When the Monterey Bay Aquarium was first getting underway, local fisherman Giuseppe “Joey” Pennisi helped catch some of the octopus and ling cod to put in the tanks.
But then, he says, his relationship with the aquarium soured with the launch of the Seafood Watch program. Many of the species he caught were on the "red" list of fish to avoid because of overfishing.
"Early on, the aquarium really destroyed our fishery," says Pennisi. "We got hammered by that Seafood Watch card, it was really bad."
Pennisi is a trawler, which means he drags huge nets behind his boat in deep water, hauling up thousands of pounds of fish at a time. The sustainable seafood movement maligns trawl-fishing, and Pennisi says he understands why. Trawl nets can scrape and damage the ocean floor, and they're so big they can indiscriminately catch thousands pounds of unmarketable fish that end up dead.
“One day, we had about 25,000 pounds of fish on board, and we had only saved about 5,000 pounds of them because the rest of them were too small," Pennisi says. "I thought, I’m going to do something about this. I don’t want to sit on my trawl deck and see little juvenile fish dying. It’s just wrong.”