|The Sustainable Seafood Initiative
In October 2002, several of Charleston's finest chefs and restaurants came together with the South Carolina Aquarium, the South Carolina Seafood Alliance, the Coastal Conservation League, Johnson and Wales University, and the University of South Carolina to address the status of certain seafood species in the wild and, as a result, created the Sustainable Seafood Initiative. The SSI was designed not only to educate but also to serve as a model for others in the seafood industry. Participating restaurants make every effort to obtain seafood from sustainable and whenever possible domestic and local sources. The restaurants also have pledged to remove Chilean Sea Bass, Orange Roughy and Shark from their menus due to concerns of the species' status.
Fishy Fish Facts
Orange Roughy (Hoplostethus atlanticus): The orange roughy, formerly known as “slimehead”, is a slow growing deep-water fish. Since this fish grows slowly, it doesn’t mature until it is twenty years old. It spawns in large groups and is easy to over-fish them if not properly managed. Harvest is well regulated in some countries, though over-fishing is still occurring in other areas. In addition, the method of harvest, bottom trawls, may cause sever damage to slow growing corals.
- Lifespan: can live over 100 years
- Size: about 4 lbs.
- Distribution: found in the waters of Australia and New Zealand, the Southern Indian Ocean and the north-east Atlantic.
- Sexual Maturity: 20- 30 years of age
Chilean Sea Bass (Dissostichus eleginoides): This animal is a slow growing inhabitant of deep Antarctic Ocean waters and is also referred to as a Patagonian toothfish. Since it is slow growing and reaches maturity at ten to twelve years of age, it is at much greater risk than many other species. Harvest is regulated in most areas, but the overall population is in peril. Many loopholes exist in regulations and illegal fishing is a substantial problem.
- Lifespan: 45-50 years
- Size: up to 286 lbs.
- Distribution: found in the Southern Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans.
- Sexual Maturity: 10-12 years of age
Shark: Sharks grow slowly, produce few young and become sexually mature at older ages than bony fishes. This makes them a poor target for sustainable fishing, since they are often caught before they can reproduce; populations, which were small, become even smaller. To be sustainable, shark populations must be strictly managed. In recent years the shark management in the United States has succeeded in bringing most local, marketable populations back to a sustainable level.
- Lifespan: ranges from 20 years for Nurse Sharks to 100 years for Great Whites.
- Size: Ranges from 5 feet to 46 feet. Mako Sharks (most common in restaurants) are usually 5-8 feet.
- Distribution: Inhabit every ocean in the world.
- Sexual Maturity: Varies, but are known to produce very few young.
- King mackerel
- Blue Crabs
- Farm raised clams
- Albacore, Yellowfin Tuna
- Red Snapper
In recent years a new fishery has developed for a species that was formerly considered rare, or unknown in the western North Atlantic. This is a globally distributed species, the Wreckfish, Polyprion americanus.
The Wreckfish is a large bottom-living fish similar to a grouper, but which is classified in its own family, Polyprionidae. The Wreckfish commonly exceeds 100 cm (3.2 ft) total length and 30 kg (66 lbs) total weight, and lives in depths from 42-1000 m (138-3,281 ft) as adults. It is called Wreckfish because as juveniles they tend to congregate around “wreck lines” – the floating masses of drift wood and sea weed that build up where two ocean currents meet.
Until recently, Wreckfish were considered rare in American waters, and the only data on American Wreckfish were occurrence records of pelagic juveniles. It is uncertain where or at what size or age they descend to the bottom, where the adults are caught in U.S. fisheries.
Wreckfish are found throughout the Atlantic Ocean, but the only place they are harvested in the U.S. is about 70 miles off our coast on the Charleston Bump, which deflects the warm Gulf Stream waters offshore, causing upwelling of bottom waters. There are very few boats that catch Wreckfish and most of the harvest is landed just south of Charleston on Wadmalaw Island.
As a result, Wreckfish has become a truly sustainable seafood resource. We are proud to serve Wreckfish at Fish as full partners in the Sustainable Seafood Initiative.