Hans Haveman of H & H Fresh Fish Company in Santa Cruz describes the White Sea Bass (“WSB” as some fishermen refer to it) as one of the “great success stories” in commercial fishing in the eastern Pacific. Overfished to near extinction, enough people realized what was happening and got together to save this delicious fish.
Organizations such as Santa Barbara Sea, a nonprofit located in Santa Barbara of all places, led the way in educating the public about overfishing of the White Sea Bass. Today the WSB fishery in California is thriving. “White Sea Bass from hatcheries in Southern California have been tagged and now we’re catching them here in the Monterey Bay. It’s very exciting to watch this recovery,” said Haveman.
Described by some as “a manly man’s fish” the texture of the White Sea Bass is firm, almost like a sturgeon, and is better grilled or in sushi than other more delicate preparations like poaching. Large-scale aquaculture operations are now farming WSB off the coast of Mexico and sending fresh fish to restaurants all over the west coast. Technically the Sea Bass isn’t a bass at all, but a member of the Croaker family, and is considered to be the largest Croaker in the Pacific.
Available fresh or frozen, the White Sea Bass is dense enough to be grilled, broiled or even baked. Lean and high in protein, the WSB has higher cholesterol than other fish. It should be noted that wild WSB have a much different diet than the farm-raised varieties, as the ones that are reared in pens that are fed a diet rich in soybean meal. Proponents of this type of operation insist it’s the best way to create a “sustainable” fish farm, as the diet of fishmeal and fish oil is not sustainable.
Monterey Bay Seafood Watch Rating
Much of the White Sea Bass in the Monterey Bay is line caught, and that earns it the “Best choice” award from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
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