The current boycott of Chilean sea bass is being aggressively promoted by organizations like SeaWeb (the perpetrator of the earlier “give swordfish a break” campaign), the National Audubon Society, and the National Environmental Trust. As a recent Boston Herald article makes clear, these multi-million-dollar activist groups are the goliaths of this story; it’s industry that is being outspent by “conservation groups… with deeper pockets and murkier agendas.”

Fishermen and restaurateurs that the Herald interviewed all had serious misgivings about these agendas and the activists pushing them. Here’s a sampling of their concerns:

“Some of these folks who support these causes are well-meaning, but I don’t feel they have all the facts.”

“They don’t want you to eat cod, because it’s [supposedly] depleted. But if you talk to fishermen, which these people don’t do, they say they’ve never seen so much cod.”

“I wrote a letter to [the Monterey Bay Aquarium] and said they’re dead wrong about lobster. Lobster is a low-tech industry that does no damage and is highly regulated. There’s no issue. That’s what scares me about these groups; when I asked about it, they had no explanation for me.”

“There’s something else there. I don’t know what it is, but there’s a lot of money behind these groups.”

Earlier this year the U.S. Departments of State and Commerce published a brochure on Chilean sea bass. This information bulletin notes that the fish is not endangered, and adds that U.S. consumers only eat “15 to 20 percent of the worldwide Chilean sea bass catch.”

Do these fishy boycotts actually accomplish anything? Said the chef/owner of one Boston restaurant, “I thought it was a fiasco. All it did was hurt local fishermen.”