Any somewhat savvy seafood shopper will know that much of the fish they buy is in danger of being overfished. Generally, the larger the fish, the higher risk that it is being fished unsustainably, and even being fished into commercial extinction. Species like Bluefin Tuna, Atlantic Cod, Monkfish, Salmon, Swordfish, and any type of shark are some of the worst offending fisheries when it comes to sustainability. Sustainability can mean two things in this case. The most obvious being, is the species population large enough to weather the imposed fishing pressure? Another measure of sustainability lies in how the fish is caught. Bycatch is the keyword here. Many deep water fisheries use trawlers to pull up massive amounts of fish from the depths. The trawling method is often indiscriminate and will yield only a small percentage of the target species, leaving many other species stuck in the net, discarded and dead. You can read up on this issue at MCBI’s website.
If you live in Boston, you have a chance to pick up some sustainable seafood at the weekly Haymarket off the orange line right on the fringe of the North End. In addition to ridiculously cheap produce sold in an outdoor setting, you can buy fish, some of which is direct from the sea. This isn’t to say all the fish at Haymarket is fresh, or sustainable, but if you know what to look for, you can usually walk away with a good piece of fish that you can feel okay about eating. Take a look at EDF’s Ecoguide for purchasing sustainable seafood before taking a trip to Haymarket. The EDF guide is simplistic and good as a quick reference. To find out more about your sustainable seafood choices, NOAA has a more extensive review of each fishery. Here’s the guide for Spanish Mackerel (a regular feature at Haymarket). The Spanish Mackerel is an excellent sustainable choice, and tastes excellent when fresh. At $3 a pound, you can’t go wrong. Bake it drizzled with olive oil, lemon juice and fresh garlic (all available at Haymarket btw).