All the Fish in the Sea

| 4/30/2007 12:00:00 AM

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In our May/June issue, I wrote a “Conscious Kitchen” feature about sustainable seafood (including yummy recipes from top eco-chefs!) In the process I got to relive last year’s Cooking for Solutions conference, an annual event sponsored by the Monterey Bay Aquarium and its Seafood Watch program.

Lucky me—I got to leave landlocked Colorado for a little pilgrimage to California’s Pacific coast to learn about fishing, seafood, organic agriculture and wine making.

Cooking for Solutions is an extension of the Seafood Watch program, which works to help chefs and retailers—and the general seafood-loving public, like me—make wise seafood choices. An impressive roster of chefs and sustainable agriculture gurus discuss how our eating habits impact the environment and our health.

The news was both good and bad. The mercury content of seafood is a disturbing health problem, although fortunately some fish contain less mercury than others. (Swordfish, tilefish, shark, and king mackerel are especially high in mercury.)

The other big issue that struck me was overfishing and destructive ways of fishing, including dredging, gillnetting and trawling.

On the other hand, the folks at Seafood Watch are optimistic—they believe that if people are vigilant about the types of fish they choose, they can reap the heart-health benefits of eating seafood while still leaving healthy populations of fish in the ocean.