Whether you buy fish from a grocery store or from a fishmonger, it’s important to know what to look for when you’re on the hunt for sustainably caught fish.
Since Spencer Watts, the host of Fish the Dish (Thursday at 10:30 p.m. ET on Gusto), is quite the fishing expert, he let us in on a few of the basics for catching and buying fish sustainably:
Know your fishing zones.
It’s always important to check in on where it’s safe to fish and where you’re allowed to fish before casting your line. If you want to catch fish without damaging their ecosystem or protect the longevity of a fish species, you need to know exactly what fishing zones you have to avoid.
“I usually fish at zone 16. You can go onto a fisheries website to look for algae blooms, species that are closed, or any tagging going on,” said Watts.
Each fish species has different rules.
When fishing, you might think that you deserve to take home anything you catch as a prize–because there are millions of other fish in the sea, so no big deal, right? Wrong.
To maintain different species of fish, there are actually very strict guidelines as to what you can keep and what you need to toss back into the water.
For instance, Watts says that “you can only keep male crabs, [and they] can only be be 6 inches from point to point.”
If you’re planning on catching something yourself, check out your local fishing website to find out what needs to be released.
Look at the labels.
Watts recommends looking for three kinds of labels that represent sustainably caught fish when you’re shopping: ASC, MSC and Ocean Wise.
According to the ASC (Aquaculture Stewardship Council) website, its logo indicates fish that come from a “certified aquaculture source.” Every time this logo pops up on a package of fish, rest assured knowing it caught responsibly.
Alternatively, the MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) logo also indicates that seafood comes from a certified sustainable source.
The Ocean Wise logo, given to fisheries around Canada by the Vancouver Aquarium, is one last way to identify fish caught responsibly, and is a great resource to help you make guilt-free choices when grocery shopping. So if you come across a slab of fish without any of these logos, you may want to keep looking.
Longline fishing trumps all.
“B.C. Albacore tuna is all caught by a longline–the most sustainable kind [of fishing],” Watts explained.
For those of you who don’t know, it involves running a long fishing line along the surface of the water with baited hooks. And that means only a certain number of fish can be removed from an ecosystem at one time, which is as sustainable as it gets. It’s not good to be too greedy, after all.
“Sellers of fish are getting pretty conscious of sustainable fishing, so if you ask the questions, they’ll be happy to answer,” said Watts.
If you have any questions at a fish market or even at your local grocery store, don’t be afraid to ask about where their fish came from. Asking questions is your most basic resource.
You can catch the season finale of Fish The Dish Thursday at 10:30 p.m. ET on Gusto.