Rick Moonen

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I, of course, had been going to the food and fish market purchasing my seafood at the restaurant that I was the chef at the time. $12 million a year restaurant, I purchased a significant amount of swordfish. So, I saw the size of the swordfish diminishing from 200 pounds and up to under 100 pounds and became the average size of swordfish that would show up at the market called the Pup, and the reason they're called pups is because they're not even old enough to reproduce yet.

Knowing that this transaction has been happening before my eyes over the years that I'd been at the restaurant, I signed on to the campaign saying, I can see this happening and it's really important that we're more responsible. Sustainable seafood to me is, I define it in my restaurant as not actively taking participation in the extinction of any species of the planet, and it has so many moving parts to that.

It's habitat destruction, overfishing which is just technology outpacing the capability of a species to keep up with the hunt, and there's bite-catch issues. So, if you're going after one species of fish you inadvertently catch a lot of species that you didn't expect to, very, very wasteful, and one of the issues is, for me is that we have a narrow scope of what we enjoy eating, and that places an an unbelievable burden upon the species of fish that we've decide is delicious.

Salmon is the number one selling finfish, the most popular fish in the United States, as well as globally. Because it's so popular, it's about the heavy concentration, it's about over taxing, overburdening the environment. Usually, the most sustainable fish are the ones lower on the food chain. because we are at the top of the food chain, or that's what we consider ourselves, so we're always trying to eat the largest fish, the tunas, the swordfish and everything else.

So, if we go further down the food chain, first of all, they're more healthy for you because they have less toxins that we've polluted the oceans with, methylmercury, and PCBs and dioxins. So, if people started to shift their mentality a little bit and to become more expansive on their acceptance of the multitude of species that are available to us, then the larger species that we enjoy today will have a chance to recover because nature finds a way.

Being sustainable has challenged my cuisine. The problem with unsustainable fish is they're usually the most delicious, and the easiest to cook such as Chilean Sea Bass, it's a fish that is hard to mess up. You can overcook a fish with that texture and that fat content and it's still going to come out moist and delicious, so that's always been a challenge for me.

So for me, I'm always seeking out the lesser known, the more interesting species like right now I have Cobia on my menu, and people, they don't have an idea what Cobia is. So, the challenge that goes along with that is educating my staff and getting my guests to take a step out and to some people's mind, on the wild side, to try this fish and once they do they find out that it's absolutely delicious, and there's plenty of food on the planet to feed the population of man, but if we're not more responsible about it we're going to diminish that to the point where we're going to starve.