For some reason, the lowly sardine continues get a bad rap in our purportedly food-enlightened world, which is perhaps why it's not huge news right now that British Columbia's entire fleet of sardine fishing boats failed to bring back a single fish this season, just because no one could find any. Anywhere. "Theyve given up looking, pulled the plug," says Lorne Clayton, the executive-director of the Canadian Pacific Sardine Association, a trade association that clearly should have its logo on more T-shirts.
So, what caused the shift from a catch of several thousand metric tons last year a $32 million wholesale market value between canning and other uses to zero during the last three months? Clayton thinks the fish are still around, but just didn't make it to the surface for their annual field trip. A panel of scientists will try to crack the Omega-3 code in December, and meanwhile, the Vancouver Sun notes that this isn't the first time the oily suckers have gone AWOL: It happened in South Africa, too, just this summer, and sardines disappeared from the waters off the British Columbia coast altogether, from the mid-twenties to the mid-forties. "They are a migratory fish heavily influenced by ocean conditions," an authority tells the paper. Let's just hope they aren't headed anywhere near the Gowanus.