After being loaded onto the cart, the fish are brought to a lab inside the NOAA building, where they are left to thaw overnight before being inspected. The lab is cool and crowded with refrigerators and processing equipment. Not surprisingly, it smells like fish.
While the recent arrivals begin to defrost, we are led to a black counter on the other side of the lab where two workers from NOAA's Northwest Fisheries Science Center are preparing a cobia, also known as lemon fish or ling fish, that was caught a few days ago for inspection.
Wearing latex gloves, they carefully remove a filet from one side and place it into a Pyrex bowl for the sensory team. Then they remove a filet that is carefully wrapped and then prepared for shipment to the Seattle lab for chemical analysis.
By the time it gets there, the results from the sensory test will be known. If it passed the sniff test, it will undergo chemical testing; if not, it doesn't.
Onward to the sniffing station.