Food columnist Debbi Snook’s quandary about the ethics of eating Chilean sea bass is unnecessary (“Shortage of a favorite fish puts questions on reviewer’s plate,” Feb. 17). In a publicly available “Frequently Asked Questions” document, the U.S. Departments of State and Commerce ask jointly: “Is Chilean sea bass endangered?” — and answer, “no.”
In February 2002, environmental groups pushing a “Take a Pass on Chilean Sea Bass” campaign warned USA Today that the fish would be “commercially extinct” in just two years. Fishermen are still finding it plentiful four years later, and the Chilean sea bass fishery is one of the most tightly regulated on the planet.
Besides, consumer boycotts of fish don’t stop fishermen from catching their quotas. Activist campaigns serve only to flood the market with unwanted fish, lowering prices and hurting fishermen even more. We learned this in the late 1990s with the equally unnecessary “Give Swordfish a Break” campaign — which cost hundreds of fishermen their jobs. The Atlantic swordfish, like the Chilean sea bass, was never “endangered” in the first place.