Selected tags: Catch Shares

‘Fish on Fridays’: Black Sea Bass, Virginia Beach Style

Black Sea Bass

Black Sea Bass

If you’ve been to an upscale Manhattan seafood restaurant, chances are you’ve seen Black Sea Bass on the menu. New York chefs drive the bulk of the demand for this tasty Atlantic fish, but you don’t have to be a fancy New York City chef to put Black Sea Bass on the table.  Sea bass fished off the coast of Virginia, Maryland and Delaware is caught sustainably under a catch share program which ensures that catch limits are not exceeded and fish populations can maintain healthy numbers. It is important to note, however, that not all sea bass caught on the Atlantic coast is sustainably managed, so it is best to ask your chef or seafood vendor where the fish was caught to ensure you are supporting fishermen who are fishing sustainably.

This week’s ‘Fish on Fridays’ post features VA black sea bass, currently managed under an ITQ system. Jack Stallings and his partner at Virginia Beach’s Coastal Grill have shared their technique for frying sea bass whole and serving it with scallion butter.

Meet a fisherman and restaurant owner: Jack Stallings

Stallings has been a commercial, hook and line Black Sea Bass fisherman for years. He remembers fishing for it long before it was under Virginia’s IFQ (catch share) program, when the competition was fierce and fishermen were restricted to quarterly quotas that glutted the market and lowered the price they’d get for their catch. Once the IFQ went into effect in 2004, he said, he could pick and choose when to fish, going out when he knew demand (and prices) would be highest, and when he was sure the fish would be biting.

“We know when the trawlers are catching a lot of fish and when they’d be landing,” he said. “We can work in between their landings. We know when prices are low, so we can save our quota for other times, when prices are higher.”

But Stallings doesn’t fish as much as he used to. Now that he’s 65 and semi-retired, he spends more of his time focused on the restaurant he co-owns. Black Sea Bass is only one of many species they cook up for their customers; he’s quick to note that it’s more popular in New York than it is in Virginia Beach.


Black Sea Bass:

One of four species jointly managed by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Black Sea Bass can be fished year round, though it is harder to catch during the summer spawning months. It is a flaky, white fish when cooked that is used in chowder, fried, grilled or stuffed. It can be found near the rocky bottom of the ocean and has stiff dorsal fins that should be handled with care. Stallings said his restaurant serves it with the fins still on.


Fried Black Sea Bass at Coastal Grill


Whole fresh black sea bass

Corn starch

Scallion Butter:

3 Fresh scallions, chopped

1 stick butter, melted

1 teaspoon vegetable oil



For the scallion butter:

Sauté the scallions in vegetable oil. Add to the melted butter.


For the fish:

Scale, gut and remove the gills from the fish. Leave on the head, the tail and the fins.

Make three vertical cuts in each side of the fish to allow it to cook evenly. Then roll in corn starch. Shake it by the tail to remove excess starch, and then, still holding it by the tail, dip it into a fryer “for as long as you dare,” or about five seconds. This makes the fins stand out.

Then “turn it loose” into the fryer and cook for three to four minutes. Remove from fryer, let it drain and set it on the plate.

Drizzle with scallion butter and serve.


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Ending Overfishing is Vital to Our Future: A Reminder as Congress Reviews the Magnuson-Stevens Act


photo credit: cliff1066™ via photopin cc

Congress is about to embark on a review of what has worked and what hasn’t in a law widely regarded as having halted overfishing in many American fisheries.  Though we have made progress here in the United States, overfishing is wreaking havoc on the world’s oceans and the mismanagement of our fisheries is the chief cause.  Recent peer reviewed science estimates that 64% of global fisheries are depleted below the levels required to sustain production.

Overfishing can lead to the loss of important species that can upend the balance of critical ocean food webs leading to the further degradation of our ocean.  To save the ocean, we must end overfishing.

One of EDF’s missions is to rebuild global fisheries with the best possible solutions that serve both fishermen and fish so that future generations can enjoy sustainable seafood, fishermen can continue to fish profitably, and our seas are healthy and abundant.  Peer reviewed and published scientific evidence and our decades of experience have shown that catch shares are one of the best solutions for rebuilding depleted fisheries both in the United States and globally.

In the United States, catch shares have brought stability and sustainability to fisheries once in turmoil from overfishing. From the Gulf of Maine, to the Gulf of Mexico all the way to the Bering Sea, fishermen have more stable and flexible businesses and fisheries are recovering from years of overfishing.  If you add our neighbors to the north, Canada, there are 15 catch shares that have shown significant improvements in the stability of jobs, revenues and increased safety.  All over the world fishermen are learning form the work that American fishermen and fishery managers have done to save our nation’s fisheries.

Catch shares have not been a silver bullet in this effort.  In some cases, setting catch limits and aggressive enforcement can be enough to make sure a fishery is sustainable, but in many cases catch limits alone produce derby fishing, where fishermen race to fish in short, unsafe seasons, make very little money, and often lose their businesses – all while the health of the fishery continues to fail.

Science-based catch limits are the bedrock of any catch share program.  Catch shares give fishermen an economic incentive to stay within those limits, practically guaranteeing an end to overfishing.  The Gulf of Mexico commercial red snapper fishery has been managed under a catch share for more than five years. Before the catch share, fishermen were often exceeding their catch limit and racing in derby seasons that continued to get shorter and shorter. These derbies were unsafe, sometimes unprofitable and were doing nothing to help rebuild the fishery. Read More »

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‘Fish on Fridays’: Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper, a tasty sustainability success story

Gulf Wild Red Snapper

Gulf Wild tagged Red Snapper. GulfWild allows the consumer to trace their fish back to the boat and captain who caught it

Welcome to a blog series on sustainable, locally sourced seafood for Lent! This week, we are featuring Gulf of Mexico red snapper which is managed under the Gulf of Mexico Commercial Red Snapper IFQ program. We are also presenting a delicious recipe for snapper tacos from Chef Chris, the head chef at Yaga’s in Galveston.

Meet a Fisherman: Bubba Cochrane

Bubba Cochrane is a commercial fisherman and business owner in Galveston, TX. He began his career as a deck hand and saved enough to purchase a permit and boat of his own. His business is doing well now, but he remembers when red snapper were on the brink of collapse. At that time, he was restricted to fishing in just the first 10-15 days of each month, in a derby-style competition in which everyone got on the water at the same time and tried to catch as many fish as possible.

He told National Geographic, “A derby is really stressful – you’re worried about the weather or if you get sick or even hurt,” he said. “And it means you miss a lot of birthdays and holidays with your family, because when fishing is open you’d better be on the water.”

Cochrane was skeptical of the IFQ program until he went to a workshop and learned he could buy or lease additional quota if he didn’t have enough. Now, his business is doing well and he hopes that one day, his son will follow in his footsteps. “Catch shares taught me about stewardship. I know what sustainability means and I believe in it,” said Cochrane. “There’s a future for the fishery.”


The Gulf of Mexico Commercial Red Snapper IFQ program:

Gulf snapper are so popular that overfishing once threatened to devastate this species, reducing it to just 4% of its original population. Attempts to control the problem by shortening the fishing season year after year failed. Then in 2007, fishermen voted to introduce an Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ), a type of catch share, which put this species on the road to recovery. Since 2008, the fishing season has been extended to year-round, fishing quotas have been steadily rising and revenues have gone up, allowing fishermen to once more make a good living without harming the stock.

Some have even found creative ways to use the fishery’s new sustainability to market their catch. Gulf Wild, a registered program of the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholder’s Alliance, allows consumers to track the fish they buy back to its supplier, so they can see who caught their snapper, what part of the Gulf it came from, the name of the ship’s captain, and even the port where it was landed. The program assures consumers that they are eating truly sustainable seafood. Check out for more information on how the program works and where to buy Gulf Wild fish.


Red Snapper:

Red snapper, with its firm texture and sweet, nutty flavor, is one of the most popular white fish on the market and can be found all over the world, though most are harvested in the Gulf of Mexico or Indonesia. We are advocating that you purchase the locally caught Gulf snapper, however, and support local fishermen like Bubba!

Care to cook some snapper? Try this recipe for fresh snapper tacos.


Chef Chris’ snapper tacos: 


1/2 Gal sour cream
3 green onions, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 C capers
1 C white wine
1 lime, juiced
2 T mayonnaise
1 T black pepper
1 T salt
1 T blackening seasoning

Sauce: Combine above ingredients in a bowl & set aside.

2 8oz red snapper fillets, cut into 3oz strips
1 T salt
1 T pepper
1 T chili powder
1 T garlic powder

Combine seasonings and coat snapper with the mixture. Cover bottom of sauté pan with olive oil & cook fish until white and flaky.

Assemble tacos with corn tortillas, shredded cabbage, chopped cilantro, sautéed snapper, and prepared sauce. Layer two or three corn tortillas for stability.

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Fishermen and Chefs United: Keep Catch Shares On The Table

Left to Right: EDF National Policy Specialist Melissa Carey, Former Senator Slade Gorton III, Former Representative  Robin Tallon & Representative Chellie Pingree.
Photo Credit: David Hills

This week more than 100 fishermen, chefs and seafood distributors from around the country gathered in Washington, D.C. to talk with members of Congress about sustainable fishing and the need to keep catch shares in the tool box for our nation’s fisheries managers.

Recently, some in Congress have attempted to take catch shares off the table for fishery managers; limiting regional councils’ ability to make the best decision for their fishermen.

Catch shares help eliminate overfishing and restore fish stocks by dividing the total scientifically approved allowable catch among the fishermen and ending short seasons and derbies. Catch shares have been proven to recover fish populations, increase compliance with catch limits, reduce waste, stabilize revenue and increase business efficiency.

In more than 115 meetings, the fishermen and chefs stood together to make it clear that catch shares are working, they are making American fisheries more sustainable and they have had positive impacts not only on fishermen, but the seafood industry.

Chef Rick Moonen of rm Seafood in Las Vegas delivered a letter to Congress signed by chefs from around the country, including Eric Ripert, Mario Batali, Hugh Acheson, Kerry Heffernan, and Susan Spicerjust to name a few.

Guests at NOD 2013 congressional reception enjoy sustainable seafood recipes provided by celebrity chefs. Photo Credit: David Hills

Read More »

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‘Fish on Fridays’: Sustainable Fish Choices for Lent

Pike Place Seafood Market

Pike Place Seafood Market
Photo Credit: Joey Brookhart/Marine Photobank

During this season of Lent, millions of people are replacing meat with fish on Fridays.  And as they shop for seafood more frequently, many are also striving to avoid eating fish caught in a manner that further depletes the world’s fish stocks. With 87 percent of the world’s fisheries already fully or overexploited, buying sustainably caught seafood has become increasingly important to consumers.

Today, the best way to ensure you are buying sustainable seafood — and supporting American fishermen and fishing communities — is to buy from a US fishery managed under a system known as a “catch share.” Catch shares reduce overfishing by enforcing annual catch limits and increased monitoring, while granting fishermen a guaranteed share of the catch and greater flexibility in how they run their businesses.

They also provide consumers with more fresh, high-quality seafood. When all the fish have to be caught within the space of three days, as previous management required, it causes a glut on the market and most of those fish must be frozen. Longer fishing seasons mean fresh fish can be caught and sold year-round for consumers to enjoy.

So as you shop for your fish each Friday this Lent season, consider picking up some naturally sweet and lean Alaskan halibut, known for its firm, flaky texture. Or how about some sablefish, also known as “black cod” or “butterfish,” which is rich in omega 3 fats? It can be smoked, grilled or pan roasted. The popular Gulf red snapper is delicious when roasted with fresh herbs and vegetables, or perhaps your family would enjoy some mid-Atlantic golden tilefish, oven roasted with a bit of olive oil and sea salt? Next week give Virginia striped bass (rockfish) a try, rubbed with Cajun seasoning and blackened.

Want more ideas? Every Friday during Lent, we will be posting about sustainable seafood choices from catch share fisheries. Each week we will highlight a species, a fisherman and/or fishing community working hard to ensure a fresh and sustainable product, and a recipe to inspire you. We want to bring you closer to the fish you eat, and ultimately to the marine ecosystem that depends upon responsible consumer choices for its continued survival.


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McDonald’s to Use Eco-Labeled Fish: We’re Lovin' It

McDonald's Filet O Fish Made from Alaskan Pollock

A McDonald's Filet o Fish sandwich, made from Alaskan Pollock. Photo from McDonald's

Recently, McDonald’s USA announced that it would become the first national restaurant chain to serve fish sporting an eco-label from the Marine Stewardship Council at all of its locations across the country. The new label will make its debut in conjunction with the launch of the restaurant’s new Fish McBites next month, although it’s already selling MSC-certified wild-caught Alaska pollock in its fish filet sandwiches and has been using certified fish in the US since 2005.

According to the Chicago Tribune, McDonald’s audits its fish supply to ensure both sustainability and traceability – the ability to trace the fish all the way through the supply chain from the restaurant back to the fishery. As one of the largest buyers of fish in the United States, McDonald’s decision to promote sustainable fish in its marketing and sales will help raise the visibility of this issue and the ability of consumers to choose sustainably caught fish over those that continue to be overfished.

The Alaskan pollock fishery has one of the strongest catch share management programs in the country, which has resulted in a halt to overfishing. The management program also provides for 100% monitoring, which leads to excellent data collection, allowing fishery managers to track compliance with quotas, record bycatch, assess habitat and ecosystem impacts, and generally improve the conservation and management of marine resources in Alaska. Read More »

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What’s the Deadliest Job? Police Officer? Fire Fighter? Fisherman?

NPR’s Planet Money created a compelling graphic to illustrate how different jobs compare in terms of the risk of getting killed on the clock.  While police and fire fighters may come to mind as being the deadliest occupations, fishermen actually have the highest risk per 100,000 workers of losing their lives.

Fishing is inherently a dangerous profession, but there are many ways to make it safer that deserve attention. One is catch share management, which ends the race to fish and relieves some of the pressure on fishermen to be on the water in the worst weather because they’re afraid the fishing season will be cut off. Read more about the impact catch shares have had on safety here.

Bureau of Labor Statistics Deadliest Jobs

Source: Bureau Of Labor Statistics
Credit: Jess Jiang and Lam Thuy Vo /NPR

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How Behavioral Economics Could Save Both the Fishing Industry and the Oceans

Eric Pooley, EDF Senior Vice President for Strategy and Communications

Eric Pooley, EDF Senior Vice President for Strategy and Communications

Preview of Harvard Business Review Blog by Eric Pooley 

Read the full blog here

It's frightening enough that 87% of the world's assessed fisheries are fully or over-exploited. But it is even scarier to consider how little we know about the condition of most of the world's fisheries, because four-fifths of them have never been scientifically assessed. A recent study in the journal Science is providing fresh insights into thousands of fisheries where data has not been previously available. These "data poor" fisheries make up 80% of the world's catch — and many are on the brink of collapse.

Despite the dire news, there is a bright spot in the study. The authors conclude that the ocean is nowhere near a lost cause and with the right management tools, the abundance of fish could increase by 56%. In some places, the study says, fisheries yields could more than double.

This isn't just a big deal for the fish. As the authors of the Science study write, "When sustainably managed, marine fisheries provide food and livelihoods for hundreds of millions of people worldwide." So what's the key to seeing such a rebound become reality? An approach to overseeing fisheries known as rights-based management, or catch shares.

Over the past decade, catch shares have taken hold in U.S. waters, ensuring the sustainability of about 65% of the fish landed in the United States. This is the greatest unknown policy success of our time. Don't take my word for it — I work for the Environmental Defense Fund, a policy shop that has long championed the approach. Instead, consider the facts that helped lead the authors of the Science article draw that same optimistic conclusion.

Catch shares are a market-based management tool used in commercial fishing that, coupled with catch limits, have been successful in rebuilding fish populations while improving the efficiency and business of fishing. After decades of failed regulatory regimes, catch shares are working for fish and for fishermen. What's unfolding before our eyes is a global behavioral economics study — one that's delivering major benefits to people around the world.

The Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery, for example, was on the brink of collapse in the early part of the last decade. Fishermen were limited to 52-day seasons that were getting shorter every year. The shortened seasons, an attempt to counter overfishing, hurt fishermen economically and created unsafe "derbies" that often forced them to race into storms like the boats in The Deadliest Catch.

**Intrigued? Keep reading the blog at Harvard Business Review

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