When the Dish is Fish -June 2018
Cooking responsibly with a sustainable catch
by: Susan Simon
photography by: Nicole Harnishfeger
Nantucket is one of the most enviable spots in the world: a justabout-perfect little island surrounded by the temperate waters of the Gulf Stream in what should be a goldmine for seafood. But over-fishing, feigned ignorance of fishing regulations and downright defiance of those regulations by some commercial fishermen who would rather have fish in their net now, rather than thinking ahead to the future, have reduced fish stocks in local waters.
The stretch of water that most recently has become a cause of concern for local fishermen is the channel between Muskeget Island to the west of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard into Nantucket Sound. It is the spawning ground for squid.
The female squid gives birth to up to 50,000 eggs in her lifetime and then constructs, with care, egg mops which she coats with a gelatinous kind of material to protect the developing babies from predators. The egg mops rest on the eel-grass-blanketed ocean floor until they are born and float to the surface in search of plankton to eat, if they are not scooped up or ripped apart in the catch of indiscriminate harvesters. These are fishermen who drag small-mesh nets along the bottom of the ocean that capture not only the adult squid that are the focus of their catch but everything else that is unfortunate enough to be swimming through their dredges’ pathway: including the gestating squid egg mops.
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