King salmon, freshly arrived at Fisherman's Wharf

In his new book “American Catch,” author Paul Greenberg reveals how the U.S. imports about 90 percent of the seafood we eat, even though we control more ocean than any other country in the world. Why is some of the best seafood caught in U.S. waters ending up on dinner tables in Asia? What are the implications for the environment and the future of U.S. fisheries? What can consumers do to change what seems like a crazy equation of exchanging our fish for lower-quality seafood from Asia?

Paul Greenberg, journalist and author of "American Catch: The Fight for Our Local Seafood"
Kenny Belov, co-owner of Fish restaurant in Sausalito and the wholesale company TwoXSea
Ray Hilborn, professor of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington
Alan Lovewell, co-founder and manager of Local Catch Monterey Bay

  • Frank

    I wish for a world in which, when I buy sushi at a restaurant, I’m guaranteed it hasn’t been circulating around the world in the freezers of cargo ships for a year.

    I wish for a world in which, there is no chance that the rice in that sushi will be counterfeit rice from China that’s made out of plastic.

    But given that capitalism is based on profit, which is largely incompatible with democracy or the public good, I doubt my wishes will be fulfilled.

    • ES Trader

      Go to a “real” sushi restaurant that is Japanese owned with a Japanese sushi chef, not a ‘knock-off’ “counterfeut”

      Watch “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”, its not just fast-food assembly

  • Fay Nissenbaum

    Please demystify all the SALMON labels: atlantic, wild caught, natural wild, fish from canada, fish from alaska, etc…Trader Joes sells lots of frozen fish in San Francisco and whether I buy theirs, or a fresh fish from markets in Chinatown, I hear more guesses about origin than reliable information. I certainly dont want farmed “Frankenfish” that’s penned up in filthy conditions. The labels for fish are written to confuse us, it would seem!

    • Another Mike

      Re: wild caught. A lot of salmon caught in the (Pacific) ocean were raised in hatcheries. They have their adipose fin clipped to distinguish them from true wild fish.

      Atlantic salmon are Salmo salar, while Chinook (King) salmon are Oncorhynchus tshawytscha, and Coho (Silver) salmon are Oncorhynchus kisutch


    I wish Alaskan wild halibut didn’t cost $34/lb – (Bryans in San Francisco, CA). It’s my favorite fish but way too expensive to eat more than a few times during the season.

    Any other places that R cheaper to buy this in San Francisco, CA?

    • Fay Nissenbaum

      Halibut is a “bottom feeder” and has higher levels of toxins. I love Halibut too but gave it up when this came to light.

      • SUSAN

        Thanks for the visual Fay. I have such a hard time finding anything to eat , especially when it comes to protein. Don’t eat meat, only like Alaskan halibut, wild salmon, wild shrimp, sushi. All expensive and hard to get year round – wild that is.

        • Fay Nissenbaum

          Yes, I know what you mean!

  • ES Trader

    Americans, and I suppose Europeans dont appreciate fish like
    ‘pacific saury'(sanma in Japanese) and ‘mackeral'(saba). They have a darker flesh and more nutritious (omegas ) and more flavor that is an ideal accompaniment for traditional Japanese diet of rice, which does not, much like bread for a sandwich versus the burger, or cold cuts that the bread accompanies.

    Salmon might be the only fish that Americans eat readily with flavor and that is non white fleshed.

    Tuna on the other hand, though prized for sushi, is not widely consumed in ither ways.

    Changing palate preference will take generations.

  • MidAtlanticRidge

    Professor Hillborn – can you comment on the enormous Alaskan pollack fishery and its impact on Steller’s Sea Lions? Pollack is sold very cheap, and the sea lion numbers have crashed as that fishery grew.

  • Fay Nissenbaum

    The New York Times reported that 1/3 of all fish sold is MIS-labeled. In Los Angeles, 52 percent of the samples bought and genetically tested turned out to be something else. Almost two-thirds of the “wild” salmon samples, for example, were found actually to be farmed Atlantic salmon, which is considered less healthy and environmentally sustainable.

  • MidAtlanticRidge

    The Pt. Reyes oyster operation has a trivial ecological impact compared to the dairy farms that have destroyed most of Pt. Reyes.

    • Specify ‘destroyed’

    • Beth Grant DeRoos

      I agree when one considers the water and air pollution cow manure creates. Oysters do not pollute and they do not require man made foods to be productive.

  • Eric Hartwig

    What’s the deal with Chilean Sea Bass? I’d heard that this delicious fish was obtained from unsustainable stocks and that we should not purchase it. More recently, I’d heard that it’s now sustainably farmed in Australia. Is it OK to buy this fish again?

  • Fay Nissenbaum

    Please describe the preferred ways to fish. Are hundreds of hooked lines better than giant nets? How big are we talking about with ships? Are most fish caught with smaller boats or giant trawlers? What’s going on out there in the oceans? We cannot see that far, after all…

  • Fay Nissenbaum

    Please address outright FRAUD. Almost two-thirds of the “wild” salmon samples, were found actually to be farmed Atlantic salmon, which is considered less healthy and environmentally sustainable., according a study by Oceana.

  • Jesse Sanchez

    I’ve been told that fish farming is quite wasteful and dumps a large amount of waste and pollution into the sea. Could oyster farming be coupled with fish farming in order to decrease the amount of waste and pollution that is generated with fish farming?

  • darqmyth

    Are your guests aware that the average person buys a multiplicity of goods at stores and shops, how do you expect a person with a life NOT in fishing to have all this information regarding fisheries and season, etc.? Really.

    • Beth Grant DeRoos

      Trust me most people waste hours looking at nonsense on the Internet, so I also think they have the ability to actually spend some time getting educated on ALL food issues.

  • Scott, Thanks for having us on the show, we are launching a seasonal seafood calendar for the west coast of USA on Friday, July 11th with the aim of promoting seasonal and local seafood consumption. Check it out!

    Meghan & Brian

  • Chris OConnell

    Fish here: Hey humans, I know you have quite an appetite. Many species,even enormous creatures like the mastadon, have gone extinct to fill your stomach. i just want to say: Don’t eat me! You land creatures have done quite a number on the dry surface. Can’t you leave the ocean alone already? Your carbon and plastic pollution are doing enough harm.

    • Beth Grant DeRoos

      WOW Chris I didn’t know you sea creatures had internet access.

  • Joe Falcone

    The FishLine mobile app and website is one place to find information about where to buy locally caught seafood. It originated to help promote direct off-the-boat sales from fishermen in Half Moon Bay.

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