The Fish in Your Filet-o-Fish is Both Ugly and Possibly Unsustainable


The Times has a piece about the hoki, the homely yet delectable fish that’s been the star of countless McDonald’s filet-o-fish sandwiches and featured on the menus of chain restaurants like Denny’s and Long John Silver’s. The hoki, which lives in the deep waters around New Zealand, has found favor with commercial fleets as an alternative to overfished populations of monkfish, tuna, and red snapper. But it turns out that the pop-eyed fish are not as plentiful as was once thought, and that’s been causing some controversy among conservationists, environmental agencies, and commercial outfits alike.

Population decline, environmental damage, and bycatch are all at issue, and scientists are warning that the hoki is in danger of emulating the orange roughy, another once-abundant fish that has suffered steep decline. Long John Silver’s has taken hoki off of its menu, while Denny’s uses it only in its New Zealand restaurants and McDonald’s now uses less than it used to. The hoki’s future is unclear, but at least we can now say for sure that the filet-o-fish sandwich does indeed contain actual fish.