“Take a Pass on Chilean Sea Bass Campaign”
Seafood Throwdown Brian Sautee

For [Brian Houlihan], executive chef at Seasons in the Millennium Bostonian Hotel, that meant taking a signature dish off the menu, taking a hit from diners, and taking time to talk to other chefs about doing the same. Last week, he was among scores of fellow chefs supporting “Take a Pass on Chilean Sea Bass,” a campaign by the National Environmental Trust, vowing to stop serving the endangered fish until populations have stabilized. Houlihan said the issue is particularly acute in Boston, the nation’s No. 2 port for fish imports after New York City.

Houlihan said he has replaced Chilean sea bass with cod and Alaskan halibut. When asked to serve the delicacy at a recent wedding reception for 150 guests, he declined. Although concerned that he might alienate his client, Houlihan explained his position and offered halibut as an alternative. He said the client was thrilled with the option and commended him for his actions.

Despite claims of fresh catches, Chilean sea bass – its common name is actually Patagonia toothfish – is rarely served fresh. It is caught thousands of miles from the United States and often stored frozen for months aboard large fishing vessels in the Antarctic waters. Season’s Houlihan estimates that about 90 percent of the sea bass brought into the US is frozen, and 80 percent is illegal.

(Source: BostonGlobe / Section: City Weekly / Oct 20, 2002)