Humans are awfully hard on seafood. The world's big commercial fisheries have been in decline for decades, partly due to overfishing of species like cod, tuna and Chilean sea bass. Meanwhile, irresponsible farming of shrimp and tilapia degrades the environment.
Some concerned chefs have stepped to the plate. Jason Huzzard, executive chef at Downtown's Original Fish Market, uses the famed Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch List. The sustainability-minded pocket guide divides seafood into "Best Choices," "Good Alternatives" and "Avoid."
The restaurant buys some 200 pounds of fish weekly, but Huzzard mostly shuns "Avoid" species. Take monkfish, a sushi favorite caught in ways that damage the seafloor and have high "bycatch" of sea turtles and marine mammals. "I love monkfish but won't buy it," Huzzard says.
Huzzard seeks purveyors he trusts, and considers U.S.-sourced fish better regulated than imported. "If it's not as close to being as sustainable as possible, I try to find an alternative that is," he says. Perfection isn't possible, though: Huzzard buys imported shrimp because there isn't enough U.S. supply to source affordably.
Huzzard, 37, would like to see more sustainability-consciousness from the likes of popular TV chefs. "I don't see any of them giving a crap," he says.
Self-interest is involved, too. "If I burn out the fish, we won't have any to serve," explains Huzzard. "If somebody like me can do my part, I feel like I'm doing a good thing."