Mailbag: Prez, Funders Gobble Protected Fish!

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As if the Foley scandal, Woodward’s new book and the midterm elections weren’t troubles enough for the GOP, along comes a fish scandal.

Last week, Josh quoted a White House pool report on a Connecticut fundraiser Bush attended. “We are dining on a delicious lunch of Chilean sea bass, topped with pea puree, cheese ravioli with a butter sage sauce, and salad of field greens,” the anonymous reporter wrote, “the very same fare, we are told, that the donors. . . are enjoying.”

Wait a minute, Reader JM writes. The Chilean sea bass is a threatened species. Is it appropriate fare for a Presidential event?

You’re right, JM. According to Mark Stevens, who manages the sea bass preservation operation “Take a Pass on Sea Bass,” the fish is very much in trouble. Since 2001, Stevens’ group has been pushing to reduce consumption of Sea Bass, which is in danger of disappearing due to overfishing. His group has successfully lobbied prominent restaurants to drop the fish from their menus.

I told Stevens that the menu at the GOP fundraiser included sea bass. “Leave it to the Republicans to serve an endangered fish,” he said.

“Most” sea bass for sale is caught illegally, Stevens told me. Several nations have enacted laws to protect the fish, which isn’t a bass at all but a “Patagonian or Antarctic toothfish,” he told me.

A little research revealed that there is one fishery in the world that produces legal, environmentally-sound sea bass — and there’s only chain, Whole Foods Market, which now sells their product in the United States. But Ashley Hawkins, a spokeswoman for the stores, told me it isn’t yet available in Connecticut, or indeed that region of the country.

The president may have been served sea bass, but “they didn’t get it from us.”

I wonder what the Washington Times will have to say about this one!