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January 7, 2011

Unsustainable Seafood Dinner Makes a Splash

While some of you may be sticking to New Year’s resolutions to make sustainable seafood choices in 2011, not everyone is following suit.

Namely, Legal Sea Foods CEO Roger Berkowitz, who is hosting a dinner later this month with the New England Culinary Guild featuring what he calls “blacklisted” seafood, such as black tiger shrimp, Atlantic cod and Atlantic hake, which are all on the Monterey Bay Aquarium guide’s “avoid” list.

This provocative stab at sustainable seafood designations has taken some heat, not surprisingly. Jacqueline Church and Miriam at Deep Sea News both did some digging into the company’s claims and the science that Legal is trumpeting as “outdated.”

Miriam writes at the end of her post, “There are just less fish than there used to be. This means that we need pressure from consumers for effective management – people have to have the correct information about where their fish comes from, and to understand why they should care. Thumbing one’s nose at those no-fun fisheries scientists and environmentalists is not going to change the fact that fisheries are in serious trouble.”

On the other hand, National Fisherman magazine writes, “The justifications for blacklisting (or greenlisting!) are varied, sometimes politically influenced, and even based on old data or perceptions…I am all for chefs and consumers making informed decisions about what they buy and eat or serve. And that includes those daring enough to reach beyond the greenwashing and ask why.”

What do you think — is Legal Sea Foods adding something worthwhile to the conversation about sustainable seafood, or is this merely a publicity stunt?