This morning, Restaurant Association of Maryland staff attended an extremely interesting seminar about seafood in the Chesapeake Bay, held by J.J. McDonnell & Co., Inc. in Columbia, Md. Guest speakers included: George McManus of J.J. McDonnell & Co., Marty Gary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Jason Ruth of Harris Seafood Company , Stephan Abel of Oyster Recovery Partnership and Michael Hutt of the Virginia Marine Products Board.
Some interesting facts learned:
- Striped bass, also known as rockfish, are now at sustainable population levels in the Bay thanks to strict, science-based controls since the '90s
- Soft shell clams are an up-and-coming delicacy in the region
- Chesapeake Ray, a red meat fish, preys on the Bay's oyster, clam, and bay scallop population. Sharks, a ray predator, once kept the ray population in check, but no longer do because of a lower shark population. In order to keep the ray population in check, fishermen are harvesting rays to sell to restaurants. The fish has a tender meat with beefy flavor, rather than a fishy taste and can be served in a variety of ways.
- The Oyster Recovery Partnership is helping to restore the Bay's oyster population. It is currently collecting oyster shell from numerous Maryland restaurants as part of its Shell Recycling Alliance. The shell is aged and placed back into the Bay with small oysters ("spat") in an effort to increase the oyster population. The organization is looking for more restaurant participants.