ONE FISH, TWO FISH, CRAWFISH, BLUEFISH:
THE SMITHSONIAN SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD COOKBOOK
Title: One Fish, Two Fish, Crawfish, Bluefish: The Smithsonian Sustainable Seafood Cookbook
Authors: Carole C. Baldwin, Julie H. Mounts and Charlotte Knox
Having presented elsewhere in this series our environmental concerns with meat production and with sustainability in general, we here present a brief background on sustainable aquaculture. Against our romantic expectations, both commercial fishing and fish farming are massive technological production enterprises. There are good and bad practices in both wild stock fishing and farming. An excellent summary of the current situation can be found in One Fish, Two Fish, Crawfish, Bluefish — The Smithsonian Sustainable Seafood Cookbook (150 Recipes from America’s Top Chefs).
Relative to trawling operations in wild commercial fishing, one point to remember is that three to 100 times as much of the wild sealife may be destroyed as “by-catch” as is harvested of the target fish.
Farm-raised fish has the advantage of directly controlling species loss. Inland aqua-farming of rainbow trout, catfish, striped bass, white sturgeon and tilapia apparently causes few environmental concerns. However, coastal farming of shrimp and Atlantic salmon have raised serious negative issues. Also, a large amount of fish must be caught and fed to the farmed fish. In the case of salmon, it may take 2 to 3 pounds of wild-caught fish for every pound of farmed salmon.
Oversight of wild fisheries is done through a vast patchwork of multinational organizations attempting to enforce adopted rules, yet violations and poaching remain commonplace. An equally bewildering array of environmental organizations monitor and comment on trends and practices. The Marine Stewardship Council, in particular, will award certificates to fisheries with sustainability and good management.
In terms of choosing fish, remember that shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tile fish may contain high concentrations of mercury or other heavy metals. (See: US FDA Mercury Levels in Commercial Fish and Shellfish) Among the now highly popular salmon, the five species presently considered to come from sustainable stock are: Chum, Coho (or silver), King (or Chinook), Pink, Sockeye (or red). For a more complete list of sustainable species of freshwater, seawater and filter-feeder fish, see p. 308 of One Fish.... Also, the Smithsonian web site contains a number of valuable information resources on the topic.