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Bringing Bycatch to the Forefont

Serving Up Solutions for Bycatch

Louisiana gulf flounder is just one of many frequent victims of bycatch, defined by Oceana as “the catch of non-target fish and ocean wildlife, including what is brought to port and what is discarded at sea.” A comprehensive 2014 report by the international organization found that global byatch may amount to 40 percent of the world’s catch, totaling 63 billion pounds per year.

One chef decided to take a stand and tackle the problem in the only way he knew how: cooking. Tim Doolittle is the executive chef at Emeril Lagasse’s Table 10 restaurant at the Palazzo in Las Vegas. Knowing that Louisiana gulf flounder is commonly caught and discarded by Gulf of Mexico shrimp fisheries, he made the executive decision to give it a purpose.

In 2013, Doolittle added “flounder Meuniere” to Table 10’s menu. The Louisiana gulf flounder dish was named for the French word for miller’s style, a reference to the method of dusting the fish with flour before cooking it. Suddenly, there was a reason not to discard this form of bycatch—it could be sold.

The dish was a hit. After a year of serving it, the restaurant was going through 120 pounds of Louisiana gulf flounder a week. Doolittle benefited from the fish’s year-round supply, high-end quality and affordable price, while reducing the amount of fish wasted due to bycatch. Simultaneously, taking advantage of bycatch gives overfished and commercially fished populations a break. Talk about making lemonade out of lemons!

To read the full 2014 Oceana report on bycatch, titled “Wasted Catch: Unsolved Problems in U.S. Fisheries,” click here. To get Chef Doolittle flounder Meuniere recipe, click here.


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