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September 24, 1998



Swordfish are one of the world’s most popular fish, both for catching and cooking, which is exactly why we should stop eating them. Prized by chefs, sportsmen and connisieurs alike, and native to both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, this prized seafood appears on every good restaurant menu as often as the chef can find them. Dubbed the steak of the sea by its fans, it’s sweet and impossibly moist meat is as delicious on a kebab as it is inside a puff pastry. Even seafood haters have been converted to fish eating by the pork-like density of its flesh. All of these are reasons why--as wonderful as they are--we should stop eating swordfish.

A nationwide boycott of swordfish has been called by environmentalists in hopes of undoing what decades of over fishing has done to this once plentiful and noble species. Between 1988 and 1995, landings of swordfish on the east coast declined over 40% and those that are caught are seriously undersized and immature. Swordfish as small as 90 lbs. are now the average size being seen by seafood wholesalers. As recently as 10 years ago, 300 pound fish were the norm. Market demand, greed, and long line fishing have thus effectively short-circuited the swordfishes’ reproductive process.

Marine biologists have been warning us about this over fishing since the 1960’s. I even came across a cookbook from the Grand Central Oyster Bar (published in 1977) that echoed these predictions----now ---after 30 years of negligence a concerted effort by some of the country’s top restaurateurs has brought this plight it to the public’s attention. And make no mistake, although this problem centers on Atlantic swordfish—the kind you usually buy in stores--the Pacific variety is also being over fished. Swordfish are truly one of the kings of the sea, they taste great and, unlike salmon or trout, cannot be farmed. For all of these reasons we should stop eating them.

This is John Curtas

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