Lo­cal fish isn’t al­ways lo­cal

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) - - OBITUARIES/NEWS -

Even af­ter win­ter storms left East Coast har­bors thick with ice, some of the coun­try’s top chefs and trendy restau­rants were of­fer­ing sushi-grade tuna sup­pos­edly pulled in fresh off the coast of Mon­tauk, N.Y.

But it was just an il­lu­sion. No tuna was land­ing there. The fish had long since mi­grated to warmer wa­ters.

In a global in­dus­try plagued by fraud and de­ceit, con­sci­en­tious con­sumers are in­creas­ingly pay­ing top dollar for what they be­lieve is lo­cal, sus­tain­ably caught seafood. But even in this fast­grow­ing niche mar­ket, com­pa­nies can hide be­hind murky sup­ply chains that make it dif­fi­cult to de­ter­mine where any given fish comes from. That’s where na­tional dis­trib­u­tor Sea To Ta­ble stepped in, guar­an­tee­ing its prod­ucts were wild and di­rectly trace­able to a U.S. dock — and some­times the very boat that brought it in.

How­ever, an As­so­ci­ated Press in­ves­ti­ga­tion found the com­pany was linked to some of the same prac­tices it vowed to fight. Pre­lim­i­nary DNA tests sug­gested some of its yel­lowfin tuna likely came from the other side of the world, and re­porters traced the com­pany’s sup­ply chain to mi­grant fish­er­men in for­eign wa­ters who de­scribed la­bor abuses, poach­ing and the slaugh­ter of sharks, whales and dol­phins.

The New York-based dis­trib­u­tor was also of­fer­ing species in other parts of the coun­try that were il­le­gal to catch, out of sea­son and farmed.

Julie Jacobson / As­so­ci­ated Press

Sur­rounded by ice, com­mer­cial fish­ing boats are docked in their slips af­ter more than a week's worth of frigid weather froze the harbor in Lake Mon­tauk in Mon­tauk, N.Y., on Jan. 7. Only a few com­mer­cial boats re­main in Mon­tauk harbor dur­ing the win­ter months fish­ing for species such as porgy, tile­fish, monkfish and black sea bass.

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