A slimehead by any other name…
Wednesday, October 29, 2008 | 11:42 AM ET
by Tara Kimura, CBCNews.ca
Diners aren't likely to find on the dinner menu whore's eggs or slimehead – monikers long abandoned and replaced with the more appetizing spicy sea urchin and orange roughy.
The rebranding of fish is part of a larger movement that masks the overfishing of certain species, according to Jennifer Jacquet, a PhD student at the University of British Columbia.
"Back in the late 70s or early 80s the U.S. government, for instance, actually invested millions of dollars into renaming fish species," Jacquet on Tuesday told CBC Radio's As It Happens.
"As we overfish stocks like cod and pollack, the things that we really want to eat, we've moved into fishing for things like slimeheads and sablefish and dogfish and so we've had to think of names that sound more palatable," she said.
For example, the dogfish has been renamed rock salmon, the oilfish is now known as blue cod and the sablefish is now listed as black cod. In the early 1990s, the Patagonian toothfish made its way onto dinner plates as the Chilean sea bass. Stocks of the fish were significantly depleted by the late 1990s.
Jacquet notes that in some cases, the renaming is not simply about rebranding but is an attempt to sidestep guidelines.
"The renaming does subvert some attempts at regulation — 30 to 50 per cent of Patagonian toothfish that enters Canada illegally comes in because it's labelled as sea bass and it's mislabelled with the wrong customs code," Jacquet said. "This is reason to demand that we use scientific names especially in trade because it's the one thing we can rely on."
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From trends and culture to politics and nutrition, Food Bytes serves up tasty tidbits about food and the issues surrounding it that flavour our everyday lives.
About the writers
Amber Hildebrandt writes for CBCNews.ca in Toronto. Growing up on a farm in Manitoba, she acquired an insatiable appetite, but it was during a stint in Japan that she developed her discerning tastebuds and "foodie" ways.
Andrea Chiu is an associate producer at CBC Radio Digital. Though she loves to eat, cook and discuss food, don't ask her to bake. It never turns out well. She tweets as @TOfoodie on Twitter and organizes food and wine events in Toronto called FoodieMeet.
Tara Kimura is the consumer life reporter for CBCNews.ca, covering a wide range of issues that range from rising food costs and the growing organic movement, to new trends in the marketplace.
Andree Lau is a CBC web reporter in Calgary. Her journalism career includes seven years as a CBC-TV reporter. Her own blog called "are you gonna eat that?" chronicles her eating adventures (including sampling snake and camel hoof tendon).
Jessica Wong is a CBCNews.ca writer who loves to eat and cook, as well as discuss, read and watch programming about food, sometimes all at once.
Kevin Yarr, CBCNews.ca's writer in Prince Edward Island, wrote about food and beer for national and regional magazines before joining the CBC. He acquired a desire for new tastes on his first trip to Europe, and an appreciation of eating locally and in season when he finally settled down on P.E.I.
Elizabeth Bridge is a writer with the CBC Digital Archives in Toronto. She first ventured into the kitchen as a child to indulge a sweet tooth by baking cookies and making fudge. A student budget compelled her to be a vegetarian (for a while) and instilled in her an ongoing curiosity about food and cooking.
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