Selected tags: GulfWild

The quest for sustainable seafood has never been easier

Photo credit: Rick Moonen/RM Seafood

Photo credit: Rick Moonen/RM Seafood

If you love seafood, the six weeks between Mardi Gras and Easter is likely one of your favorite times of the year. It doesn’t hurt that restaurants, fish markets and grocery stores are awash with Lenten promotions, resulting in the most profitable period for seafood sales.

So why not use this time to get out of your comfort zone?  Put down the tuna and salmon and try something new; the seafood market has an abundance of options.   Additionally, consumers are seeking out local and sustainable seafood like never before, representing some of the hottest trends in the restaurant industry for the past several years.

But which fish are the best to buy? Tools like EDF’s mobile  Seafood Selector and Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch app are great ways to have sustainable seafood recommendations at your fingertips. Some fish pundits like Chef Alton Brown – host of Good Eats and other programs on the Food Network – go so far as to encourage consumers to ignore all the labels and just “Buy American.” In the absence of definitive information, this might be your best option. However, it’s usually a good bet that your fishmonger or server can tell you where their fish is from.

Did you know?

The average piece of fish can be handled by up to 10-15 people before it gets to your plate. This isn’t inherently bad, especially if it’s coming from remote waters, like Alaska’s Bering Sea. However, more and more seafood lovers want to know who caught their fish, and more importantly, how long it’s taken to get to market. In response, a number of companies, fishermen and nonprofits alike are committed to “shortening the supply chain” between the ocean and your plate. Here’s a sampling of some of our favorites:

  • Gulf Wild provides individually tagged, traceable and responsibly-caught red snapper and grouper from the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Ecofish is one of the first all-sustainable seafood companies. Their products can be found in health food and natural food stores all across the country.
  • I Love Blue Sea is a California-based company selling a variety of seafood online and direct to consumers. They recently added Gulf Coast and Chesapeake Bay products too.
  • Dock to Dish is a new startup on the East End of Long Island that delivers fresh, hand-caught Montauk seafood to New York City restaurants and consumers within 24 hours.
  • Sea 2 Table partners with local fishermen from small-scale wild fisheries around the country to get their catch direct to market as fast as possible.
  • Community Supported Fisheries have sprung up in the last few years in the mold of CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture). Basically, you pay a local fisherman upfront for a share of his catch and receive a regular seafood delivery throughout the season.
  • Trash Fish or ‘underutilized’ or ‘underappreciated’ seafood species are all the rage right now, and our good friends at Chefs Collaborative are hosting a series of dinners around the country that hope to spread awareness about fish that are sustainably-caught yet undervalued.

It's never been easier to find sustainable, healthy seafood that directly benefits local, responsible fishermen. So put down that generic fish sandwich and help ensure that this trend continues.

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How Sustainable is your Supermarket’s Seafood Case?

sustainability rankings of seafood retailers 2013

ImageCredit: Greenpeace, from "Carting Away the Oceans 2013" Report

Last week, Greenpeace USA released the seventh edition of their popular Carting Away the Oceans report, which ranks the sustainable seafood performance of the nation’s 20 largest supermarket chains. Industry leaders like Wegmans (a former EDF partner on salmon and shrimp sourcing), Whole Foods and Safeway once again scored in the top five, while Winn Dixie, Publix and Supervalu perennially find themselves at the bottom of the rankings.

This year’s report places extra emphasis on the ways that these companies approach pressing conservation policy issues, such as the approval of genetically-modified salmon, the advancement of industry-wide seafood traceability, and catch methods for canned tuna.

Perhaps the report’s biggest surprise was the improvement shown by prepared foods leader Trader Joe’s, which rocketed up 12 spots (from 15th in 2012 to 3rd this year). This comes just weeks after public scrutiny of the company’s follow-through on its 2012 sustainable seafood promise. However, Greenpeace gave Trader Joe’s a major pat on the back for removing several unsustainable species from their inventory and switching to better sources of canned tuna.

Although we don’t always agree with our Greenpeace colleagues about the composition of their ‘red list’, we were happy to see them recognize the improving sustainability of Gulf of Mexico red snapper and grouper – fisheries that EDF has worked in for more than a decade. They even gave a nod to EDF partner H-E-B for their strong support of the GulfWild traceability program.

So until next year’s edition, try to use your seafood dollars to support companies that are on the right track. If you are uncertain about the right species to purchase, you can refer to our recently revamped “Seafood Selector.” Let’s hope that the good continue to get better and the not-so-good get serious about seafood sustainability.

 

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‘Fish on Fridays’: Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper, a tasty sustainability success story

Gulf Wild Red Snapper

Gulf Wild tagged Red Snapper. GulfWild allows the consumer to trace their fish back to the boat and captain who caught it

Welcome to a blog series on sustainable, locally sourced seafood for Lent! This week, we are featuring Gulf of Mexico red snapper which is managed under the Gulf of Mexico Commercial Red Snapper IFQ program. We are also presenting a delicious recipe for snapper tacos from Chef Chris, the head chef at Yaga’s in Galveston.

Meet a Fisherman: Bubba Cochrane

Bubba Cochrane is a commercial fisherman and business owner in Galveston, TX. He began his career as a deck hand and saved enough to purchase a permit and boat of his own. His business is doing well now, but he remembers when red snapper were on the brink of collapse. At that time, he was restricted to fishing in just the first 10-15 days of each month, in a derby-style competition in which everyone got on the water at the same time and tried to catch as many fish as possible.

He told National Geographic, “A derby is really stressful – you’re worried about the weather or if you get sick or even hurt,” he said. “And it means you miss a lot of birthdays and holidays with your family, because when fishing is open you’d better be on the water.”

Cochrane was skeptical of the IFQ program until he went to a workshop and learned he could buy or lease additional quota if he didn’t have enough. Now, his business is doing well and he hopes that one day, his son will follow in his footsteps. “Catch shares taught me about stewardship. I know what sustainability means and I believe in it,” said Cochrane. “There’s a future for the fishery.”

 

The Gulf of Mexico Commercial Red Snapper IFQ program:

Gulf snapper are so popular that overfishing once threatened to devastate this species, reducing it to just 4% of its original population. Attempts to control the problem by shortening the fishing season year after year failed. Then in 2007, fishermen voted to introduce an Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ), a type of catch share, which put this species on the road to recovery. Since 2008, the fishing season has been extended to year-round, fishing quotas have been steadily rising and revenues have gone up, allowing fishermen to once more make a good living without harming the stock.

Some have even found creative ways to use the fishery’s new sustainability to market their catch. Gulf Wild, a registered program of the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholder’s Alliance, allows consumers to track the fish they buy back to its supplier, so they can see who caught their snapper, what part of the Gulf it came from, the name of the ship’s captain, and even the port where it was landed. The program assures consumers that they are eating truly sustainable seafood. Check out mygulfwild.com for more information on how the program works and where to buy Gulf Wild fish.

 

Red Snapper:

Red snapper, with its firm texture and sweet, nutty flavor, is one of the most popular white fish on the market and can be found all over the world, though most are harvested in the Gulf of Mexico or Indonesia. We are advocating that you purchase the locally caught Gulf snapper, however, and support local fishermen like Bubba!

Care to cook some snapper? Try this recipe for fresh snapper tacos.

 

Chef Chris’ snapper tacos: 

Ingredients:

1/2 Gal sour cream
3 green onions, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 C capers
1 C white wine
1 lime, juiced
2 T mayonnaise
1 T black pepper
1 T salt
1 T blackening seasoning

Instructions:
Sauce: Combine above ingredients in a bowl & set aside.

2 8oz red snapper fillets, cut into 3oz strips
1 T salt
1 T pepper
1 T chili powder
1 T garlic powder

Combine seasonings and coat snapper with the mixture. Cover bottom of sauté pan with olive oil & cook fish until white and flaky.

Assemble tacos with corn tortillas, shredded cabbage, chopped cilantro, sautéed snapper, and prepared sauce. Layer two or three corn tortillas for stability.

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