A new book reveals the truth about Chilean sea bass
Ahoy, mateys! Methinks you landlubbers will enjoy this here installment of Something Fishy, as I bring news of a book hitting the shelves this month — about pirates! That’s right, me hearties, it’s called Hooked: Pirates, Poaching, and the Perfect Fish, and the “perfect fish” in question is the Patagonian toothfish (better known to seafoodies as Chilean Sea Bass). As described in press materials, Hooked is an adventure story about toothfish poachers caught in one of the longest pursuits in nautical history.
Unfortunately, I can’t offer me own opinion on the book — bit hard to read out on these rough seas, what with the eye patch and all … arrr! — but I hear that Tom Brokaw is a big fan and had this to say: “Hooked is a fish story, a global whodunit, a courtroom drama — and a critically important ecological message all rolled into one. Read this and you’ll never look at Chilean Sea Bass on the menu the same way.”
Word on the poop deck is that author G. Bruce Knecht will be interviewed by Brokaw on the Today Show tomorrow. (Too bad me ship doesn’t get good reception out here!)
From the press materials, some Patagonian toothfish facts:
- “Chilean Sea Bass” is not a bass and few are caught in Chilean waters.
- Many, perhaps most of the toothfish that are imported to the U.S. are caught illegally.
- Toothfish can live for up to 50 years and grow to five feet in length.
- A fleet of pirate fishing vessels decimated South Africa’s toothfish population in just two years. Toothfish are now “commercially extinct” there.
- A longline used to catch toothfish can stretch for more than a dozen miles and carry 15,000 baited hooks.
Let’s dwell on that last fact for a
minute paragraph or so. Patagonian toothfish are certainly not the only ones caught by these miles and miles of baited hooks. I neglected to mention in my previous post about finding sustainably caught or farmed seafood that longline fishing is not a particularly desirable method, as bycatch often includes charismatic megafauna like sea birds and sea turtles. In fact, a BBC article today — World Turtle Day! — reports on a new study suggesting that endangered loggerhead turtles may face even more danger from longline fishing than previously thought.
So, in conclusion, me buckos, pirates are killing sea turtles! Peg leg or no, I will not stand for this! Arrr! If ye pirates out there value ye lives, you’ll stop the toothfish poaching and the longlining … and you’ll buy me this T-shirt. Seriously. Even pirates need cute tees.
(Send the lavender girly tee to: Grist Magazine, c/o Cap’n Jasmine Poopdeck, 811 First Ave. Suite 466, Seattle, WA, 98104.)