All of the fish, meat and produce served at Oliveto Cafe and Restaurant in Oakland is sustainably raised, says Maggie Klein, one of the restaurant’s owners. So it wasn’t a hard decision for them to be one of 14 restaurants in the U.S. to take part in the Fish ‘n’ Flicks series—a screening of The End of the Line, about overfishing, and a dinner of sustainable seafood.
The movie, which warns that at the current rate of fishing, fish stocks will be depleted by the middle of the century, is based on the book of the same name by environmental journalist Charles Clover. The documentary has been a huge success in the United Kingdom and led to the creation of a web site rating seafood restaurants on sustainability, Fish2Fork.
The movie, narrated by Ted Danson, shows the collapse of the once thriving cod fishery in New England, which put 40,000 people out of work in a short period of time; that seven million tons of dead fish is tossed back over the side of boats because it’s by catch; how rays have taken over in the Chesapeake Bay since their predators, the hammerhead shark, have been overfished; and the damage done by bottom trawlers, which, as one man says in the film, “would make an angel weep.”
While pointing out that 80 percent of the world’s fish stocks have been fished to their limit, the movie also offers hope, saying this is a solvable problem.
After the screening, and before a dinner of truffled crab on toast, braised cod, squid and mussels, and blood orange sherbet (sustainability can be so delicious!) Tom Worthington, a founder of the Monterey Fish Market, who supplies Oliveto’s seafood, offered some suggestions as to how to make a difference.
“The power lies in our hands as consumers,” Worthington said. “We need to make bluefin tuna as unsexy as possible and make sardines as sexy as possible.”
Along with bluefin tuna, consumers should stay far away from farmed salmon, and black tiger shrimp, which are both incredibly destructive to ecosystems, Worthington says.
In an email, Clover writes about half of all fish is eaten in restaurants, which is why they created Fish2Fork (which rates Oliveto as one of the most sustainable restaurants in the U.S.) In Europe the website has led to some restaurants changing their menus as well as many no longer serving bluefin tuna.
The End of the Line is available on DVD February 23. It can be ordered here.
Monterey Seafood Watch