"If you are going to buy seafood, ask the supplier where it comes from. Make sure it's a sustainable resource. Don't buy the stuff that is under threat. Get informed."
After that, I emailed the marine conservation organisation for their sustainable seafood shopping guide. It's the size of your average driver's licence and they sent me a wad of about 3000 copies once I told them that I sold fish every week at the local farmer's market. Their guide is not too bad for accuracy, albeit a couple of local glitches. Looking at their traffic light system (Red - don't buy, Yellow - Aw, maybe, Green - sustainable) the other fishermen said, "Yes, well, it's okay but there's some species in there that I wouldn't work because there are not enough around to make any money out of." (A fisherman's term for scarce) One bloke poked at the pilchards, of all things. "They're rare as hens teeth here. Why are they called sustainable in this guide?"
Here is the rub. Old Salt tried to entice me out fishing for crabs recently because he'd heard from Kaillis that blue mannas were fetching an obscene amount per kilo; twice what we normally sold them for. He got so wet on the price offered that he forgot about the breeding season. Every pot we pulled up was full of berried female crabs that we had to chuck them all back and we didn't make a single dollar. That was why the price was so high of course. Supply and demand. But imagine if we'd killed the pig that day? We would have made a squillion.
Last week a restaurateur in Japan paid 1.7 million dollars AUD for a single blue fin tuna. Yes, the same price you'd pay for a quarter acre block in Port Hedland. One point seven million bucks ...
This price and the prestige that goes with it troubles me, before I even get to rant about real estate agents in West Australia.
At the markets Old Salt and I charge roughly ten dollars a kilo for fish we'd caught, like, yesterday. This particular Bluefin was asking seven thousand six hundred and thirty dollars a kilo. At that price, these fish are well worth killing. Their flesh, worth more dead than alive, are akin to rhinoceros's horn and elephant's tusk. It's worth goes up with its scarcity. It's just like gold, except you don't have to kill gold.
The price that this restaurateur paid and the economic status that he will, and has already received from the publicity following his purchase strikes me as an obscenity. It's not just rude. It goes beyond bad manners. It is just a plain old obscenity.
This video below is from the movie End of the Line. It's got some blood in it, as a trigger warning to those who may get flaky. Fishing will always bloody and it is hard to kill critters who are hellbent on living when they are on the deck and thrashing about around your boots. (Especially stingrays and sharks. Drama drama.)
I guess I just want to say, have a think about all this next time you go to the supermarket. Think about what is going on and then if you can, avoid the multi nationals and the more expensive top end of town: head down to the local fish monger and ask them to give you the lowdown on where your fodder really comes from.