During this season of Lent, millions of people are replacing meat with fish on Fridays. And as they shop for seafood more frequently, many are also striving to avoid eating fish caught in a manner that further depletes the world’s fish stocks. With 87 percent of the world’s fisheries already fully or overexploited, buying sustainably caught seafood has become increasingly important to consumers.
Today, the best way to ensure you are buying sustainable seafood — and supporting American fishermen and fishing communities — is to buy from a US fishery managed under a system known as a “catch share.” Catch shares reduce overfishing by enforcing annual catch limits and increased monitoring, while granting fishermen a guaranteed share of the catch and greater flexibility in how they run their businesses.
They also provide consumers with more fresh, high-quality seafood. When all the fish have to be caught within the space of three days, as previous management required, it causes a glut on the market and most of those fish must be frozen. Longer fishing seasons mean fresh fish can be caught and sold year-round for consumers to enjoy.
So as you shop for your fish each Friday this Lent season, consider picking up some naturally sweet and lean Alaskan halibut, known for its firm, flaky texture. Or how about some sablefish, also known as “black cod” or “butterfish,” which is rich in omega 3 fats? It can be smoked, grilled or pan roasted. The popular Gulf red snapper is delicious when roasted with fresh herbs and vegetables, or perhaps your family would enjoy some mid-Atlantic golden tilefish, oven roasted with a bit of olive oil and sea salt? Next week give Virginia striped bass (rockfish) a try, rubbed with Cajun seasoning and blackened.
Want more ideas? Every Friday during Lent, we will be posting about sustainable seafood choices from catch share fisheries. Each week we will highlight a species, a fisherman and/or fishing community working hard to ensure a fresh and sustainable product, and a recipe to inspire you. We want to bring you closer to the fish you eat, and ultimately to the marine ecosystem that depends upon responsible consumer choices for its continued survival.