Who Needs Chinook Anyway?

we’re enjoying wild California and Oregon salmon this time of year, but urban
development, dams, and water diversion for agriculture have contributed to the
depletion of Coho and Chinook salmon stocks and made some salmon runs extinct. Salmon
faithfully return to the rivers where they were born, making them both highly
dependent on specific freshwater areas and susceptible to population crashes due
to loss of their habitat. The remaining stocks are more vulnerable to fishing
pressure and ocean changes such as warmer sea temperatures. Most of these
alterations, I have to point out, are a result of human influences.

fine points about fresh versus frozen salmon, I talked to Paul Johnson from
Monterey Fish Market this week. Chef, cookbook author, and fishmonger to the
finest restaurants in the SF Bay Area, Paul sits on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s
Seafood Watch
Advisory Board (as do I). In his view, the only advantage to the current
situation is that consumers may try previously less well-known sockeye and pink
salmon. The Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program is even declaring “Pink is
the New Green.” Paul points out that these two species represent 95 percent of
the well-managed Alaska fishery and have the added advantage of very low contaminant levels.

The average American adult consumes
about 16 pounds of seafood annually: approximately ¼ shrimp, ¼ tuna, and ¼
salmon. Losing otherwise sustainable species to man-made environmental threats
is tragic, for fishing communities as well as our food supply, but hopefully we
can use “opportunities” like this to question our routinized eating habits and diversify
healthy alternatives.

-Helene York, Director of the Bon Appétit Management Company Foundation