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Heard the Buzz round the world on Steelhead??

December 28th, 2008 · No Comments · guests ideas, Seafood

Finishing up my Saturday night here at Visions, and just HAD TO POST about what an experience it’s been getting railed by at first, being educated, and befriending the “Pacific Northwest Steelheaders” and my new friend Todd Ripley. His story is two sided, he works with the Wild Steelhead Coalition for his passion about the Steelhead population, and his company rvrfshr Products sells “Specialty Steelhead Tackle…Correct in Design”. You see, Todd was involved in my most active post to date from about two weeks ago. I had put up information from a local supplier about the availability of Steelhead in the coming months. Since I had served many times at McCormick & Schmick’s (my prior gig before opening up Visions), I was excited to see it back! Well, little did I know the people I was going to stir up with that post, as well as the education I’d soon be receiving!

My post got picked up by Todds group out in Seattle, Washington and soon, I was waking up to my iphone registering over 50 visitors/members on my blog, all related to that post. You can see the whole thing here, but needless to say, it was really an amazing study in the power of the internet, the instant communication we now enjoy globally, and what (in my humble opinion) can be done when people come together and work out a solution.

Not only was I educated and changed my plans, but more importantly, my excellent supplier took a great stand and decided to cease selling stellhead.  I have been given permission to post his email to me and other local DC Chefs (perhaps other areas) that he sells to, relating to the current state of the Steelhead population.

For the Chef:
We thought you should know – we will no longer be distributing steelhead.
The Washington state population from the Quinault River, from which we have been getting our fish, is considered by the state Fish and Wildlife Department to be “healthy” and “well managed” by the Quinault Tribe.  However, elsewhere along the U.S. West Coast, south to California and north to Canada, all other steelhead populations are very low, so low in fact that in the U.S. these populations are considered to be either “endangered” or “threatened with extinction” under the Endangered Species Act.  They have been driven to this precarious level because of too many dams on their spawning rivers blocking migration up and downriver, excessive logging of ancient rainforest in their watersheds (just 3% remains), unwise use of hatcheries which produce less fit adults whose genes can be transmitted during spawning resulting in weakening of the wild stocks, and previous overfishing now largely eliminated (essentially all sport fishing, when even allowed, is catch-and-release). The tribes of Washington state are to our knowledge the only ones taking steelhead for commercial sale and they do so only within the boundaries of their reservation for which they alone have this right under law.
In the interest of doing what we can to help conserve this species and provide the seed stock which may be needed to allow this species’ eventual recovery elsewhere, we think we should refrain from providing consumer demand for this fishery both here in DC and in our Georgia and South Carolina market areas.  We think as many wild fish should be left in the Quinault River as possible as brood stock to maintain that population in as healthy a state as possible.
Jim Chambers
Founder/OwnerPrime Seafood, LLC

I take my hat off to Jim for his commitment to the stock of Steelhead and his business.  I know his decisions were well received by the incredibly passionate folks over in Washington State.  One of those passionate people just happened to be in Maryland over last week and honored me with a visit for dinner last night.

Todd Ripley (www.wildsteelheatcoalition.com) connected with me through the discussion and visited with family last night, even being so kind to bring a great bottle of Merlot from his home state to add to my collection.  We chatted a bit after dinner about what he does and how they approach the education side of representing their mission, to return the steelhead populations back to sustainable levels through education, training and communication with restaurateurs, wholesalers and fishermen as well.  He is a genuinely nice guy, and we shared many interesting points also about the state of customers awareness about what they are eating and where it comes from.   I think there is quite a bit to be learned by people (understand, I have my points to learn too) about food supplies and where
our food comes from, how it is raised, killed, harvested, etc.  I was just hearing a movie review about corn and how much it influences the American population.  I’m ready to watch that in my Netflix cue, I’ll review when it’s done.
Todd & Chef Tony at Visions

Well, I’m at Visions now, so I should be getting back to my work, but I want to say “Thank You!” to my readers, my suppliers, and Todd Ripley for stopping in.  Here’s a pic to prove that even Coast to Coast, through keeping open minds, and open communciations, we can always find a solution to any “problem”.  DON’T EAT STEELHEAD, OR SUPPORT THOSE RESTURANTS WHO DO!

Here’s the original post, in case you can’t find it…

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