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October 20, 2008

Save the Sea Kittens: Fish Naming Gets Slippery

An article in The Tyee got me thinking about the problems and difficulties related to fish naming. The fact is that nobody is going to eat a fish with a weird name.

orangerougy.jpgSlimeheads were not a big hit until they were renamed "orange roughy," and stumpknockers just wouldn't sell until they were renamed "spotted sunfish." Canadian fishermen used to curse "whore's eggs" that were caught in their nets, now they are resold to sushi lovers as "spicy sea urchin." It seems that when a fish's name shifts from "dogfish" to "rock salmon" we suddenly see an increase in consumer demand, which can then lead to over fishing.

Similarly, US catfish growers no longer sell catfish, they now sell "Delacata." This new name is meant to give it an edge over Asian imitators who use the name "Pangasius."

Sushi lovers with a conscience are now looking carefully at fish naming: New fish pocket guides are designed to help us differentiate between sustainable tuna and bluefin, big-eye or yellowfin. Wild Pacific salmon sushi is okay, but farm-raised salmon is not. And you better not get caught eating fish roe from Maine - the good stuff comes from Canada.

PETA is taking things one step further by trying to discourage us from eating any fish at all by campaigning to have all fish renamed "Sea-Kittens" while at the same time pushing to "Save the Sea Kittens."

SeaKittens.pngAs one activist puts it the "Lives of Sea Kittens" site, "I never eat anyone I know personally. I wouldn't deliberately eat a grouper any more than I'd eat a cocker spaniel."

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Posted by William Lozito at October 20, 2008 8:39 AM
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