Panel Debates Sustainable Seafood

LA Weekly food critic Jonathan Gold and brother Mark Gold, president of Heal the Bay, joined Santa Monica Seafood VP Logan Kock and Providence chef Michael Cimarusti to discuss sustainably-sourced seafood. Zocalo Public Square hosted the event, called "Will Seafood Become A Delicacy?" at the Skirball Cultural Center last night, free to the general public.

The inspiration for the topic came from something Chef Mark Peel said to Jonathan Gold fifteen years ago: "In 40 years, it will be as odd to eat wild fish as it is now to eat wild game." To explore the issue, Gold handpicked the panel to represent the stakeholders invested in sustainable seafood: biologists and activists (Mark Gold), wholesale suppliers (Logan Kock), restaurateurs (Michael Cimarusti), and consumers (the 300+ audience).

The panel bemoaned the difficulties of implementing a federal or statewide system for regulating local fisheries and imports. Both Mark Gold and Logan Kock serve as advisers to the California Ocean Protection Council, a group that is trying to create a certification standard for California fisheries. Both also seemed a little world-weary for it, and Mark Gold expressed frustration at the process: "it's almost like it was designed to create so much political in-fighting that it's been a real big problem." The complicated network of existing certifications and regulations became evident throughout the conversation, and the merits of MSC (Marine Stewardship Council), ACC (Aqua Culture Certification), and Monterey Bay Seafood Watch were debated with vigor. Seafood newbies in the audience shouted out, "What's that?" whenever a new acronym popped up, reminding the seafood nerds on the panel to slow down and explain themselves more.

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