In remote areas of Chilean Patagonia the sprawling mountain ranges, countryside, and bright blue water appear untouched by mankind. Verlasso Salmon strives to preserve this natural beauty and work with the community to maintain a sustainable fishery for future generations. Both Catanese Classic Seafood and Verlasso Salmon collaborate with Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch to innovate their practices and provide sustainable choices to consumers. In fact, Verlasso Salmon was the first ocean-raised Atlantic salmon to receive a yellow label/Good Alternative rating by Seafood Watch. Consumers seeking a quality product can trust their choice in Verlasso because they never use hormones or antibiotics to grow or raise their fish. To protect the environment, they do not use copper anti-foulants in their nets or enclosures or organophosphates on their farms. Verlasso first arrived on the scene with their ability to reduce the amount of feeder fish and water to produce a quality salmon. Today they have made sustainable innovations throughout their entire operation to ensure the preservation of the environment and culture in the region surrounding their farms.
In early November, Catanese Classic Seafood and Heinen’s Grocery Store sent representatives on a once-in-a-lifetime journey to visit the Verlasso Salmon farms in Chilean Patagonia. Verlasso Salmon, known for its innovation in sustainable farming practices, has made its home in Patagonia by adapting to and preserving the environment and traditional culture of this pristine region. Over the next week we will share this experience and provide insight into the future of farming in the salmon business. At home, consumers who desire the clean, fresh taste of Verlasso Salmon, can purchase it at any Heinen’s Grocery Store or at Catanese Classic Seafood. From the bright blue water of the Pacific Ocean to the astonishing magnitude of the Andes Mountains, this region offers countless reminders that working in harmony with the natural world is a top priority.
Day 1: The 20 hour trek spanned from Cleveland, OH –> Miami, FL –> Santiago, Chile before an afternoon landing in Puerto Mont. After meeting with the team at Verlasso, dinner was prepared by Restaurant Las Tranqueras in Puerto Varas.
Day 2: To see the true origin of the Verlasso Salmon, the group took a morning trip to the hatchery in a small town outside of Puerto Montt.
Catanese Classic Seafood supports fisheries that demonstrate responsible stewardship of their representative species. We support aquaculture suppliers and wild species fishermen that engage in environmentally sound practices regarding their farming and fishing methods.
Catanese Classic Seafood and Gulf Wild are partners in sustainability. The Gulf Wild group participated in our 2014 Sustainable Seafood event held at Canterbury Country Club. Jason Delacruz executive director of Gulf Wild gave a great presentation of the program’s objectives and goals. Over the past 2 years our partnership has grown to such a level that our personnel and our customers expect traceable Gulf Wild offerings on our daily seafood list. On rare occasions if landings are light or logistics don’t match up and we don’t have Gulf Wild seafood to offer, our sales personnel head to the buyers office for answers. Gulf Wild traceable seafood is a staple at Catanese Classic Seafood and we are very proud of that. Along with the targeted groupers and American red snappers we have been offering some really great by-catch items lately. Amberjack, grunts, Caribbean lane snappers and hogfish have all been available as a tagged and traceable by-catch this summer. We have heard stories from those giving the tag or tag number to diners in their restaurant and soon there’s a buzz with people learning about where and how the fish was caught and seeing a picture of the boat Captain and all the great info provided with that cool tag. Next thing you know other diners are asking about the tags and then dinner after dinner of delicious sustainable, traceable Gulf Wild seafood is being enjoyed in the dining room. Retailers are experiencing similar results. Consumers specifically asking for the tagged seafood items at the seafood counter. This bit of education is not only fun but highly important to help raise the consciousness of everybody to the importance of properly managing all our fisheries through responsible stewardship of our waterways.
Jason Delacruz, the Executive Director of Gulf Wild and the Gulf Wild fishermen have hit on some gorgeous golden tilefish and are in the process of packing these beauties with their traceable tags and fantastic flavor. The fishing vessel Miss Donna captained by Jesse Reed was on a deep water trip at the edge of the Tortugas near the Florida shelf looking for yellow edge grouper. Captain Jesse put some lines in about 1000 foot waters and felt like he was on the groupers. Up comes the first lines and the biggest golden tilefish the Captain has ever caught was on the line. Having Tile quota available for the Miss Donna this trip turned into a Golden Tile trip, and a prosperous one at that. They will go fast so don’t wait and take advantage of this great haul.
Tilefish is a mild-tasting white fish harvested from southern New England to the Gulf of Mexico. The saying “you are what you eat” rings true for this fish – they mainly feed on crustaceans such as shrimp and crabs. People often describe the tilefish’s sweet flavor as similar to crab or lobster. Tilefish was first caught and identified in 1879 in waters south of Nantucket. A commercial fishery quickly developed in this area when people discovered what a tasty meal tilefish made.
Lake Fish Update
We have now reached the heat of summer. As it is every year, the production on Lake Erie slows down greatly. This year the late spring and early summer rains were at record levels and runoff very high. This leads to the potential of large algae blooms.
Our yellow perch fishermen here in Ohio and the Canadian walleye fishermen both report growing algae conditions. The reason this is critical to fishing is on multiple levels. Number one the algae consumes oxygen and depletes the water of needed oxygen for fish life. Thus the fish avoid these areas of low oxygen and head for more breathable waters. The other major problem with the algae bloom is the algae gets hung up on fishing nets and makes these visible to the fish. The fish see and smell the algae on the nets and avoid them. We expect to have fish in limited quantities of both Yellow Perch and Walleye over the next couple of weeks. Patience will be needed by all as the fishermen chase and try to locate fish in these adverse condition.
Media Credit: Debbi Snook, The Plain Dealer
All that was missing was the scent of sea salt in the air as dozens of chefs, restaurant owners and grocery buyers gathered Tuesday night for a sustainable seafood program sponsored by Catanese Classic Seafood, one of Northeast Ohio’s largest fish vendors.
It was, as one speaker said, “a hook-to-cook” event.Sheila Bowman of Seafood Watch, an environmental ratings system sponsored by the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California, set the stage with some dire statistics.
“Cod, swordfish, shark, grouper and salmon – they’ve all been center-of-the-plate proteins in restaurants,” she said. Yet, we’ve taken 80 percent of these “large table-fish” out of the ocean. The buyers guide from Seafood Watch takes a look at which fish are scarce, which are taken or grown in destructive ways. Then it makes recommendations on what to buy and what not to buy. The guide has been available for years, but Bowman now heads a 20-person outreach staff designed to educate all levels of the influential food industry.
Bowman said overfishing reached its peak in the early 1990s. World War II had given the industry sonar and other equipment to find and catch fish. The harvests were huge. By 1992, the global fish population crashed. “And we haven’t seen a re-bound,” she said, “not even with more boats and better equipment.”
Pressures on the remaining fish populations and their habitats are being threatened by human population growth, she said. The industrialization of China and India has made it possible for fish to be transported to the center of those large countries, where there are many more mouths to feed.
“Other countries around the world don’t think about this like we do,” she said. Today, she said, only 9 percent of the fish we eat is caught in American waters, and 50 percent of fish eaten globally is farmed.
“We cannot all eat salmon, shrimp and tuna,” she said, encouraging chefs to try new varieties and “know the story of your favorite fish.” She gave Lake Erie perch, protected by quotas, a thumbs-up.
“There’s nothing better than a sustainable fish from your own region. . . If we all take a step in the right direction, it can have a pretty big impact.”
Jason Delacruz, fishing company owner and partner with My Gulf Wild, a New Orleans non-profit exploring the health of fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico, talked about contemporary fishing practices there. His company tags fish as they are caught, so the buyer can know its origin.
“A lot of restaurants have no idea what they’re getting,” he said, recalling a genetic test in Louisiana showing that 1/3 of the grouper sold in participating restaurants was not grouper at all. His crew signs contracts to carry out the tagging honestly, and he has installed cameras in several of his boats to monitor the processing.
Julie Watson, program director for My Gulf Wild, said she’s now staging cook-offs for chefs using lesser known fish. A similar event was held in Cleveland last week, with Doug Katz of Fire Food and Drink and Jonathon Sawyer of The Greenhouse Tavern collaborating on a “Trash Fish Dinner.”
Last up, Jason Mosley profiled his company, Verlasso, the only farm-raised ocean salmon company to be recommended by Seafood Watch. They received a “good alternative” rating, just below “best choice.”
Mosley said Verlasso got the rating in part because of its policy not to kill wildlife preying on salmon farms it runs on the coast of Chile; for not using hormones; giving fish more room to live, and for leaving farmed areas fallow for at least three months after harvest to let the ocean floor rebuild. They also use 75 percent less wild fish to feed the salmon, supplementing instead with yeasts containing Omega 3 fatty acids. It ordinarily takes 4-5 pounds of fish feed to raise a pound of salmon, he said.
“We’ve been in the market three years and we’ve saved six million pounds of feeder fish.” The brand is carried at Heinen’s supermarkets, which spearheaded the launch here. Each speaker got a warm reception.
Mike Singer, buyer for Buehler’s supermarkets, said the issue of fish sustainability is increasingly on the mind of his customers.
Dick Kanatzar, chef at Vaccaro’s Trattoria in Akron, said he’s been surprised at the wide range of fish considered sustainable. He likes the idea of fish being tagged.
“As chefs, we know how food should taste,” he said. “We don’t always know its carbon footprint.”
He’s tried Verlasso and liked it, and so have his customers. The price of Faroe Island salmon from the North Atlantic is equivalent, but he sees a big difference in environmental methods.
“It’s a no-brainer,” he said.