Petrale Sole and Sand Dabs: Are They Sustainable Seafood?
|The Pacific sand dab: sustainable?|
In February, San Francisco magazine made a splash with a lengthy story, "The New School of Fish," that examined restaurants' adherence to environmental standards in their choice of fish.
One of the aspects of the story that riled the fishermen and fishmongers to whom we spoke was the assertion that local groundfish, such as petrale sole and sand dabs, are harvested in a destructive way. The dominant commercial catch means for this fish is bottom trawling, or dragging a net across the ocean floor, which in some circumstances can cause damage to underwater habitat.
You might expect fishermen and fishmongers to make this argument -- particularly since both species are popular among San Francisco seafood enthusiasts -- but scientists concur. As John McCosker, chairman of the Department of Aquatic Biology at the California Academy of Sciences, told us: "It's much quicker to recover, because you're not destroying substrate. That kind of fishing is sustainable, as long as you don't overfish."
We ended up including petrale sole and sand dabs on our own list of environmentally responsible choices of local fish. What say you, readers? Can we keep consuming the delicious flesh of these bottom-dwellers with a clean conscience?
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