also says the agency is addressing past abuses by making a number of financial reforms. Sen. Brown applauded these actions, but many fishermen say they ring hollow when the perpetrators remain unpunished.
Brown said the problem at NOAA goes deeper than what was uncovered in that investigation alone.
"NOAA's history of overzealous enforcement in the New England Fishery has come at the cost of the fishermen’s' trust and their livelihood. And many of them tell me that the folks in Washington regard them as criminals instead of a legitimate and valued regulated industry," Brown said.
In May, the Commerce Secretary ordered the agency to return tens of thousands of dollars in fines to fishermen. The government is still investigating if funds collected through fines are being used properly.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
You know how I feel about the magnificent soy bean, but apparently I'm not alone. Americans are ordering edamame by the bushel at Japanese restaurants across the country. So today I'm pairing this ubiquitous bean with a western product we've fallen hard for, olive oil. Today they'll make beautiful music together in my All-In-One Olive Oil Poached Salmon with Edamames.
4 pieces center-cut salmon, pin bones and skin removed
3 shallots, sliced
2-3 stalks tarragon, leaves ripped
2 cups peeled edamames
Sea salt to season
Coarsely ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil to cook
Season the salmon well and cover with shallots and tarragon and let marinate 30 minutes. Place all in baking dish, add edamames and cover with olive oil. Cover in foil and place in cold oven. Set oven to 250 degrees. When temperature has been reached, go for internal temperature of 115 degrees, which should take about 30-35 minutes. Serve immediately.
Condesa de Leganza Crianza
—La Mancha, Spain
Taste: Round, expressive ripe fruit with fine tannins and a soft dryness; well-defined flavor with an elegant finish.
Aroma: Complex, voluptuous, soft
—The estate of Los Trenzones is located in the area of Quintanar de la Orden, 2,500 feet above sea level, in the southwest corner of central Spain's La Mancha region
By Toni Waterman | Tuesday, May 22, 2012
May 23, 2012
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Line up at a Whole Foods fish counter these days and you might notice something missing …
Whole Foods has become the first national grocer to stop selling “red-rated” fish. The designation means the species is overfished or caught in a way that harms other marine life.
Whole Foods seafood coordinator Matt Mello rattled off the list of local losses: “Grey sole, octopus, Atlantic cod and halibut.”
> > What's a "red-rated" fish? Check the SeafoodWatch guide.
The demand for fish
Mello said this is the latest step in Whole Foods' long commitment to ocean conservation.
“There’s been a timeline in our seafood departments, such as the lobsters — moving away from the lobsters,” said Mello. “We were the first retailer to come out with a rating system. Now we’re the first retailer to stop selling red rated fish.”
The first, but not the only: BJ’s and Target have made similar commitments. And the trend has only picked up steam after the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization reported that 80 percent of fisheries were fully exploited, overfished or recovering from depletion.
“I always say: if you enjoy the ocean and you want it here for future generations, and you want the bounty that the ocean provides for future generations, you really should care,” said Mello.
It’s something avid fish consumer Terry Drucker cares about. He said he wouldn’tgo to another supermarket if Whole Foods stopped selling certain fish.
“I guess if they’re pulling it, I’d guess there’d be a good reason for that and I’d try to avoid it — like I didn’t eat swordfish for a long time when I thought they were endangered,” he said.
The supply side
But Gloucester fisherman Russell Sherman wasn’t taking the bait.
“This is a corporate move out of Texas. And to me, it’s basically pandering to their customers,” he said.
Sherman has been fishing the waters off Gloucester for 41 years. And he’s been selling his catch to Whole Foods for the past 6 years. He thought Whole Foods’ decision to stop selling “unsustainable” fish was nothing more than a marketing scheme.
“The government has just issued a statement where five more stocks have become sustainable. And I believe that all of our stocks are on the upward trend,” said Sherman.
Sherman said sustainability is at the forefront of every fisher’s mind, because fish are their livelihood. Plus, he said the U.S. already has the most stringent fishing regulations in the world.
“I think Whole Foods should hold our industry up as a model to the world. We believe in sustainability,” said Sherman. “Each one of us are small businessmen, small entrepreneurs, who depend on the ocean. And I believe that we are the real conservationists in the world.”
The checkout line
Since launching the program on Earth Day, Whole Foods has pulled more than a dozen species fish nationwide. Those fish include sturgeon, turbot, some rockfish and swordfish and tuna from certain fisheries.
Four types are missing from the colorful fish displays locally: trawl-caught Atlantic cod, Atlantic halibut, octopus and grey sole. But Mello said most can be easily substituted.
“Something like grey sole, we’ll get a lot of requests for, so we have a wide variety of fish, different types of sole. One of the types we offer is Pacific Dover sole. Comes from the West Coast and we’ll offer that,” he said.
Friday, March 9, 2012
1. All species must be caught legally, preferably with a hook and line. Exceptions will be made for interesting techniques, such as spearing or archery. No nets or traps allowed.
2. We must eat the first legal example of the fish we catch.
3. Although we can catch the fish individually, eating the fish must be done as a team. That's why God invented freezer bags!
4. Guest anglers may be deputized to join the quest at anytime.
5. We must catch the fish in one year, Feb 7, 2011-Feb 7, 2012.
Now that’s "effingdelicious!"
You’ll know the cusk is done when it’s tender and looks terrible. But don’t be deceived, this is going to be great! Serve hot, and eat it by dipping it in hot melted butter and garlic. If you’ve done it right it will taste somewhat like lobster, if you’ve done it wrong, it will still taste somewhat like lobster. If you can boil water you can’t mess this up!
By Sarah Birnbaum | Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Jan. 11, 2012
BOSTON — Massachusetts lawmakers are hoping they can make sure that when a fish is advertised on a menu — high-priced Chilean sea bass, for instance — that the advertised fish, and not a low-value substitute, ends up on diner's plates. However, they might be swimming upstream.
In October, a Boston Globe investigation found state restaurants were mislabeling fish close to 50 percent of the time. At a State House hearing on Jan. 11, CEO Roger Berkowitz of Legal Sea Foods — one restaurant the Globe cited as being fairly reliable — said it was possible that not all the mislabeling was intentional.
“Some of the restaurateurs maybe didn’t know enough what they were getting or maybe took the word of the processors, so I think some of the mislabeling was inadvertent," he said. "But I think there were also cases where someone abused the system.”
Berkowitz said the federal government's oversight has been lax. Developing consistent nomenclature for fish would help: Sable, for example, is also known as Alaskan butterfish. "It shouldn’t be allowed one name in one state and another name in another state," he said.
State Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach said his agency didn't have the resources to police fish sold in supermarkets and restaurants. All it can do is remind wholesalers that it’s illegal to mislabel and warn them there can be consequences.
"We’re making sure local health officials, state health officials and federal health officials are sending a clear message to wholesalers that this is considered to be a serious problem and that they will feel the impact of government coming down on them if they’re involved in these behaviors," he said. "For many people, that’s enough."
And for the consumer, officials recommended asking lots of questions at restaurants about where the fish is coming from and sticking to trusted places.
By Toni Waterman | Monday, July 25, 2011
Jul. 25, 2011
BOSTON — Angela Sanfilippo knows her fish. She’s been the wife of a Gloucester fisherman for 41 years, and in her family there aren’t many nights when fish isn’t on the menu. But her dream of getting fresh, local fish out to the wider community seemed like a pipe dream until 2008.
That’s when she started the Cape Ann Fresh Catch initiative. It’s a “fish-share” program in which customers pay for a share of that week’s catch. It works similarly to farm shares.
“You join for a season and every week you would get your share, not knowing what kind of fish you would get – it could be haddock, it could be Cod, it could be Pollack,” Sanfilippo said.
On the morning of the delivery, shareholders get an email, telling them what fish to expect that night. Sanfilippo throws a recipe in there too, just in case.
To make it all happen, Sanfilippo partnered with day fishers at Ocean Crest Seafoods in Gloucester.
It’s mid-morning and the docks are buzzing with activity. Outside, boats are lining up to offload the morning catch. And upstairs, Ocean Crest Seafoods president Lenny Parco goes over the day’s orders. He says the program has given him a lot of new — and much needed — customers.
“I would say the program is probably using between 3 and 5 thousand pounds of fish a week, and that’s fairly significant,” Parco said.
Significant, especially in light of strict fishing regulations that were put in place last year, placing hard catch limits on how much groundfish a fisherman can catch. Under the old system, fishermen were allowed a certain number of days at sea.
Sanfilippo says the program pays day fishers up to 100 percent more than they would normally get.
“We pay the fisherman between $2 and $2.50 a pound, even if the fish sold for a dollar,” Sanfilippo said.
But Parco says it’s not all about the money. His favorite part is letting people in on the big secret to liking fish – fresh seafood.
“Once you get a good fresh product out there, people are excited by it. They always say, well, it smells,” Parco said. “Well, fresh fish does not smell. Fresh fish smells like the ocean. So if you walk by the seafood case and you smell fish, you wanna keep on walking.”
Once off the ship, the fish gets loaded into a truck and heads over to Turner Seafoods to be skinned, filleted and packaged into 2 pound bags. This morning’s catch: Cod.
“This fish is caught, landed, it’s processed here in the morning, and it’s on a truck on its way and it’s on someone’s plate tonight. And you can’t get any fresher than that,” said Turner Seafoods President James Turner.
He says the program, which now has over 680 customers, has become one of his biggest clients.
“And for that reason we’ve hired a couple more people in order to do – to get their business out the door.”
Once out the door, the fish is loaded into the delivery truck and, depending on the day, delivered to a handful of the program’s 18 pick up locations. Today, Harvard Square makes the list. And it’s here that David Wright makes his pick-up. Since joining, Wright says he has not been disappointed.
“It’s good – the first time they had Dabs and I’ve never had them before so I couldn’t compare to anything, but they were fantastic. You can taste the freshness,” Wright said.
Back in Gloucester, Angela Sanfilippo says her dream of making all fish local is finally being realized.
“We don’t need to eat imported farm fish from Chile where this seafood is available here and will be available with the help of God for many, many more generations,” Sanfilippo said.