A Global Conservation Controversy Inside Your Fried Fish Sandwich

Here’s the problem with fish: it’s delicious. So delicious that we humans like to eat some species until they’re nearly endangered. (Mmm…sea bass.) “Sustainable” isn’t just an environmental concern when it comes to fish—it’s good business, too. Which leads us to the problem of the hoki. The what?

You may better know the hoki as the tasty white fish found in many fried fish sandwiches, including those served at and McDonald’s. They would never win a fish beauty contest, but are extremely tasty, and until now, quite plentiful. Now New Zealand has restricted fishing for hoki as population levels fall.

The scientific jury is still out, but critics warn that the hoki fishery is losing its image as a showpiece of oceanic sustainability.

“We have major concerns,” said Peter Trott, the fisheries program manager in Australia for the World Wildlife Fund, which closely monitors the New Zealand fishery.

The problems, he said, include population declines, ecosystem damage and the accidental killing of skates and sharks. He added that New Zealand hoki managers let industry “get as much as it can from the resource without alarm bells ringing.”

It’s probably just as well that restaurants are using less of the fish, though. “Filet-O-Hoki” doesn’t really roll off the tongue.

From Deep Pacific, Ugly and Tasty, With a Catch [New York Times]

(Photo: The Joy Of The Mundane)