Pew Oceans Commission study on ocean health

Tracy Wolpert, CEO, PCC Natural Markets, signed on to this letter from Seattle Chefs to Governor Locke regarding the health of our oceans.

February 18, 2004

Governor Gary Locke
P.O. Box 40002
Olympia, WA 98504-0002

Dear Governor Locke:

On June 4, 2003, the Pew Oceans Commission released its report finding that many of America’s marine systems — our oceans, coasts, and the web of life they support — are on the verge of collapse. The report, written by 18 leaders in science, fishing, business, conservation, and policy, details how marine management has slipped through the cracks of the dozens of agencies charged with caring for the sea’s health. The result is that overfishing, destructive fishing practices, harmful coastal development, pollution, and other wasteful practices are threatening fish and fisherman alike.

As chefs working in the Pacific Northwest, we see the Pew Commission’s report as both a frightening warning and a call to action. Over several decades, chefs and restaurant owners around the country have seen both the size and the quality of available seafood decline, even as prices have risen. Some stocks have completely disappeared from realistic commercial availability, and too many appear headed to that fate.

Chefs are artisans in a service industry. We prepare great food for people to appreciate and enjoy. But to make great food, even the best chefs need good ingredients. Unfortunately, some of the Pacific Northwest’s best food — the food we get from the sea — is unnecessarily threatened by a system of ocean governance in need of major reforms.

We urge you to keep in mind the recommendations of the Pew Ocean Commission when you prepare your comments to the United States Commission on Oceans Policy in a few weeks. Specifically, we urge you to highlight the importance of:

  • Establishing a system of fully protected marine reserves to help restore important ecosystems and fisheries by giving fish and wildlife safe places to feed, breed, and rest;
  • Protecting coastal habitat that supports the marine food chain, from orcas to the salmon they depend on, by better controlling development and its impacts including the acoustic environment and water quality problems;
  • Revising, strengthening and expanding pollution laws that protect shellfish beds, fish and wildlife, and people from harmful pollution; and
  • Eliminating conflict-of-interest situations in the nation’s eight regional fishing councils by separating conservation decisions (how much fishing a fishery can sustain) from allocation decisions (who is allowed to catch the fish which can be caught).

The importance of sound ocean policy cannot be greater in any other place than it is in Western Washington. Not only are precious ecological and vital economic resources at stake, but pieces of our culture and way of life hang in the balance as well. As chefs, we could not imagine Northwest cuisine without salmon, crab, or halibut, and it would be a shame to see them reduced to expensive morsels or entirely vanish because we didn’t have the foresight to protect them.

Governor Locke, we ask you to make Washington State’s commitment to a strong oceans policy clear when you have the opportunity to comment on the US Ocean Commission’s draft report later this year. As a governor, you are one of only a select group who can work to ensure that the US Commission’s final report includes all of the essential elements outlined above.

We, the undersigned chefs, restaurateurs, and organizations, look forward to working with you to ensure that we have a healthy and sustainable Washington Marine ecosystem — along with all its amazing resources — as an inheritance for the next generation of Washingtonians.


Thierry Rautureau, Chef/Owner
Rover’s Restaurant

Holly Smith, Chef/Owner
Café Juanita

Amy McCray, Chef/Owner
James Hondros, Owner
Emily Crawford, Sous Chef
EVA Restaurant

John Sundstrom, Chef/Owner

Karen Jurgensen,
Executive Chef, Baci Catering
President, Seattle Chefs’ Collaborative (FORKS)

Tom Douglas, Owner/Chef
Etta’s Seafood, Palace Kitchen, & Dahlia Lounge

Chef Martin Hahn, CCC, CCE
Culinary Dept. Head, Culinary Arts Program
Skagit Valley College

Jennifer M. Hall,
Resident District Manager, Bon Appetit Management Company
Co-owner, SEED NW

Geddes Martin, Chef/Owner
Inn at Ship Bay, Orcas Island

Bill Morris C.W.C., Executive Chef
The Rainier Club

Paul Wolman, Food and Beverage Director
Roy Breiman, Executive Chef
Salish Lodge and Spa

Charles Ramseyer, Executive Chef
Ray’s Boathouse

Christina Orchid, Owner/Chef
Christina’s Eastsound Orcas

Scott Rice, Farm Program Manager
Pike Place Market PDA

Diana Culbert, Chef
The Bistro at the Ruins

Nan Crocker, Board Member
Slow Food Seattle

Christine Leopold, Kitchen Manager
Hale’s Ales Brew Pub

Heidi Kenyon,
Director of Communications/Co-Owner, Gabriel Claycamp
Head Chef/Co-Owner, Culinary Communion, LLC

Elizabeth Kimball, Program Coordinator
Operation Frontline

Tracy Wolpert, CEO
PCC Natural Markets

Janet Hedstrom, Executive Chef
Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery

Chef Gene Fritz
WSU School of Hospitality Business Management
Washington State University

Devon Boisen, Executive Chef
McCormick & Schmick’s

Joshua W. Green, Chef de Cuisine
Ponti Seafood Grill

Chef John Howie, Owner
Seastar Restaurant and Raw Bar

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