Sunday, March 14, 2010, 7:45 am
Analiese Paik of the Fairfield Green Food Guide discussed sustainable seafood with Matt Scott on Ch. 8’s Good Morning Connecticut Show
Why Sustainable Seafood?
Nearly 75% of the world’s fisheries are fished to capacity, or overfished. Our seafood choices have a direct impact on the health of our oceans. I recently became an advocate for Seafood Watch, a program of the Monterey Bay Aquarium that helps consumers and businesses choose seafood that is fished or farmed in ways that don’t harm the environment or deplete stocks. Their sustainable seafood recommendations come in handy pocket guides and mobile applications that indicate which seafood items are “Best Choices,” “Good Alternatives,” and which ones you should “Avoid.” These can be downloaded from their site, seafoodwatch.org.
The Case for US Shrimp
Imported wild shrimp is on the “avoid” list at Seafood Watch because shrimp trawl nets accidentally catch and kill more than 1.8 mm tons of marine life worldwide each year. Farmed shrimp is also on the “avoid” list because shrimp farms have destroyed millions of acres of coastal habitat worldwide. What shrimp should we eat? Seafood Watch recommends US shrimp instead because it is caught under tighter US environmental standards. Luckily we are close to Maine and can enjoy the Maine shrimp season, which is nearing its end.
A Seasonal Delicacy
The supply of Northern or pink shrimp from the Gulf of Maine is so bountiful this year that the Maine State Department of Marine Resources has extended the season to May 1. I bought these yesterday from Pemaquid Seafood, a vendor at the Norwalk Indoor Winter Farmers’ Market at 61 Wall Street, and cooked them briefly in salted boiling water until they turned an opaque pink and the tails curled up. Aren’t they delicious? So sweet and flavorful and available with the head and tail on for maximum flavor, headless, or already peeled. All you need is some bread and a salad from these winter markets and you’ve got a local feast. Availability is subject to Wednesday’s catch so check this website for updates on the catch of the week. www.pemaquidlobster.com. Pemaquid is also in Naugatuck on Fridays at 786 Rubber Ave from 9:30am-5pm. Don’t forget to bring a cooler with ice.
Shop from Retailers Dedicated to Preserving Ocean Health
Target and Whole Foods Market are two retailers who sell sustainable seafood based in part on guidance from the Seafood Watch program. Target has eliminated all farmed salmon from its stores, citing guidance from the Seafood Watch program. This is a huge development from a major retailer, and it means that no farmed salmon will be sold as fresh, frozen or shelf items in any of its more than 1,700 popular stores. Most salmon are farmed in open net pens, and waste from these farms is released directly into the oceans, polluting waters and spreading disease. Seafood watch recommends wild -caught salmon or Artic char instead.
Whole Foods Markets was one of the first American companies to join the Marine Stewardship Council in 1999, a group committed to working together towards the common goal of rebuilding declining seafood populations. In keeping with Whole Foods Market’s continuous efforts towards having fully sustainable seafood for its customers nationwide, they began working with the Seafood Watch and the Blue Ocean Institute to offer consumers a new, progressive Wild-Caught Seafood Ranking System.
Equally importantly, they source their clams, oysters and lobsters from Westport Aquaculture, a 5th generation family-owned shellfish business with over 600 acres of beds in the Western Long Island Sound. You may have heard the term “stewards of the land” in reference to farmers who take good care of the land, well Captain Jeff Northrop in association with Norm Bloom & Sons and Tim Pramer are “Stewards of the Beds”. Instead of carting away the oceans, they are only harvesting what they sow. They seed the beds with baby clams and oysters they purchase, grow them to the size of a quarter in an upweller (ocean incubation tank), and then plant them in their beds to grow and spawn naturally. When they are mature, they are harvested using turn-of-the century refurbished boats in Norwalk and Westport.
Westport Aquaculture sells their catch to Whole Foods Markets in CT and NY plus high-end restaurants looking for super-fresh, sustainable seafood like The Dressing Room in Westport, Match restaurant in Norwalk, La Villa in Westport and Blue Hill and Stone Barns in New York. This is an excellent source for year-round local and sustainable shellfish. Lobsters are caught in traps by the two remaining lobster fishermen in Fairfield County and must adhere to very strict size restrictions. The catch is highly regulated and there is a healthy supply of lobsters . Visit Westport Aquaculture at the Westport and Ridgefield Summer Farmers’ Markets or online at www. Westportaquaculture.com. (Editors Note: The site is temporarily down while undergoing renovation.)