Not all seafood is sustainable and available in a seemingly unlimited supply. Some fish are harpooned rather than netted and some are fished to the brink of extinction. How do you know which ones are which? How to tell which fish are sustainable and which ones you should be avoiding?
There’s usually very limited information available from the restaurant or grocery store where you buy your fish. You have to know ahead of time where the fish comes from and how it is sourced. Here are five seafood items that are typically fished responsibly and can be considered sustainable seafood.
1. Local Catfish
This is one of the most commonly served fish throughout the southern United states. Catfish is tender and has a pinkish to white color. Its popularity stems from the fact that it doesn’t have an overwhelmingly fishy smell- it’s scent closer to that of raw chicken. It’s also a low-calorie seafood that’s full of vitamins and minerals.
How sustainable is it? Part of the reason why it’s so common is because there’s plenty of it. You can find catfish farms throughout certain states in America where fish are raised by the thousands. There’s little chance that we will run out of catfish, even at the rate that is currently consumed. There’s just so much that is being produced, both naturally and on catfish farms.
2. Dungeness Crab
With a juicy and sweet meat, the Dungeness crab is one of the top choices for seafood in the northern United States. It’s found most commonly in Maine and Massachusetts where crab cakes and shelled crabs are incredibly common. It’s also one of the meatier crabs you can find, made up of about 25% meet. So, for a 2-pound crab, you get about half a pound of usable meat.
How sustainable is it? These crabs can be found all up and down the northern coast of the United States. Beaches and rocky coves are often packed with Dungeness crabs. They are also harvested in safe in sustainable way, with harvesters using specific types of approved traps and limiting the size of crabs they are allowed to catch.
3. Bivalves: Mussels, Clams, and Oysters
Bivalves such as mussels, clams, oysters, and scallops are perhaps the most environmentally sound animal species group. Whether wild-caught or sourced from farms, shellfish have a very low environmental impact compared to traditional protein sources like chicken, pork, or beef.
As filter-feeders, bivalves don’t require any feeding; instead, they get their sustenance from organic matter and particulates in the sea. This eliminates the cost and energy requirements of sourcing animal feed. And because shellfish actively filter water (a single clam can go through 4.5 gallons of water a day), they also improve water quality and clarity, encouraging the growth of aquatic plants that other fish feed on.
4. Alaskan Salmon
The most common type of salmon served throughout the United States, this wild salmon is an excellent source of nutrition. It is rich in Omega 3. Salmon can be stored for long periods of time canned, ensuring it is less likely to go bad and would need to be replaced, compared to other types of seafood. It also has a rather mild taste, making it easier to cook with and to combine with other foods for a balanced meal.
How sustainable is it? Salmon fishing is regulated throughout the United States by more than one agency. On top of that, the salmon population is hardy and can quickly bounce back in areas where it is fished to near extinction. If left alone for years or even months, in some cases, the salmon population can quickly and naturally restore itself.
You can eat the entire sardine, including the skin and bones. The entire fish is very soft, and you probably won’t even notice you are eating the parts generally avoided in other fish. Sardines are also rich in calcium and can be served on sandwiches, pizza, in pasta, and with a variety of other dishes. They do have a strong marine taste though, but the right combination of seasoning or the right pairing with another dish can help to disguise that.
How sustainable is it? Sardines are being fished very responsibly these days, and the way they are fished ensures that few other sea creatures are being caught at the same time.