On March 2, 2015, I had the pleasure of attending a very special event at the Boston Center for Adult Education (BCAE) in beautiful Boston, MA for Fish & Men: A Feature Documentary. This film explores the changing fishing industry while attempting to help the consumer, the environment and most importantly, the fishermen, according to filmmakers Adam Richard Jones and Darby Duffin.
Roger Berkowitz, President and CEO of Legal Sea Foods moderated the event and highlighted the main topic: “A Conversation about Spawning a Sustainable Future”. Delicious, sustainable seafood was provided by Northeast Oceans and prepared by the outstanding chefs at Dole & Bailey, which was served after the 1 ½ hour long informative discussion and viewing of the Fish & Men film trailer.
The giant takeaway from the event for me was the statistic that 91% of all the seafood Americans eat is imported, with only 1% of that seafood inspected by the FDA. Incredible! Especially considering I live in New England and I eat a lot of seafood.
Through their research and posted on the Fish & Men website, Jones and Duffin found that even in coastal towns, fish consumed in most restaurants and in schools is imported from foreign countries thousands of miles away after being frozen, processed, refrozen and thawed. Meanwhile, healthy fish that might be sustainably fished from thousands of miles of pristine US coastlines are being suppressed.
The most important issue, as Fish & Men points out, is that while scientists are struggling to count fish and conservationists are trying to save them, America’s oldest fishing community ~ Gloucester, is dying! And with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) imposing a 78% reduction in cod quotas last year and the Federal Government closing the Gulf of Maine in November of 2014, reversing the trend of suppressing American fishing looks daunting.
Jones pointed out during the event’s conversation that the “great American fish-swap is a determent to our own fishing industry”, with Duffin adding that the current American fishing industry is a “Tale of Two Tunas”, referring to the facts that what is allowed to be caught in the US is mostly exported for processing and then imported back. This must change to keep the American Fishing Industry alive, perhaps using aquaculture, other preservation and sustainability methods and fixing the broken supply chain.
The focus of the conversation then turned to how sustainable seafood and under-utilized species of fish can be sourced locally for consumption. The Fish & Men film depicts how American consumer choices impacts markets and how change in attitudes toward sustainable can drive change, while saving jobs and protecting the marine environment.
The food presented to attendees after the moderated discussion was proof that it could be done.
Ed Brylczyk, Corporate Chef for Dole & Bailey, and his team put together a wonderful assortment of sustainable seafood apps to drive home the point that under-utilized seafood can indeed be delicious, served with local drinks provided by Polar Beverages and Peak Organic Brewing Company (see food review here).
In the end, my eyes were opened up wide concerning the plight of the American Fishing Industry, what and how seafood is brought to my table and how things can, and must, change.
The Fish & Men: A Feature Documentary film is due out this October, hoping to be presented at National film festivals held throughout America. Please take a moment to learn about the current crisis with the American Fishing Industry and how we all can stand with Fish & Men to preserve the oceans, fish, our fishermen and fishing communities. As Fish & Men demonstrates, together we can spawn a movement to create a sustainable future for all!
Thank you for your support!