Fresh Sustainable Fish - Your strategies?
I've significantly boosted the amount of fish I eat (from about zero to now at least three or four meals a month) over the past few months. Almost all of the fish is fresh (or sold thawed after previously having been frozen).
When it comes to sustainability of the world's fishes, I'd like to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem, but it seems that many of the fresh fish being sold in my local fish markets are on the "avoid" lists in terms of at-risk species. The number of readily available "acceptable" fish species is small enough that it threatens to become boring very quickly.
And that's just sustainable species -- saying nothing about the specific methods used by the fishers to catch the fish.
What, if any, strategies have you been using when deciding which fresh fish to buy?
I carry the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Sustainable Seafood Guide with me all the time, and whip it out at the fish store as well as in restaurants.
We carry the MB Seafood Guide too. Sometimes it draws a few stares but that's inevitable. The first time my husband used it at our local market the fish monger thought he was an inspector. At the farmers'market we shop at there is a distributer of locally caught fish and many days he has wild caught salmon from the west coast. We live in Massachusetts and as much as we love salmon (we don't buy farmed salmon), we only buy fish that's been caught humanely and sustainably from local waters. So far so good.
Another thing is I have several cookbooks that focus primarily on seafood and those give many alternative cooking methods as you might imagine. Any general cookbook worth it's salt will have a pretty decent seafood chapter as well.
If you really want to protect wild stocks and genetic diversity, eat only farm raised seafood and non-native invasive species. The lionfish here in Florida is quite tasty and is destroying our local reef fish. The invasive asian carp is great in a variety of ways. Ask your Jewish friends. And as a replacement for grouper. Many of your large shrimp and prawns come from ponds in South East Asia. They destroy the mangroves to build them, but that is their problem.
Fresh fish, unless you catch it out your door, has a huge carbon footprint. A factory ship is much more ecologically sound for the processing and transport of fish products.
By-catch is a whole other discussion.