Sep 12, 2009

Kiwis and Micky Dees

in all its glory
The Filet-o-Fish sandwich. Regrettably, I’ve never had one. I just can’t bring myself to order it. Maybe it’s because of the shape of the fish "filet". A square puck of deep fried mystery isn’t too appetizing to me. Same thing with the McRib, it’s shaped like it has ribs in it, but where…I digress.

I’ve had some friends of mine say it’s pretty good for a fast food fish sandwich. Well, if you’re curious about the ambiguous square fish, wonder no more. The majestic filet-o-fish fish is what the New Zealanders call: The hoki (or the blue grenadier).

Doesn’t look square to me.

At one time, McDonalds used around 15 million pounds of it annually. It’s not the most attractive fish in the sea, but it tastes great. White, flaky, and slightly sweet. (for another fugly sea treat, read the ugliest, tastiest fish in the ocean). The hoki lives in the deep murky waters off of New Zealand, where it is sought after by a large commercial fishing industry. The species had been certified by the Marine Stewardship Council as a well managed and sustainable fishery back in 2001.

In recent years, New Zealand had cut back the allowable catch of hoki from a quarter of a million tons back to 100,000 tons. This suggests that this fishery is hardly sustainable. The numerous factory trawlers scoop up the dense aggregations of this fish pretty easily, with the side effects of ecosystem damage and unsustainable bycatch.

The hoki is relatively long lived for a fish at about 25 years. About my age. If you hammer the population of a long lived species down enough, it takes that many years to bring it back. For example, the orange roughy, which is also found in this area was heavily harvested for many years. They can live to be older than your grandmother... over a hundred years, with one that was reported to be 149 years old. That fish was swimming around before the civil war. Long lived fish species tend to be resistant but not very resilient to heavy fishing.

Sounds like there is a need for a new management plan. Meanwhile, McDonalds hasn’t been loving it. They’ve made the switch from Hoki to some other white fish. My guess is Pollock. Although, New Zealand is one of the more innovative countries in the world when it comes to fishery management, it looks like the Hoki fishery may not be a poster child of sustainability anymore.
NY Times article, here.

1 comment:

  1. you know... i could actually go for that right now...