What to Eat During Shark Week: Not Shark

One of Washington’s best fishmongers says no.

Photograph via iStock.

The Discovery Channel’s Shark Week is always a summer highlight, but BlackSalt fishmonger MJ Gimbar urges diners to keep their fascination with the toothy fish off the plate.

“There are plenty of other things to eat in the ocean with a good conscience,” says Gimbar. “Leave sharks to Shark Week on TV. They’re awe-inspiring animals.”

Worldwide, wild sharks are listed on Seafood Watch’s “avoid” list, with the exception of thresher and shortfin mako species from California and Hawaii. Gimbar doesn’t even carry these varieties or serve them in the restaurant, since scientists have a difficult time establishing how sustainable these shark populations truly are. Gimbar also cautions against purchasing any meat simply labeled “mako,” as the longfin species is threatened.

That’s not to say you won’t find shark sold around Washington. Despite President Obama passing the Shark Conservation Act, which includes laws against “finning” (killing sharks solely for their fins), you can still order shark-fin soup at several local Chinese restaurants; the Animal Welfare Institute keeps a list of the offenders. Some have consequently take the dish off the menu, while others insist they’re using imitation versions.

Still hungry for the steak-y meat? Gimbar says to try sustainable varieties of sturgeon or swordfish instead.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.