Wednesday, September 02, 2009: Waves; Strong 3- to 5-foot short-period northerly groundswell. Water clarity: Good.
The poke of fall continues. We are stuck in a northeast wind pattern that simply won’t quit any time soon. There will even be some spits thrown in by Thursday. This is not the best thing for Holgate, as high tides will be shutting down the far South End everyday. Those wind-enhanced tides will be pushed along even further by a waxing moon. Very little chance of getting back at the clam flats.
This stir should perk striper fishing. It wont be a big influx of migratory fish, just a moving of the healthy resident population closer to the beaches and inlets.
Seems the black seabass closure was voted down at the ASMFC meeting. That is good for a time-being way. The fishery is reeling under the added pressure from folks not doing well fluking. It needs huge help but not necessarily snap action like an emergency closure. I’m not sure if this precludes cutbacks in the bag limit or increased size limits. My feeling is a lessening of the fluke regs for 2010 would automatically lessen the pressure on seabass. I doubt very much if such a sensible approach will be taken, as talk is already underway as to what should be done about Jersey’s 2009 fluke overages.
“Jay, I’m not an angler but read your column faithfully. I have taken a course in sushi-making and wonder about locally caught fish, beside tuna, that are good for sashimi and sushi. Ann.”
That’s a tasty question, pun intended.
You might think, with my chef training and constant references to eating fish, that I’d have a slew of sushi suggestions for local fish. Not so, short of tuna and more tuna. I say that guardedly since anything solidly fresh can be made into fabulous sushi and sashimi. The problem is most folks only like the very mildest of flavors when it comes to raw fish.
Obviously, bluefish is out.
Striped bass is moderately flavored but surely not everyone’s cup of raw fish tea.
I’m always surprised at how strong-tasting fluke is, though it is frequently found on many sushi menus hereabouts. Except for hardcore sushi-ites, fluke will get one taste and that’s all she ate.
Tog and seabass, similar in texture and taste, are both strong, though hugely popular in Asian communities – thus the trade in undersized live fish of this type.
Weakfish is too strong for even me, despite having a slight shrimp flavor.
Eel is basically un-sushiable until it is cooked or smoked, then it is incredible.
Never eat blowfish raw. Though the famed toxins are bare minimum for blowfish this far north, some blowfish innards can still sicken – I know too well.
Winter flounder does not taste like summer flounder but is still very strongly fishy tasting.
Fresh bay scallops are fairly good raw but are so much better lightly heated it’s hardly worth thinking sushi. Ocean scallops can easily be sushied.
Kingfish makes a decent sashimi if cut into paper-thin slices. Otherwise it’s as strong as most nearshore species.
Skate is not very good sushied.
I fully realize I’ve cut out (pun intended) just about all species outside tuna. However, anyone of moderate or above sushi/sashimi appreciation will savor the white meat of our common nearshore species. Unfortunately, 95 percent of Jersey sushi-eaters are novices, despite claiming to “love” sushi. Making the above species into rolls – which is not true sushi by the thinking of many sushi aficionados -- can lighten the flavor.
Not good at all: Trying to disguise the flavor with loads of wasabi and soy sauce. This not only defeats the purpose of enjoying raw fish flavor but even the best sushi preparers and eaters are on guard for the slightest off taste of a product. That can’t be detected through excessive wasabi and soy sauce.
Suggestion: Using sushi-making techniques, lightly cook fish then sushi it up either warm or cold.
Remember: Much of the magic of sushi is in the rice, as you know from your course. A trick I use – one that won me a second-place at a major sushi event in Hawaii – is a small short of sake in with the (top quality) rice vinegar. Also, using a raw sugar instead of a super refined one adds a fuller flavor and better pressing quality. A pressure cooker always makes the best sushi rice. Never add extra flavoring to the rice, always add atop the final product. Best additional flavor: sesame seeds.
In the news:
PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX] - September 1, 2009 -
WASHINGTON, The Pew Environment Group today joined 14 fishing and conservation organizations and more than 55,000 members of the general public in urging the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to reject its current proposal to allow commercial long-line fishermen to catch and sell more Atlantic bluefin tuna, an iconic species nearing collapse.
Approximately 55,000 citizens filed comments urging NMFS to protect western Atlantic bluefin tuna by implementing an area closure on long-line gear in the Gulf of Mexico, the only known spawning area for the species. Scientists estimate that the number of mature western Atlantic bluefin tuna has dropped more than 80% since 1970, and fewer than 20,000 adults may remain. Much of this decline comes from the intense commercial fishing and incidental killing (bycatch) by vessels targeting yellowfin tuna and swordfish.
'Atlantic bluefin tuna, one of the largest and most valuable fish in the oceans, is in dire straits,' said Lee Crockett, director of Federal Fisheries Policy, Pew Environment Group. 'We now have the opportunity to restore this fish to healthy levels. The question is whether or not the National Marine Fisheries Service will finally take the necessary and bold steps to protect bluefin in U.S. waters.'
Directed commercial fishing for bluefin tuna in the Gulf of Mexico has been banned since 1982, but long-line fishermen targeting swordfish and yellowfin tuna are allowed to keep up to three incidentally-caught bluefin tuna per trip. Despite critically low population levels and the current ban, NMFS has proposed allowing commercial long-line fishermen to catch and sell more fish than currently allowed by law.
Bluefin tuna command a large price in the marketplace - up to thousands of dollars per fish. Allowing fishermen just two more of these fish per trip creates a strong economic incentive to set long-line gear in the only known spawning areas. Given the small population size of mature fish, any increase in mortality decreases the chance of rebuilding the stock.
'Anything we can do to protect these fragile species in their spawning areas in the Gulf of Mexico would benefit all user groups,' said Ray Rosher, renowned Miami-based charter captain. 'And the conservation of these species is crucial to all user groups.'
In addition to protecting bluefin tuna, the ban would help conserve populations of white and blue marlin - both are categorized as subject to overfishing and are severely depleted. Endangered leatherback and threatened loggerhead sea turtles, which are caught and killed unintentionally by long-lines, would also benefit from the closure.
The Pew Environment Group is working to secure a closure of sea surface long-line fishing for yellowfin tuna and swordfish in the Gulf of Mexico to protect bluefin tuna and other ocean wildlife.
The Pew Environment Group is the conservation arm of The Pew Charitable Trusts.