AFTER years of carving up tuna carcasses in my bathtub, catching cod in the dead of winter and cooking fish and chips for crowds of 50-plus I have come to be known among my friends as the fish guy.
Until recently I’ve enjoyed being the fish guy and my ability to correctly answer questions about fish has felt like a game of “Jeopardy” rigged for my benefit. How do you tell a flounder from a fluke? Easy, fluke have prominent teeth, flounder don’t. Should bluefish and striped bass be cooked differently? Definitely: broil the bluefish, bake the bass.
But lately being the fish guy has become complicated. With every new warning about a species being overfished into extinction, friends have started asking if they should eat fish at all. The Pew Oceans Commission report “America’s Living Oceans” first alerted the public to the desperate state of the seas in 2003 when it declared them to be “in crisis.” That year a study in the journal Nature reported that up to 90 percent of the stocks of the ocean’s major predators (Atlantic cod and bluefin tuna to name two) have been wiped out. In the next few weeks, Congress will debate what to do about the dire state of the nation’s fisheries when it takes up the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens fisheries management act.