Friday, April 18, 2008

Red Snapper

I am amazed by how popular our whole roasted snapper has been this past week. We sold out each night that we offered them.

While our snappers are red in color and customers call them Red Snapper, they are not true Red Snapper, Lutjanus campechanus, a highly prized and heavily sought fish found over rocky areas and reefs on both coasts of the US and in the Gulf of Mexico. Sadly, true Red Snapper is consistently overfished, so we do not offer it on the menu here.

When we buy snapper for our menu, we specify B-liners or Vermilion Snapper, Rhomboplites aurorubens, an abundant snapper whose fishery seems to be fairly well managed, at least as far as I can tell sitting here in the restaurant.

While we are consciously trying to sell B-liners because they don't appear to be overfished, other unscrupulous companies sell B-liners as true Red Snapper. This is simple profiteering—selling a less valuable species as a more valuable species.

Another contributing factor is that some fisherman call any snapper with red skin a Red Snapper. Such species include Vermilion Snapper, Lane Snapper, Mutton Snapper, and Silk Snapper.

Once such fish gets to retail as fillets, it is very difficult to determine what species is on offer, DNA studies aside. This is another reason I only buy whole fish.

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