One Persons Trash Is Another Persons Dinner; Fish Mongers Are Expanding What Americans Eat
A fish monger in Houston is slowly expanding the dining horizons of restaurant patrons – one fish at a time. PJ Stoops has made a business for itself by buying the “secondary” fish – the “trash fish” if you will – that usually get thrown away, and selling them to inventive restaurants to show up as dinner on your plate.
The various varieties of fish that usually don’t have a commercial home are called Bycatch by those in the trade. Finding a use for them solves many problems for the fishing industry.
Indeed, while fishermen have been working to reduce bycatch by changing things like fishing gear, the problem remains. According to the first national bycatch report, conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) and released in 2011, it is estimated that commercial fishing in the U.S. produced 1.2 billion pounds of bycatch. (Shrimp trawling the Gulf of Mexico produced the most bycatch.)
“There are raging debates over what to do about bycatch,” Chris Dorsett, director of ecosystem conservation programs at Ocean Conservancy, tells TakePart. “The key is, does the government have the management safeguards in place should a robust market develop for these species so you don’t run into overfishing problems.”
So can some of these new Bycatch become palatable and popular? It’s happened before with fish like Chilean Sea Bass – a fish that once upon a time was bypassed in favor of other varieties.
The answer to the question in large part depends on the talents of good chef; In some ways all of these fish are edible; They just need the right preparation to become popular.