Thinking Twice | Lessons in Sustainable Seafood

There are times when I feel the need to backtrack. It happens to the best of us, sometimes more often than we would like to admit. It happened recently, on this blog. Two Sundays ago, I published a post on grilling fish wrapped in prosciutto. My…

Thinking Twice | Lessons in Sustainable Seafood

King Salmon

There are times when I feel the need to backtrack. It happens to the best of us, sometimes more often than we would like to admit. It happened recently, on this blog.

Two Sundays ago, I published a post on grilling fish wrapped in prosciutto. My choice of fish? Monkfish. The monkfish was freshly delivered to my local fish monger the morning I prepared it – the fillets glistened perfectly in its bed of ice, the translucent flesh firm and beautifully hued. It had been quite a long while since I last ate monkfish, so I was excited at seeing such beautiful fillets, and I immediately began to consider how I would prepare it. In that moment, I didn’t think twice.

But I should have.

It was a comment from Greg of SippitySup that sadly informed me that monkfish is actually not a sustainable seafood choice. My heart sank.

When I checked the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Pocket Guide, indeed, there was monkfish, listed among others under the horrifying red AVOID column. See for yourself:

Photo Courtesy Monterey Bay Aquarium

It was a good lesson for me in thinking twice before purchasing my seafood. I must confess that I am disappointingly not as proactive as I should be. Yes, I have featured companies that are committed to sustainable seafood, and in general, I do aspire to support these sustainable choices. I know the general species to avoid. But there are so many fish in the sea, it is challenging to keep track of every fish that is over-fished, affected regions, and those that sustain undesirable fishing practices.

No more. No more excuses. I now have all that information at my fingertips because I have downloaded Seafood Watch’s App on my mobile phone.

photo courtesy Monterey Bay Aquarium

So, no matter where I am, whether at my fish monger, or at a restaurant here or across the country, I can reference the Seafood Watch on my phone. I can even chip in and share when I find Best Choice or Good Alternative seafood with their new Project Fishmap. I have made a promise to myself to be more conscientious, to always think twice before I buy my seafood. I committed myself by pledging to become a Seafood Watch Advocate. If you haven’t explored the wealth of information that Seafood Watch has to offer, I encourage you to spend some time on their site. There are videos, guides, apps, and more to help us understand how to make better choices.

Just between you and me, I admit: I will absolutely miss some of my favorite fish. But perhaps, in time, if more people can make sustainable seafood choices and support ecologically friendly fishing practices, we will be able to enjoy them again…one day.

Comments

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  1. carolineadobo

    What I took from reading your original post was that it’s a great idea to wrap fish in proscuitto. Thanks for blogging this, it helps to get more people become aware.

    Reply
  2. Vanille

    Sadly I’ve also stopped to eat one of my favourite fish – orange roughy- red listed.
    No doubt that this app is handy.

    Reply
  3. Simone

    O and if you’re Dutch there is a Dutch version of this app as well, called ‘Viswijzer’. Setup the same way.. :)

    Reply
  4. Simone

    O thanks for sharing the app.. Gonna download it straight away. I think I should also be much more aware of the choices I make. Sometimes I can get so enthusiastic about a certain dish that I forget to check if I should make it or not. I will definitely miss certain fishes too, but maybe indeed we can turn things around if we all are more aware!

    Reply
  5. Monet

    This is so important, and something that I need to get better about too. I know that I always forget to check before I go to the market. Maybe I need to get that app! Thank you for sharing another great post with me. I hope you have a wonderful weekend, full of laughter and life. You inspire me with your passionate and creative soul!

    Reply
  6. Priscilla - She's Cookin'

    We’re all learning and having the Seafood Watch app on your smartphone certainly helps. Just last week I attended The Seafood Summit – so informative and dispelled a lot of misinformation about farmed fish (posted about it yesterday). I was pleased to find out that Alaskan Halibut is a Best Choice, but (and I knew this) hamachi – one of our favorite sushi selections is a very poor choice.

    Reply
  7. Sara @CaffeIna

    Well, what to say..thank you both Greg and Liren for making us all thinking twice. I am always grateful at people who point out good lessons to me. And thanks for the phone app. I will make sure to use it next time I approach the fish counter.

    Reply
  8. Cheffy

    Learning what seafood is sustainable and what is not, is definitely a challenge. At chefnews.com we offer a series of Sustainable Seafood articles written by Chef Bryan Szeliga to help the consumer make sustainable choices in eating/purchasing seafood. Check it out…..http://bit.ly/fiE1G5

    Reply
    • Liren

      Thank you for sharing this – I realize that I am just scratching the surface, and learning more about this issue will be an ongoing process. I appreciate this, and look forward to educating myself on as many perspectives as I can.

      Reply
  9. Jean

    Liren, I’m with you–I’m still learning so much about making sustainable choices. I’ve consulted Monterery Aquarium’s site but I thank you for letting us know about the Seafood Watch app. Like you said, now there’s no excuse. What an easy way to do the right thing. :-)

    Reply
    • Liren

      Hi Jean – I love having this app and have already found it very useful. Such a helpful tool!

      Reply
  10. Brian @ A Thought For Food

    I didn’t even notice that it was monkfish… I was so enthralled by the rest of the recipe.

    I do my best… my very best… to only purchase sustainable seafood (my CSF is one of my favorite things in the world). I don’t always follow this rule… but we can just do our darnedest right?

    Reply
    • Liren

      So true, Brian, we do try our darnedest. I need to find a good CSF near me!

      Reply
  11. sippitysup

    I am so glad you took my comment in the spirit it was intended. I would never advocate telling people what choices to make. But I do believe that we should all stop and think about our choices, then choose what feels right for them individually. That goes for everything in life, not just seafood. Thanks,for this important post. GREG

    Reply
    • Liren

      So true, Greg, lessons like these translate to the choices we make with every food we eat, and everything in life as well. Each day is a growing process and I’m thankful that you are a part of it!

      Reply
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