America is a Seafood Debtor Nation
More than 80% of our seafood is imported. That’s a problem.
Here’s a crazy statistic: the U.S. controls more ocean than any country on Earth, and yet more than 80% of our seafood is imported. Here’s another one: America’s favorite fish, salmon, comes to us largely in farmed form from other countries. Meanwhile the U.S. catches way more wild salmon than we eat. Mostly we send that abroad. And here’s one more weird one: a lot of our wild salmon gets caught in U.S. waters, frozen, shipped to China, defrosted, filleted, refrozen and sent back to us double frozen. This also happens with the squid, pollock, and many other fish and shellfish we catch right here.
These are just a few of the very weird facts I uncovered when I wrote my book American Catch: The fight for our local seafood. During the research, I scuba dived the bottom of New York harbor, tromped around Vietnamese shrimp farms, traced the Mississippi to its source and scoured the rivers of Alaska’s Bristol Bay region trying to find out why and how the U.S. became a seafood debtor nation. After oil, seafood represents our largest trade imbalance. But more importantly, the loss of local seafood has disconnected us from our own coasts — making us more tolerant of ecosystem destruction and pollution than we should be.
It doesn’t have to be that way. And that’s why I wrote American Catch.
And that’s also why I’m continuing the conversation starting this month with a new podcast called Fish Talk. The first four episodes premiere this October.