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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A lesson in fish, the environment and economics

Chef Nico and I spent part of the afternoon with friends from the Sustainable Seafood Initiative at a meeting of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council who "is responsible for the conservation and management of fish stocks within the federal 200-mile limit of the Atlantic off the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and east Florida to Key West." Which is a pretty tall order if you ask me.

Today is a scoping meeting of an Allocation Amendment that would, in simple terms, set annual catch limits on both commercial and recreational fishing. These limits will be put into place to better preserve, manage and protect our fish populations. It was a really fascinating discussion, because it brings in so many facets of our society.

1. Money.
2. The environment.
3. Our food and where we get it.
4. Accountability and mindful consumption (on every level)
5. Regulation.
6. Recreational fisherman vs. commercial.

To be honest, I'm still mulling over much of what we heard today, and I'll talk more tomorrow about the issues, but I'll leave you with these things to ponder.

Currently, South Carolina tourism is a $16 billion dollar a year business and growing rapidly. The recreational fishing sector is also growing rapidly. Gas prices continue to rise. The market demand (you, the consumer) for fresh, local fish is growing (and we thank you for that). And, we, as a people, need to protect, preserve and manage the fish populations. Lots to think about. Simmer on that, and we'll talk more tomorrow.

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