The reviewer, a restaurant critic for the NYT, recalls a friend who had caught a small bluefin off the New Jersey coast on a fishing excursion and within hours it was carved up for a rare experience.
"Nothing I had ever eaten could have prepared me. The bluefin tuna you get at restaurants, even the best ones, has been flash-frozen and thawed, is days — or weeks — old, has traveled thousands and thousands of miles. In a bite of that absolutely fresh tuna from New Jersey, I experienced a taste of truly wild food, a majestic flavor, something incredibly rare.
And as it melted on my tongue and receded into memory, I felt guilt and doubt and fear. Will my children, who demurred in eating the fish that day, ever have a chance to eat bluefin tuna? Will their children? Will anyone? Should they? What are we really to do with these fish?"
Indeed, "Wild fish were once everywhere, of course, in such numbers as to astound. (And still, Greenberg reports, the current global catch of wild fish measures 170 billion pounds a year, “the equivalent in weight to the entire human population of China.”) Wild fish seemed to be, as Greenberg puts it, “a crop, harvested from the sea, that magically grew itself back every year. A crop that never required planting.”
I can recall the devastation which resulted when Newfoundland fishermen faced a total ban of northern cod fishing in 1992. For a hundred years the Grand Banks produced boatloads of gigantic fish that could be scooped up from the heavy nets. That scenario of loss has been repeated on so many global fronts since then.