In case you missed it, former Hook chef Barton Seaver was just on The Kojo Nnamdi Show, along with Baltimore Sun reporter Candy Thomson and the Ocean Conservancy’s Tom McCann, talking about sustainable seafood and the illegal trafficking in rockfish. The program will be available online on the Nnamdi Show’s page on

Before he went on the air, I asked Seaver what he thought about the Washington Post‘s recent story about the illegal traffic in rockfish and whether it has affected rockfish populations along the Potomac and the Chesapeake. His response is after the jump.

The amount of fish that was reported as black market was very small and did not really have an effect on the population in terms of percent change of the overall biomass. However those fish were protected for a reason. That reason being that they were the super breeders. Fish grow exponentially in their ability to reproduce and so the larger the fish the more babies. So while the impact of those fish out of the water may not be immediately tangible, the resulting effect is certainly larger.

More importantly, it shows that there is still a deep divide between the culture of conservation, and the culture of consumption. I do not blame chesapeake watermen for trying to feed their kids and pay their mortgage. Many of them no longer have the ability to make a living off of what was once the most abundant ecosystems in the world. This is not always the result of overfishing, but more often of political issues and upstream populations. These few watermen broke the law and should be punished. They hurt their entire community. And the punishment that will likely come down is that all MD fishermen will likely have their quotas cut and their ability to make money decreased. The few have hurt the many and dishonored a tradition.
Check out an article that I wrote about this for a magazine called Stop Smiling. It is on my website under the ‘words’ page called ‘A drop in the Bucket’. [Carman note: It’s called ‘A Drop in the Ocean.’ PDF]

Photograph by Pilar Vergara