The Intersection

To Hell In A Handbasket

What does the Filet-O-Fish at McDonalds have in common with that imitation crabmeat in California rolls and the uh, ‘healthy‘ ingredient in beer-battered fish-n-chips?

i-c400da9b29ed053a5ed71e508439c56b-filetofish-717687.jpgPollock: poster child of sustainable seafood.

Well the pollock fishery is now possibly on the brink of collapse. Managed through the distribution of transferable quotas, fishermen take over one million tons of pollock every year and it seems those critters can’t reproduce and recover as fast as they’re being harvested. Go figure.

Jennifer’s got more detail in her guest post at Grist:

This is why Dr. Jeremy Jackson at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, says the collapse of pollock would be “the ultimate example of the emperor having no clothes.”

Seriously folks, you don’t have to be a marine biologist to figure out this level of pressure on a species is probably going to have some serious repercussions.


  1. #1 Greg Laden
    October 15, 2008

    I caught some pollock once. Now I feel bad.

    That was about 30 years ago … there would be a LOT of great great grand babies by now.

    But, more tot he point where I caught them was a place famous for Cod (like, but not the same as, Pollock) but 30 years ago you could not find Cod there (off Gloucester, 10 miles) because they were already fished out. The Pollock were what was left.

  2. #2 Linda
    October 15, 2008

    Here’s another expression that seems valid now,
    ” When it rains, it pours “.

  3. #3 Karl Bates
    October 15, 2008

    When we did this story about global fisheries policy just a couple of months ago, it sounded like the pollock were hanging in there. Sigh. I guess I’d better develop an appetite for jellyfish.

    Why does it always take total devastation for our species to alter its behavior?

  4. #4 Sheril R. Kirshenbaum
    October 15, 2008

    Why does it always take total devastation for our species to alter its behavior?

    We’re short-sighted with malleable tastes. The reason I worked on the sea cucumber fishery in the Gulf of Maine was because the large traditionally harvested species had disappeared and sea cucumbers were left which became an emerging market. These critters were being removed by tractor trailer loads every day.

    Fast forward a few years and fishermen would tell me anecdotally that they had to travel farther, steam time increased, and locating them was becoming more challenging.

    This story is repeated over and over globally. We must stop. It’s time rethink sustainability. Otherwise, as Karl points out, we’ll continue fishing down trophic levels and see a boom markets for jellyfish and algae.

    And our oceans will get mighty boring.

  5. #5 Stefan Jones
    October 15, 2008

    I think we need a tax credit for fish, to encourage them to have larger families.

    That will work, right?

  6. #6 Moopheus
    October 15, 2008

    Fake crab is pollock? Who knew? Some years ago, I picked up the impression somewhere that fake shellfish was often skate; I guess that was wrong. Guess you really do learn something new every day.

    Personally, I’m not convinced there are sustainable solutions. I think we’re just fucked.

  7. #7 sunnygrrlSB
    October 16, 2008

    Fake scallops, made with skate “wings”, have been marketed as true scallops in the past. I was told you can tell the difference by looking at the striation in the muscle tissue (real scallops have rings, skate wings have lines).

  8. #8 Oakden Wolf
    October 21, 2008

    We will have to move to genetically-modified chicken (even turkey, which produces more weight per pound of food consumed) that can produce Omega-3 fatty acids to replace the loss of seafood in the diet. Traditional seafood-consuming societies will have to be made to realize the consequences of global fishery collapse and drastically cut consumption. The panda is the symbol of the World Wildlife Fund; the imperiled bluefin tuna should become the symbol of a new World SeaLife Fund. The centuries-long perception of the oceans as an inexhaustible resource must be overturned rapidly to order to facilitate change before even more drastic collapse and fishery loss occurs.

  9. #9 synapse
    November 6, 2008

    Off topic: I have a friend who loves imitation crab meat because she eats kosher and doesn’t eat real crab meat.

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