Beyond the PR Stunt That Was the "Blacklisted Seafood" Dinner Legal Seafood's Blacklist Fish Dinner Beyond the PR Stunt That Was the "Blacklisted Seafood" Dinner Legal Seafood's Blacklist Fish Dinner
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Beyond the PR Stunt That Was the "Blacklisted Seafood" Dinner Legal Seafood's Blacklist Fish Dinner

by Peter Smith, Nicola Twilley

January 29, 2011

Well, last night was the big one for seafood snuff in Boston, where 50 lucky diners ate Atlantic cod cheeks, white hake, and farmed Vietnamese black tiger shrimp at Legal Sea Foods. If you're keeping score, that menu goes three for three on the Monterey Bay Aquarium's list (pictured to the left) of seafood to avoid because its population numbers are too low or because it is "caught or farmed in ways that harm other marine life or the environment."

The Culinary Guild of New England, which sponsored Berkowitz's blacklist fish dinner, claimed that their goal was simply to "bring awareness to some of the inherent complexity that exists within sustainability in the seafood industry." That's a fair point.

But the more important point is that, however you measure them, Atlantic cod stocks are a long way beneath their potential carrying capacity. So, in the face of human responsibility for the precipitous decline of marine life, is awareness of the complexities of blacklisting actually helpful?

In that way, the blacklisted seafood dinner illustrates a larger problem, one that might be familiar to those following the debate over climate science. When there's little doubt that human actions are having a significant negative impact on an ecosystem, does a greater awareness of the complexity of the science involved help or hinder our ability to act?

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Beyond the PR Stunt That Was the "Blacklisted Seafood" Dinner Legal Seafood's Blacklist Fish Dinner