Learning About Local Seafood
Determining which seafood is the healthiest and most responsibly harvested is a complex task. Our goals are to support our local food producers, the larger ocean environment, and the future of fish species. Educating ourselves as consumers enables us to engage in dialog with our seafood purveyors and make informed purchasing decisions. When buying seafood, we should attempt to purchase species that have healthy and sustainable populations, and whose harvest does not damage critical habitat and has a limited bycatch.
Community Supported Fisheries
Community Supported Fisheries, or CSFs, are a way to buy seafood directly from fishermen and support local fisheries by purchasing seasonal shares. Modeled after CSAs, consumers purchase shares up front and receive a weekly portion of the catch. Consumers benefit from eating the freshest fish and knowing their food dollars are going to local businesses. Fishermen benefit by earning a more fair price for their catch. CSFs create new relationships and direct personal connections, allowing producers and consumers to engage in collaborative and constructive conversations about sustainable fishery practices. Through CSFs, consumers can begin to learn about the complex systems of ocean fisheries, and fishermen can see that consumers are willing to give unusual fish a try if it means healthier oceans. Find CSFs in our area by searching Seacoast Harvest
Resources & Additional Information
FishWatch, a website by the NOAA Fisheries Service, includes localized information about each species and its fishery, including the status of the stock, how the fishery is managed, nutrition facts, and information about environmental impacts.
The Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA) works to support marine systems and New England fisheries through advocacy, policy work, and support for direct marketing efforts such as CSFs.
Questions to ask your fishmonger:
How was this fish caught?
Hook & line and trolling are generally the best. Trawling can damage the ocean floor and open water longline result in bycatch.
Where was this fish caught?
There are generally more regulations protecting fish in U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Buying fish caught in the Northeast supports local economies.
If it was farmed, how was it raised?
Look for fish that are native to where they were raised, are lower on the food chain, and are raised in contained areas. Freshwater fish and fish that are not carnivores are usually a better choice of farmed fish.
Contained areas minimize escapes, disease, and pollution. Open ocean farming of carnivorous fish is not healthy to the ocean environment, while shellfish (such as mussels and oysters), can be sustainable.
Trawling: Method of fishing by which shipsdrag nets behind them. This often results in a large amount of bycatch. Bottom trawling also can destroy fish habitat.
Hook & line: Traditional fishing pole method for catching fish, environmentally responsible.
Troll/Pole: Towing fishing lines behind a boat, considered environmentally responsible.
Gillnetting: Netting that hangs in the water and is kept in place by weights and floats. Results in excessive bycatch but has little or no effect on habitat.
Open water longlining: A series of hooks attached to a central line. Fishermen return after a time to retrieve their catch. Can result in bycatch.
Bycatch: Animals and species of seafood caught unintentionally. Bycatch is often thrown overboard