Gorton's of Gloucester, the fish processor that's been a fixture on the Gloucester waterfront since 1849 and whose oil-skinned Gloucester fisherman as its corporate symbol reaches back for authenticity, is backing the U.S. Agriculture Department's advice to eat more fish with a recommendation to select shrimp, tilapia, salmon and Alaska pollock.
These are species that are not landed from Gloucester boats; but then Gorton's has not bought and used Gloucester fish for many years, according to multiple industry sources.
The recommended species in the e-mail release by Prevail Strategies of Chicago, which does marketing for Gorton's, are among the species that are featured in company product packages or frozen fish.
The Crunchy Breaded Fish Sticks and Garlic and Herb Crunchy Breaded Fish Fillets use Alaska pollock, as do the Potato Crunch Fillets and the Lemon Herb Breaded Fillets, and the entire line of grilled, frozen fillets.
The line of salmon, tilapia and shrimp products speak for themselves as to the species, but Gorton's labels give no clue whether the fish used by the company, which is one of the largest and most successful makers and distributors of value added seafood products, is imported or domestic, wild caught or farmed.
Jody Nedrow-Counihan, Gorton's marketing director in Gloucester, and Lindsay Duda at Prevail Strategies were unable to provide detailed information about the source of the seafood.
On its website — next to a modern model's picture dressed as Gorton's Gloucester fisherman — the company, now Japanese-owned, proclaims its tilapia as "Five Star Tilapia," and explains that "carefully selected for the whitest, moistest and flakiest fillets, Gorton's Five Star Tilapia is hand-picked and trimmed for the leanest premium cut. Specially chosen for mild flavor. Five Star Tilapia is quick frozen for optimal freshness and 100 percent inspected for the safest, highest quality."