Food writer Ian McNulty sits down for a meal of under-utilized seafood meant to showcase what diners might be missing in the bounty of the Gulf.
The prospect of an exotic dining experience may conjure the unfamiliar food traditions of far-off lands or ingredients too luxurious for everyday meals. But recently I sat down for an intriguingly original dinner built around seafood that is not only found close to home but is also routinely discarded as soon as it’s caught — or else chopped up as bait to catch other fish.
Pogy, a baitfish more officially called menhaden, make up the second largest commercial catch in the United States. They’re not only resold as baitfish, but they’re also processed into fish oil and fish meal, making their way into vitamins, cosmetics and livestock feeds.
According to federal regulations, Louisiana’s nine-day recreational red snapper fishing season legally starts next weekend. But some fishermen have been landing snapper since the state season started in March — at the risk of also landing a ticket from federal authorities.
The discrepancy between state and federal red snapper authorities is the subject of a bill sponsored by Sen. Bret Allain. Allain wants to put an all-out ban on red snapper, reasoning that if the fisheries are in such dire straits, maybe they shouldn’t be fished at all.
Louisiana anglers and those planning a fishing trip to the state will be able to get information, licenses and a spot to chat online with other fishermen at what state tourism officials call a fishing microsite opening early in January.
Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne says Louisiana is the world's finest fishing destination, and the state wants to help related businesses.
Gulf of Mexico fishing boats hauled in far more menhaden last year than in 2010. Catches of some other important species were above pre-spill levels in some Gulf Coast states. But a federal official says it's too early to rule out long-term effects from the spill.
A national report released Wednesday says the Gulf's menhaden catch last year was nearly 66 percent above that in 2010. Other species also showed increases.
Roy Crabtree of NOAA Fisheries says that's guardedly good news. But he says it's probably too soon to tell whether the spill killed eggs and immature fish.