In an effort to bolster their floundering campaign to “Take A Pass on Chilean Sea Bass” — which aims to convince consumers and chefs to boycott the tasty fish — the National Environmental Trust (NET) has released a fishy report spinning yarns of “pirates who plunder the seas” and “ghost companies” aligned to “smuggle” fish into “rogue ports.” It’s one whopper of a story that deserves to be tossed back. By the end, NET somehow concludes that Chilean sea bass should be classified as “endangered.”

Is Chilean sea bass an endangered species? No.” That’s according to a 2002 joint statement by the U.S. Departments of Commerce and State. And while NET whines that we import 8,500 tons of sea bass, that same government statement concluded that the U.S. “imports around 10,000 tons.” In other words, Chilean sea bass isn’t endangered, even at domestic consumption levels higher than NET reports.

So why is NET force feeding us a solution in search of a problem? In 2002, a Boston Herald article called the groups seeking to boycott fish “the ones with deeper pockets and murkier agendas.” Diners denied a chance to try Bon Appetit magazine’s 2001 “Dish of the Year” should look to the big-name foundations whose money keeps these groups afloat. In fact, the National Environmental Trust is basically a Pew Charitable Trust subsidiary. Pew set it up and remains its biggest donor by far (over $35 million to date). And perpetuating food scares is nothing new for Pew, which also gave more than $7 million dollars to fund an equally unnecessary campaign to
boycott swordfish.