retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The New York Times reports that finding local seafood in Florida is a lot tougher than it used to be:

“Florida, from sea to plate, just is not the seafood buffet it once was. Reeling from a record, fish-killing cold snap and tougher federal limits on what can be caught, commercial fishermen and charter-boat captains are struggling. Distributors and restaurants are relying more and more on imported seafood - some of it clearly labeled, a lot of it not.

“Federal fisheries managers say that a law reauthorized by Congress in 2006 now requires them to take more aggressive action against overfishing. They cut back the legal catch for some kinds of snapper last year, and 11 species of grouper are now off limits from January through April on the Atlantic coast. It is the longest ban on record for grouper and the first to include both commercial and recreational fleets.”

The regulations have created a kind of “sea party” movement in Florida, where fisherman want the government to increase the levels to which they can fish, and they question studies that suggest that the world’s oceans are being over-fished to the point where some species may become scarce.
KC's View:
I remember the first time I took note here of a study suggesting that the world’s oceans actually were running low on certain fish. There were a bunch of emails asking if this were some kind of April Fool’s joke (even though it wasn’t April), and people seemed generally skeptical.

Since then, however, there have been numerous studies reinforcing the premise that we have to be careful about overfishing, or risk serious consequences.

Now, to be honest, I tend to believe in these kinds of studies. I get a lot of irritated emails when I say this, but I do think we have the responsibility to treat the planet as a fragile place and to be measured in how we exploit its natural resources.

That said, I am sympathetic to the fishermen’s plight. This is their livelihood, the way they support their families, and putting limits on them has consequences. (If someone told me I could only use 2,000 words a day and only three days a week, I’d have a problem with that. Then again, at worst my words are only intellectual pollutants...at least, that’s what some people think.) I’d like to think that the federal government could take a reasoned and compassionate approach to their problem - not a knee-jerk reaction in either way - but I’m not sure that’s possible anymore.

Here’s what I have a real problem with. The Times notes that some restaurants are selling some fish as “local,” even though they are from Vietnam or other far-off lands, on the theory that the distributor from which they buy the fish are local. This is nonsense, and ought to be stopped.