Here’s the Catch
Can We Have Our Fish and Eat Them, Too?
(page 1 of 2)Photography by Jason Moore I Stewart Pinsky
Last November, an international team of scientists issued a dire warning: If current overfishing and polluting trends continue, the world’s fisheries will collapse by 2048. Unless changes are made, “this is the last century of wild seafood,” says Steve Palumbi of Stanford University in a report published by Science. Gulp. More than scare tactics, this report compiles four years of global research and mirrors what we’re already seeing here in Hawai‘i: fewer and smaller fish. No more opihi. Lobsters on the decline. Fortunately, a few local restaurants can help us brave the new world of eating seafood more sustainably. So, for those of you breaking into a cold sweat at the thought that last night’s seafood buffet might be your last, read on.
Sitting in the gorgeous dining room of Pineapple Grill in Kapalua, I’m about to dive into my first all-sustainable seafood menu. Chef Ryan Luckey delivers a mouthwatering appetizer platter—a trio of bite-sized ‘ahi (yellowfin tuna) preparations. The gleaming, ruby-colored poke is perfect. The petite ‘ahi tacos are a zesty counterpoint to the best of the bunch, a miniature version of an instant-favorite entrée: pistachio and wasabi pea-crusted ‘ahi atop coconut-scented “forbidden” rice. Wow.
We move on through four more outstanding courses: Kona lobster chop salad splashed with citrusy vinaigrette and goat cheese, followed by a sophisticated fresh saimin topped with farm-raised kompachi. Next comes a lightly charred, troll-caught mahi (dolphinfish) served on truffled watercress with a ginger ale-carrot puree. Paella loaded with plump seafood serves as the meal’s finale. Every bite tastes like absolute luxury.
Great news, considering Chef Luckey’s lean, mean new menu is designed to give the marine ecosystem a break from our insatiable appetites.
Pineapple Grill is the pioneer participant in Maui Seafood Watch—part of a national program developed by the Monterey Bay Aquarium and sponsored locally by the Pacific Whale Foundation (PWF). Seafood Watch produces pocket-sized regional guides to help consumers navigate the waters of sustainable fish choices. You’ll find a Hawai‘i guide in this issue and online (www.seafoodwatch.org). Fish species are evaluated according to how they are caught, where they are caught, how quickly they reproduce, and how all of this affects the health of the ocean. For instance, that yummy mahi mentioned above was troll-caught (a fishing method preferable to nets or longlines that can indiscriminately kill other wildlife). It was caught in Hawai‘i (a well-regulated region) and the species quickly reaches sexual maturity (which allows stocks to rebound). These considerations make it a sustainable choice.
Seafood Watch’s regional guides list fish in three categories: “Best Choice” (green), “Good Alternative” (yellow), and “Avoid” (red). The Hawai‘i guide gives pole-caught akule the green light—as in, go ahead and eat it. Critically overfished Chilean sea bass and onaga (ruby snapper) are in the red—species to be avoided. So are farmed salmon, thanks to farming practices that generate toxic marine waste.