From Men’s Lives by Peter Matthiessen: Picking and sorting fish, Don Pagliughi on the Donna Lee.
Copyright Photographer Doug Kuntz, 1970’s.
Striped Bass . Tautog . Summer & Winter Flounder . Pollack . Haddock . Atlantic Cod . Monkfish . Weakfish . Bluefish . Scup . Black Bass . Porgy . Sea Bass . Mackerel . Dorado . Wahoo . Marlin . False Albacore . Yellowfin . Bluefin . BigEye Tuna . Mako & Thresher Shark . Lobster . Crabs . Oysters . Scallops . Mussels . Clams . Squid
Written in 2007, A Geography of Oysters by Rowan Jacobsen has won almost every food and cookbook award. His OysteRater Website and Oyster Guide Blog are the definitive oyster resource. A single sentence by Rowan defines my belief in what matters most when we farm our waters. His description of oyster farmers’ impact on our waters is the fact that they have no impact whatsoever.
Oyster farmers don’t put anything into the water except oysters.
And they don’t take anything out of the water except bigger oysters.
It would seem to me that respecting our local waters is the key element to successfully farming our oceans, bays, sounds, rivers, and estuaries. When we speak of rearing and cultivating we are using words that demonstrate our concern and show how much we care for the waters that surround the East End of Long Island.
Aquaculture is about allowing fish to grow in their natural environment protected from chemicals, pesticides, other pollutants, and overfishing.
Billy Joel and the Baymen
In October 1989, Billy Joel released the album Storm Front featuring the song The Downeaster Alexa. He told the tale of a captain lamenting the decimation of the fishing grounds and his inability to feed his family. Mr. Joel created awareness for the farmers of the sea, the baymen forced to fish their downeasters further and further offshore.
In 2015, Billy and his friend Itzhak Perlman, performed The Downeaster Alexa at Madison Square Garden.
Striped Bass in Montauk Harbor
In 1999, the NY Times spoke with Daniel Boulud of Restaurant Daniel, Eric Ripert of Le Bernadin and Rick Moonen of Oceana. These chefs’ credentials are as pristine as the fish they choose to serve in their NYC eateries.
Pen-raised fish will not be found in their kitchens but wild striped bass is regarded as one of the greatest fish in the Atlantic. Stripers should be carefully prepared and their population respected. No doubt Mr. Joel and his public outcry made a difference in fishing for and the serving of striped bass.
If you happen to be in Sag Harbor you may see the real Alexa docked in the village harbor. In the picture below the downeaster with white superstructure and orange details is the Alexa! We have been the recipient of Alexa’s water cannon at Montauk’s Blessing of the Fleet! BTW … Billy is still very actively fighting for the baymen.
Billy Joel’s Downeaster Alexa in Sag Harbor Marina
I will be continuing with aquaculture in the next few posts. Consider that protecting the waters and the fish we eat begins on the land, and organizations like the Peconic Land Trust are essential. There is much to talk about!
Commercial Fishing Boats in Montauk Harbor
Lagniappe [lan-yap]: Cajun for a little something extra
Thank you for taking the time to follow my story. Every week I add an extra link, one that I hope is worth a few moments of your time.
This week, Dock to Dish Montauk.
This program was organized by lifelong fisherman and restaurateur Sean Barrett, along with thirty-one small-scale commercial fishermen and traditional shellfish harvesters, who are the last of their kind in the region.
This alliance of tradesmen and artisans shared over five hundred years of experience on the water and believed the best way to experience local seafood is the way it had been done historically—when the catch of the day was really caught that day—or as close to that day as possible.
Dock to Dish is supported by:
- National Geographic
- The NY Times
- The United Nations Foundation
Please send me your thoughts, a picture, or a question. Enjoy some of our local seafood and
call us or email us to book your stay.
It’s been my pleasure,