Friday, May 14, 2010
No More Steelhead at PPFM
We've read your emails, we've taken in the conversations at the market, we've had sustainability representatives speak at our meetings, and we've asked the tough questions to our suppliers. Our commitment is to make a difference and we can do that on many fronts, the supply of our seafood being one. We're constantly educating ourselves and understand sustainability to be a process and one that starts with no longer carrying wild steelhead.
Identified as a "species of concern" by the National Marine Fisheries Service in 1998, Steelhead trout has always been a hot-button issue for the pacific northwest all the way down into southern California. The map on the right comes from the Office of Protected Resources and provides a visual of steelhead's status as "threatened" yellow and "endangered" in red. The map is relatively small and hard to see, so click here to see it in full size.
Steelhead are similar to some Pacific salmon in their life cycle and ecological requirements. They are born in fresh water streams, where they spend their first 1-3 years of life. They then emigrate to the ocean where most of their growth occurs. After spending between one to four growing seasons in the ocean, steelhead return to their native fresh water stream to spawn. Unlike Pacific salmon, steelhead do not necessarily die after spawning and are able to spawn more than once. To the taste, they are more lean and mild tasting salmon.
As a fish market with power and responsibility for who we are on this planet, steelhead no longer fits in with our intention to provide sustainable seafood.
Although for years we've provided a variety of steelhead not present on the "endangered" list from the Olympic Peninsula here in Washington, the issue is much larger than we can begin to explain. It's now our intention to find a more sustainably managed variety of ocean going trout in the future (perhaps an aquaculture version). Efforts are widespread to better manage the populations and possibly recover the depletion of this species, and we fully support these, but the sale of wild steelhead will no longer occur at Pike Place Fish.
Please read further reports and information about this species here at the following links.