Paul Leon and Nathaniel Cooper
In an effort to combat overfishing and its harmful effects on ocean
health, students at the University of California, Santa Cruz ranked local restaurants on the basis of the sustainability of seafood items on their menus.
Overfishing and unstable fishing practices are a serious threat facing our oceans today and global fish stocks are declining at a rapid rate. In a 2006 paper published in Science Magazine, Boris Worm of
Dalhousie University predicted the collapse of world fish stocks by the year 2048.
By supporting sustainable seafood options, local residents of Santa Cruz can combat overfishing through their everyday decisions.
The students, advised by local NGO FishWise on seafood sustainability and business issues, have created an organization called Sea Change Santa Cruz in response to the detrimental effects of overfishing, habitat impacts, bycatch (incidental catch of unwanted or unsellable species), pirate fishing, as well as hazardous aquaculture farming methods.
Sea Change Santa Cruz has developed a system to rate the sustainability of seafood provided by local restaurants. Ratings are based on how the fish are caught or farmed, where geographically the catch was made, and whether or not the fish species is threatened by overfishing.
Each surveyed restaurant received a rating based on their
level of sustainability, with a rating of five stars being the most sustainable and zero stars being the least. Of the rated restaurants, the three most sustainable are Geisha, Davenport Road House, and the Paradise Beach Grill.
Such appetizing sustainable dishes offered are the Pond Foolish from Geisha (a roll filled with local albacore, masago, cucumber and avocado and topped with suzuki striped bass, iwana Arctic char, local albacore and harvested shrimp from Texas), Crispy Steelhead Salmon from Roadhouse (Warm Fingerling Potatoes, sautéed Chicories, and sauce Ravigote), and the Baked Champagne Mignoette Oysters from Paradise Beach Grill (six sweet east coast Blue Point oysters with the choice of oysters topped with a ginger infused frozen champagne mignonette or served braised in a Pernod reduction then topped with creamy sautéed
baby spinach accented with tarragon and chervil, finished with melted shaved Asiago cheese).
A complete list of all the ratings and suggested sustainable restauraunts is available on the Sea Change Santa Cruz website www.seachangesantacruz.net
“For more than a decade, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch® program has worked with consumers and businesses to help them see that their seafood choices can have a tremendous impact on the health of the oceans,” said Sheila Bowman, Seafood Watch Manager of Culinary and Strategic Initiatives. “We are delighted that these UCSC
marine conservation students have become so active in spreading awareness in their community.”
The restaurant rating system is a visual way for consumers to assess the level of seafood sustainability at various local restaurants. This system allows the public to make a more informed decision as to which seafood restaurant to select. In addition, Sea Change Santa Cruz provides a list of sustainable seafood menu options for each of the
restaurants rated, and will continue to offer the seafood restaurants consultation on ways to become more sustainable. Student project coordinators hope to achieve a greater awareness among the public towards the problem of overfishing and strive to improve the quality and abundance of sustainable seafood that is being provided at
restaurants within the community.
This project is being undertaken by students in the marine biology conservation course taught by Don Croll, professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UC Santa Cruz.
For more information about Sea Change Santa Cruz, please visit their website at www.seachangesantacruz.net, like them on Facebook for current news and updates, or
email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.