You’ve heard it before: Our oceans contain some of Earth’s most imperiled habitats. Shellfish beds, coral reefs and seagrass meadows once bustling with life have been depleted, and critical fish stocks have plummeted. Less than 1 percent of our oceans are currently protected. There’s even a giant garbage patch twice the size of Texas floating in the Pacific.

So, what will motivate people to take action and save our marine resources?

Maybe the quickest path to people’s hearts is actually through their stomachs. Chef Jonathan Seningen thinks that might be the case, and after four memorable courses of fish at his D.C. restaurant Hook, I’m pretty convinced too.

Hook reaches people by tempting their palettes with new types of fish — in its quest to serve only fish with stable populations, Hook has dished up more than 125 species in its first three years. Hook also sources as much local fish as possible — a task that can be challenging.

Chefs and restaurateurs are situated at a unique intersection between the people who catch the fish and those of us who eat it. And what’s “sustainable” isn’t always black and white.

Can a fresh look at food provide a new tool to support conservation? And, on the flipside, can conservation help bring back some favorite local foods? Read the feature on my visit to Hook and find out.

Kate Frazer is a senior conservation writer with The Nature Conservancy based in Boston.

(Image: Inside D.C. restaurant Hook. Source: Moshe Zusman.)

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  1. Hook is one of my favorite restaurants in DC. I had the best butterfish – literally melts in your mouth.

  2. Does anybody really think that sustainability means anything at all to the fish that have been ‘sustainably’ harvested? Does anybody really think that dead fish are happier if the species isn’t being threatened? Of course not. They’re dead. They couldn’t care less about the fate of the species and that means sustainability is about us, not fish. It’s anthropocentric, as usual.

  3. I beg to differ. The whole point of a species is to continue the species. This is very easily shown through species of spiders in which the male is consumed after fertilizing the female. The male will stay attached as long as possible to insure that as much sperm is released as possible to further his genes.
    It isn’t all about living as an individual.

  4. The thought of eating seafood anymore just sickens me. We’ve got to stop using plastics. I realize some of it isn’t avoidable, but for the most part we can use green industrial supplies. They are available, just a little more expensive.

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