Photo: thebittenword.com, Flickr
Legal Sea Foods' "Blacklisted" dinner just turned a shade lighter with news from Monterey Bay Aquarium yesterday. Current updates to the organization's Seafood Watch guide moved seafood favorites like Atlantic haddock and Gulf of Maine cod from the red "Avoid" column to the "Good Alternative" and "Best Choice" lists after the most recent U.S. stock assessments showed signs of recovery.
"Science isn't static, so we're reflecting these changes in our recommendations to consumers and the major buyers we work with," said Jennifer Dianto Kemmerly, Seafood Watch director in a press release.
The good news is given with an asterisk. Fishing gear counts.
Atlantic haddock, once listed in the "Avoid" column but now considered almost fully recovered off the East Coast, was given a "Best Choice" stamp when caught by hook-and-line methods, and received a "Good Alternative" ranking when trawl-caught.
Atlantic cod stocks may still be recovering from their collapse in the 1970s, but encouraging population counts now means Gulf of Maine hook-and-line Atlantic cod will be given a "Good Alternative" ranking. (A point, Roger Berkowitz of Legal Sea Foods was planning to make at the dinner later this month.)
For Boston's sophisticated new Island Creek Oyster Bar, which focuses on Atlantic seafood, and boasts a menu stuffed with dishes like Crusted Dayboat Cod, Seared Scituate Scallops or classic lobster rolls, the Seafood Watch changes are welcomed news.
"I think it's fantastic," executive chef Jeremy Sewall told Slashfood. "The more biologists, scientists and fisherman can work together and figure this out, it's just a positive thing. It's great the fish are coming back and great that fishermen can catch them. And for restaurants on the East Coast to feel good about serving this product? That's just fantastic."
Seafood Watch isn't the only one spreading good news this week.
According to the Associated Press, Steve Murawski, who retired last week as chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service said that for the first time in a century, U.S. fishermen are not taking too much of any species from our coastal waters.
"As far as we know, we've hit the right levels," Murawski told the AP. "This isn't just a decadal milestone, this is a century phenomenon."