Sun was shining brightly in beautiful Beaufort, NC this week, and I was lucky enough to spend a day with Jack Cox and other fishermen there. Jack is a member of the South Atlantic Management Council and is most concerned with an inability to implement the catch-shares programs that have been benefitting traditional fishing communities around the nation. Still operating under the old “derby” style system, the Carolina grouper/snapper complex is closed to fishing until May 1. “I can’t make enough money to pay for gas keeping only trigger and amber” said F/V Sea Mint Captain James Holden, whose Lumbee ancestors have fished these waters for centuries. “I won’t even go back out until May”. Until then Captain Mike Santos of the F/V Iron Maiden will land summer flounder, and we will see a steady supply of sword and tuna from two boats that will head to their Montauk, NY summer home by June.
On our way home we visited the Raleigh/Durham area, home to a vibrant, growing food scene. We met a great group of chefs at Lantern Restaurant in Chapel Hill, where chef Andrea Reusing put her magic touch on some wild Bristol Bay sockeye salmon and some big wild Florida Gulf white shrimp. An impressive group in an impressive place enjoyed some impressive seafood.
Up north in the Gulf of Maine there is renewed concern for the health of Atlantic cod populations. A step in the right direction happened this week when Whole Foods committed to stop selling all “red-listed” fish by Earth Day 2012, a year ahead of schedule.
Just a few years back the Chesapeake blue crab fishery was in trouble, but strict management has lead it back to where they are now seeking MSC certification. Blue crab season opens today, and when you taste Maryland blue crab in comparison with the Asian product that has flooded the market, it makes you doubly glad that it will be around for our grandkids.
Down in Destin, FL, Chatham Morgan reports that in addition to the steady tuna, snapper, and grouper landing there, mullet, mackerel, pompano, cobia and sheepshead are now being caught within a mile of the beach. These delicious, under-utilized, under-appreciated species, next day from the dock, are a true chef’s delight. Your diners deserve them.