Archive for the ‘trout’ Category

Must-Read: Author on the demise of the last wild food

June 27, 2010

Author Paul Greenberg thinks like I do. His Times Magazine article, “Tuna’s End,” is a must-read on the last days of the warm-blooded, seven-foot-plus “seafood.”

While I was in law school, I spent a year compiling salmon research and environmental protection jurisprudence. I quickly became a vegetarian and an opponent of farmed salmon. The evidence is unreal, if you take the time to read it. It also helped that most weekends were spent out in the Olympic Mountains or the Puget Sound. Just a little time in the “wild,” watching bears, orcas, eagles, sea lions, mountain goats and salmon keeping it real with each other made me want to keep it real myself. Or at least try.

As I wrote that, I just heard the Bon Appetit judge on Iron Chef say, through stuffed maw, “This is why wahoo was created.” Wahoo is a large fish. And if this is a world where wahoo are born in order to provide nourishment to that guy’s weird Scott Stapp coif, then count me out.


Anyway, back to the point: We are making a big mistake. You can eat fish–I don’t judge. But whether you care or not, salmon and tuna are incredible animals and major links in their ecosystems. For years, we killed whales with no more guilt than we now have killing tuna. Until it’s “cool” to want to save tuna and wild salmon, they and the animals that need them are screwed. If you disagree with me, read Greenberg’s article. Here’s an excerpt of the excerpt:

But the main damage that took place that day was indisputably to the bluefin. After the encounter, the fishermen aboard the Jean-Marie Christian VI transferred the fish alive into a holding cage and slowly towed them away. Soon those tuna would be brought to feeding pens where they will spend at least several months putting on weight. Afterward, they will be slaughtered and sent to Japan, where 80 percent of the world’s Atlantic bluefin tuna are eaten with oblivion.

THERE ARE TWOreasons that a mere fish should have inspired such a high-strung confrontation reminiscent of Greenpeace’s early days as a defender of whales. The first stems from fish enthusiasts who have for many years recognized the particular qualities of bluefin tuna — qualities that were they land-based creatures would establish them indisputably as “wildlife” and not just another “seafood” we eat without remorse. Not only is the bluefin’s dense, distinctly beefy musculature supremely appropriate for traversing the ocean’s breadth, but the animal also has attributes that make its evolutionary appearance seem almost deus ex machina, or rather machina ex deo — a machine from God. How else could a fish develop a sextantlike “pineal window” in the top of its head that scientists say enables it to navigate over thousands of miles? How else could a fish develop a propulsion system whereby a whip-thin crescent tail vibrates at fantastic speeds, shooting the bluefin forward at speeds that can reach 40 miles an hour? And how else would a fish appear within a mostly coldblooded phylum that can use its metabolic heat to raise its body temperature far above that of the surrounding water, allowing it to traverse the frigid seas of the subarctic?

Yes, bluefin tuna are warmblooded.

That bluefin can be huge — 10 feet and more than a thousand pounds — is a side note. For those of us who have seen their football silhouettes arise and vanish in less than a blink of an eye or held them alive, their hard-shell skins barely containing the surging muscle tissue within, they are something bigger than the space they occupy. All fish change color when they die. But with tuna the death shift feels more profound. Fresh from the water, their backs pulsing neon blue, their bellies gleaming silver-pink iridescence, they seem like the ocean itself.

And in a way they are, which explains the second reason bluefin have come to possess such totemic power. For bluefin tuna and all species of tuna are the living representation of the very limits of the ocean. Their global decline is a warning that we just might destroy our last wild food.