[Coral-List] SUGGESTIONS RE: fish questions from a chef

Sarah Frias-Torres sfrias_torres at hotmail.com
Sat Feb 28 06:22:03 EST 2009

Chefs and restaurants are an important ingredient in the melting pot of marine conservation, because they can influence what seafood products people will ultimately consume. The Seafood watch program at the Monterey Bay Aquarium is a great initiative in this new path of collaboration between science and the public, and contains very useful pocket guides (even iPhone guides) on what to eat or not, based on extinction level (of the seafood species) or possible human health risks.  Check http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx
Of the species listed in your brother's message, two are of particular concern. I am sure that as you work at WWF-US, you probably know this already. But it helps to remind the information, for the sake of all seafood consumers (and chefs) on the list.
Sturgeons (many times labelled as "wild sturgeon" when sold to restaurants), are in their path to extinction.  The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the world’s oldest and largest global environmental network, classifies species by extinction threats, at their IUCN red list, based on extensive studies and research. All sturgeon species on the red list (27 in total) are threatened in some way, either critically endangered to endangered (most of them), or vulnerable getting close to becoming endangered. These species have genus names such as Acipenser, Huso, Macrhybopsis, Psephurus, Pseudoscaphirhynchus and Scpaphirhynchus. You can find the red list at http://www.iucnredlist.org, and IUCN at http://www.iucn.org

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), has its own classification.
Two sturgeons, Shortnose Sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum) and Common Sturgeon (Acipenser sturio) are listed under CITES Appendix I, which means, they are threatened with extinction and CITES prohibits international trade in specimens of these species.The rest of the sturgeon species are in Appendix II, which means they are not necessarily NOW (emphasis in the "now") threatened with extinction but that may become so unless trade is closely controlled and will not be detrimental to the survival of the species in the wild
See the CITES species list at http://www.cites.org/eng/app/appendices.shtml
And CITES appendix explanations at http://www.cites.org/eng/app/index.shtml
Following on the same lists, the Pacific stock of big eye tuna (Tunnus obesus), is listed as vulnerable at the IUCN red list, although the assessment was done in 1996, and most likely, it is in worse shape right now (See http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/21859). CITES has no listing for this species. 
Finally, the New Zealand Snapper (Pagrus auratus) is neither listed at the IUCN red list, nor at CITES.
In summary, assuming your brother was actually cooking what the invoice said, he and other chefs like him (and clients) could greatly help consume ocean-friendly seafood, by choosing to give some time off to those species that need it the most.
Bon appetit,Sarah

Sarah Frias-Torres, Ph.D.
Marine Conservation Biologist
Ocean Research & Conservation Association
1420 Seaway Drive, 2nd Floor
Fort Pierce, Florida 34949 USA

> From: Aurelie.Shapiro at WWFUS.ORG
> To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> Date: Fri, 27 Feb 2009 10:40:17 -0500
> Subject: [Coral-List] fish questions from a chef
>>From my brother who's a chef. Anyone have any answers?
> I have some fish queries and was wondering if either of you might be able to answer them or find someone who can.
> 1.Every once and a while, when I am fileting the New Zealand Snapper (Pagrus auratus) sort of a porgy or sea bream, there are a few that have these knobby bony growths on the bones between the spine and the anal spine, usually 2-3, progressively smaller towards the tail.  They are round and smooth and look like big pearly blisters around the bones but are seamless appear to be bone.  I have to cut around them and I lose some flesh.  I would like to know what they are.
> 2. The past 2 pieces of Big Eye tuna that we have gotten have these flecks of hematoma closest to the skin.  They are about an inch long and cannot be cut or cooked out.  How does a fish get these?  Poor handling, stress or other?
> 3. I was butchering a wild sturgeon today (at least that is what the invoice says) and when I took the skin off I found what looked like a tiny LED light on my cutting board.  About 3/4 of an inch long and the thickness of a Bic pen ink tube,  It was clear on one side and black on the other and there was what looked like a tiny light in the clear side...sort of like a capsule.  I don't know where else it could have come from.  Could it be a tracking instrument or something?  I kept it.
> Thank you.
> Aurelie C. Shapiro
> Remote Sensing Specialist
> World Wildlife Fund - US
> 1250 24th street NW room 2015A
> Washington DC, 20037
> *new phone number* 202 495-4183
> fax - 202 293-9211
> http://www.wwfus.org/science
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