Sustainable seafood is as important as any other sustainable production. If we’d like more fish, we need to protect our oceans.
As part of SHED’s passion for sustainability, highlighted all this month as part of Healdsburg’s commitment to protecting and celebrating our environment, we source our seafood from TwoxSea, a San Francisco-based distributor changing the way that seafood is farmed, caught, and handled.
Looked at one way, Two X Sea co-owner Kenny Belov launched his business from a lie. As the co-owner of Fish Restaurant in Sausalito, Belov came to understand that the commercial fishermen who supplied him weren’t telling the truth about the quality and source of their catch.
To better understand what it takes to deliver fish to the restaurant, Belov and his partner Bill Foss purchased a salmon trawler. They made a point of meeting with other fisherman and learning exactly how the profession was done. Ahead of their time (this was back in 2004 when the idea of sustainable seafood), Belov says, “wasn’t something in discussion to the extremes it is now.”
Based on what he saw out on the high seas, Belov started to adjust the menu at Fish, but he still wasn’t entirely confident. With each delivery, he wanted to know the fisherman’s name, vessel, and proof that the fish came from a particular source. By 2008, Belov and his partner concluded, “That was just not a reality in seafood.”
“It wasn’t like ordering your dairy or beef or chicken,” he says. “It was much harder to really get to the source of where our seafood was coming from.”
By the end of 2009, Belov and Foss took matters into their own hands and launched a business devoted to the sustainable harvesting of the sea. The company embraces six sustainability criteria, which include avoiding the loss of marine life through unwanted bycatch, restoring regional cuisines by honoring seasonal and local availability, and tracing the origin of each fish back to the boat on which it was caught.
As a Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program business partner, SHED is also committed to engaging with customers regarding the seasonality and availability of fish stocks.
Currently, more than a third of the ocean’s fish stocks are overexploited or collapsed due to overfishing and lack of conservation and management strategies. Looking ahead, Belov cites anchovies and herring as examples of fisheries that could be better utilized in the San Francisco Bay Area. Still, he has hope for a renewable future for our oceans, “You can sit back and complain and you can be the one who does things. It’s been a lot of work and a lot of effort, but it’s been worth it.”