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Seafood Watch Update Good for Alameda Diners, but Likely to Have Little Impact on Anglers

Perch is one type of fish that people angle for in Alameda. (Monterey Bay Aquarium)

Perch is one type of fish that people angle for in Alameda. (Monterey Bay Aquarium)

The Monterey Bay Aquarium announced yesterday that it has upgraded 21 fishery species as part of its ongoing Seafood Watch program, which is intended to guide consumers on sustainable eating choices. While the upgrades should be good for Alameda diners, it seems likely they will have little impact on local anglers.

The Aquarium has upgraded several West Coast groundfish species, such as sablefish and rockfish, to either a “Best Choice” or “Good Alternative” ranking, and several flatfish species, such Dover sole, English sole and Pacific sanddabs “Good Alternative” to “Best Choice.”

Pacific grenadier was upgraded from “Avoid” to “Good Alternative” and Spiny dogfish, a type of shark, has been upgraded from “Avoid” to “Best Choice.”

Media contacts at the Aquarium provided a statement on behalf of Sheila Bowman, who works with chefs in San Francisco and nationwide on behalf of the Aquarium: “Chefs will be excited to have access to Pacific rockfish – sometimes sold as Pacific ‘red snapper’. A delicious fish – one of my favorites – flaky white flesh, good in every single way I’ve ever eaten it (fish and chips, tacos, grilled and smothered with huachinango sauce (!!)). The Pacific flatfish will also be exciting to restaurants who want that ‘filet of sole’ dish — a classic west coast and specifically a San Francisco area dish.”

None of the upgraded species, except perhaps for the spiny dogfish, seem to be accessible to the angler on Alameda shores, however.

Victor, a man who answered the telephone at Mike’s Bait in Oakland, told Action Alameda News that his customers typically fish for shark, stingray, stripers, perch and smelt in Alameda, using worms, shrimp, squid and anchovies for bait.

A California Department of Fish and Wildlife report indicates that 31,852 pounds of Dungeness crab, worth $103,238, and 741 pounds of Chinook salmon, worth $4,127, were landed in Alameda in 2013. (By comparison, the report shows $20 million worth of a wide variety of fish species landed in the San Francisco port the same year.)

Seafood Watch officials are heralding the return of the West Coast groundfish fishery, citing an economic disaster in 2000 when landings and income from fishing dropped precipitously.

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