Penny pinchers will be forgiven for skipping the shrimp scampi this season. … Prices for shrimp have jumped to a 14-year high in recent months, spurred by a disease that’s ravaging the crustacean’s population. At Noodles & Co., a chain with locations across the country, it costs 29 percent more to add the shellfish to pastas this year, and shrimp-heavy dishes at places like the Cheesecake Factory Inc. are going up as well. … Restaurant chains, already struggling with shaky U.S. consumer confidence, are taking a profit hit as prices climb. Even worse, the surge is happening during the season of Lent, when eateries rely on seafood to lure Christian diners who abstain from chicken, beef and pork on certain days. … At Noodles, it now costs $3.34 to add the shellfish to a meal of pasta or pad thai, compared with $2.59 last year.
Driven to despair by a plague that has laid to waste young shrimps across east Asia, Suraphol Pratuangtham, a seafood farmer in southern Thailand, suspended operations at his ponds for more than three months over the summer. … “This year is the worst for our shrimp production in the past 30 years,” laments Mr Pratuangtham, who is also president of the Thai Marine Shrimp Farmers Association and expects Thailand’s 2013 exports to halve from its peak levels. … The disease, known as early mortality syndrome (EMS), has for more than two years savaged Asia’s shrimp industry, including Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and China. But this year’s plunge in supplies from the region, which accounts for 80 per cent of global production, is the worst yet and led to a sharp rise in global shrimp prices to a 12-year high. … Shrimp is the most traded fish in the international market ahead of salmon and tuna
In 2013, Atlantic Canada was responsible for 68,000 tonnes, or just over half, of the 131,500 tonnes of lobster landed on the east coast of North America last year. And for the 160 fishermen in Lobster Fishing Area 32 off the coast near Dartmouth, N.S., this year’s annual nine-week lobster season (April 19 to June 20) has been breathtaking. So much lobster had been landed in Nova Scotia by the second week of June that the shore price dropped to $3.50 a pound, which was why everyone was so cranky. I’d been calling it a glut until a couple of local exporters begged me to refer to a “bountiful harvest” instead. They didn’t want their customers to think lobster was cheap. ... To a lobster enthusiast, of course, cheap lobster sounds like a good, i.e. delicious, thing. But it never materializes. There is a voodoo to lobster economics. What used to be poor man’s fare, the fallback meal of people too impoverished to afford anything else, is now a billion dollar business and a universal mark of luxury – with the result that a lobster that sells for $3.50 on the wharf can cost $60 and more on a restaurant plate in New York or Toronto or Shanghai, regardless of how many lobsters are pulled from the sea. How this happens is the life story of Larry the Lobster.
Abalone are technically snails. They are also one of the most pursued, regulated, and expensive foods on the planet. ... When threatened, the abalone pulls its armor down tight and grips the sand with its muscular foot. Their shells, which form an asymmetrical spiral, are an engineering marvel, with terraces of tiny hexagonal calcium-carbonate tiles that slide and bend to distribute pressure in a way that maximizes the absolute mathematical limits of their strength and gives them a beautiful iridescence. Abalone need elaborate defenses, because almost everything that eats them finds them incredibly delicious. ... For 100 million years, abalone blanketed the oceans’ floors as their predators evolved from tube-shaped critters to sea stars, fish, octopus, and eventually sea otters and other mammals. When humans moved into North America, abalone became a crucial food source for coastal dwellers. ... Studies of middens (ancient piles of discarded shells) that date back almost three thousand years on San Clemente Island, in Southern California, reveal unimaginable amounts of abalone consumed by native peoples. In fact, islanders cleared the entire island of black abalone before they decided to look for other sources of protein. ... Today, there is no commercial abalone fishing allowed in the United States, which means buying farmed or imported abalone are the only legal options. Only one variety—the red abalone (Haliotis rufescens)—can still be fished recreationally.
This story is more about comfort than you might imagine. It's also about restlessness, and safety, and complacency. Tuna rolls are familiar, but they don't do a lot for the environment. ... Instead of tuna and salmon we'd eat weeds, jellyfish, crisped wax worms—the plants and animals currently demolishing our local ecosystems. After a trip to Louisiana, he even incorporated nutria, a large swamp rodent, into his sashimi repertoire. Early on, customers simply walked out, unable to recognize his inventions as sushi, or even as food.
The glass eel trade is coming under international scrutiny. ... Already, cultured eels account for more than 99% of the world's supplies. But the farming of these eels is totally reliant on elvers born in the wild. ... Although techniques to create artificial breeders to allow for the full cultivation of eels have been established, commercial production, as in the case of tuna, remains impossible. ... A big problem is that much of the glass eel trade essentially takes place in the dark. ... In the fishing season of 2015, for example, 18.3 tons of baby eels were procured domestically, while 3 tons were imported. The volume of eel caught domestically thus came to 15.3 tons. But data from prefectural governments, once tabulated, puts the total amount of domestic catches at 5.7 tons.
The overuse of antibiotics has transformed what had been a hypothetical menace into a clear and present one: superbugs, bacteria that are highly resistant to antibiotics. By British government estimates, about 700,000 people die each year from antibiotic-resistant infections worldwide. If trends continue, that number is expected to soar to 10 million a year globally by 2050—more people than currently die from cancer. ... Research has found that as much as 90 percent of the antibiotics administered to pigs pass undegraded through their urine and feces. This has a direct impact on farmed seafood. The waste from the pigpens at the Jiangmen farm flowing into the ponds, for example, exposes the fish to almost the same doses of medicine the livestock get—and that’s in addition to the antibiotics added to the water to prevent and treat aquatic disease outbreaks. The fish pond drains into a canal connected to the West River, which eventually empties into the Pearl River estuary, on which sit Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hong Kong, and Macau. The estuary receives 193 metric tons (213 tons) of antibiotics a year, Chinese scientists estimated in 2013. ... distribution networks that move the seafood around the world are often as murky as the waters in which the fish are raised. Federal agencies trying to protect public health face multiple adversaries: microbes rapidly evolving to defeat antibiotics and shadowy seafood companies that quickly adapt to health regulations to circumvent them, moving dirty seafood around the world in much the same way criminal organizations launder dirty money. ... China’s rates of drug resistance remain among the highest in the world. ... harvested in China but was passed through Malaysia, where it acquired Malaysian certificates of origin. This illegal transshipping, as the maneuver is called