Fish, Seafood and Sustainable Information

Fish, Seafood and Sustainable Information

CHOOSING SUSTAINABLE
Sustainable seafood is a hot topic these days. “Sustainability” is based on a simple principle – meeting today’s needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs; for example, using a resource but leaving some for the future. In terms of seafood, this means catching or farming seafood responsibly, with consideration for the long-term health of the environment and the livelihoods of the people that depend upon the environment. For example, U.S. seafood is wild-caught and farm-raised under strict regulations that work to keep the environment healthy, fish populations thriving, and our seafood industry on the job.

Choosing sustainable seafood be challenging – how do you know the seafood at the market or on your menu came from sustainable sources? Read on to learn more about the seafood guides and ecolabels that have recently emerged to assist people with purchasing sustainable seafood, as well as a few general tips for making smart seafood choices.

TO EAT OR NOT TO EAT
A number of organizations have created seafood guides to assist consumers and buyers with their “sustainable seafood” choices. Seafood guides rate seafood, typically based on environmental and biological criteria of species, fisheries, or aquaculture practices. Some guides include health concerns regarding mercury or other contaminants. The ratings found in these guides generally reflect an organization’s policy stance regarding these issues, and as a result, the guides sometimes contradict each other. They also vary in their structure and how they categorize seafood. For example, one guide might rate yellowfin tuna as a whole while another might break it down by country of origin and fishing method.

CERTIFIABLY SUSTAINABLE
While shopping for seafood, you might also notice that some seafood is displayed with an ecolabel . An ecolabel is a “seal of approval” awarded to fisheries and aquaculture operations deemed sustainable and responsible by third-party certification bodies. The certification process typically involves an in-depth assessment of the operation of the fishery or farm, how it’s regulated, and its impact on the environment. If the fishery or farm meets the ecolabel’s standards, it is certified. Another key element of ecolabels is chain of custody: the measures that guarantee the product bearing the ecolabel really came from the certified fishery or farm. Without chain of custody, the credibility of the label could be undermined.
Ecolabels are intended to function as a market-based incentive to promote more environmentally-friendly fisheries and aquaculture operations. As concerned consumers shift their demand to certified products, market prices for these products will increase, encouraging fisheries and aquaculture operations to adopt more sustainable and responsible practices. However, the certification process can require a large investment of time and money – resources that some fisheries and aquaculture operations cannot afford.

WHAT YOU CAN DO
With all of the information, guides, and labels out there, shopping for seafood can seem a bit daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.
Stay informed and make sure you’re using the most up-to-date, credible resources.
Just like when choosing quality seafood, buy seafood from knowledgeable, reputable dealers. Many retailers and chefs are implementing seafood procurement policies, making purchasing seafood from sustainable sources a priority.

Ask questions about seafood. Where is it from? Is it wild-caught or farm-raised?
Most of all, remember you have a choice – make it a smart one.

BUYING SEAFOOD
Step up to the seafood counter or frozen fish case and you’ll see an enticing display of one type of seafood after another. How do you choose? How do you know if it’s safe, high-quality, or even sustainable? Read on to find out how we inspect seafood for safety in the United States, and learn how to choose quality, sustainable seafood.

INSPECTING SEAFOOD
Many state and federal agencies including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Commerce work together to ensure that the seafood we buy is safe and wholesome. Seafood, just like milk, bread, and produce, are subject to the requirements of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, administered by the FDA. Under the FDA’s mandatory fish inspection program as well as voluntary quality inspection programs, the vast majority of seafood in the marketplace is safe to eat. LEARN MORE about how seafood is inspected in the United States to ensure it’s safe and high quality.

CHOOSING QUALITY
It’s pretty simple to choose quality, fresh seafood. Just use your senses – smell, sight, touch…and even common sense! First and foremost, buy seafood from knowledgeable, reputable dealers: those you trust with a known record of proper handling practices. Our seafood inspectors often say “the nose knows” – if a seafood counter or freezer case smells fishy, go somewhere else. Fresh, quality seafood should smell like the ocean, not sour or fishy.
Keep an eye out for general cleanliness and proper handling, too. Seafood should be properly iced and refrigerated or frozen. Also, go ahead and plan your menu for seafood, but wait until you are at the market before deciding the exact type of fish to buy. Here you will be able to select the highest quality items at the counter or in the freezer case. Once you’ve found a good source for your seafood, LEARN MORE guidelines about shopping for fresh and frozen seafood to ensure you are purchasing the best product possible.
CHOOSING SUSTAINABLE

Sustainable seafood is a hot topic these days. “Sustainability” is based on a simple principle – meeting today’s needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs; for example, using a resource but leaving some for the future. In terms of seafood, this means catching or farming seafood responsibly, with consideration for the long-term health of the environment and the livelihoods of the people that depend upon the environment. For example, U.S. seafood is wild-caught and farm-raised under strict regulations that work to keep the environment healthy, fish populations thriving, and our seafood industry on the job.

Choosing sustainable seafood can be challenging – how do you know the seafood at the market or on your menu came from sustainable sources? LEARN MORE about the seafood guides and ecolabels that have recently emerged to assist people with purchasing sustainable seafood, as well as a few general tips for making smart seafood choices

HANDLING SEAFOOD
Many people shy away from eating seafood at home because they’re unsure how to properly handle it. Seafood is more perishable than many food items, so you must pay a little more attention to its careful handling. But don’t let that scare you away from a delicious, nutritious meal – as recommended by Delaware Sea Grant’s Consumer’s Guide to Safe Seafood Handling , just remember to “keep it cold, keep it moving, and keep it clean.” Follow these general guidelines to maintain the quality and safety of your seafood.

KEEP IT COLD
…from the store to your home, in your refrigerator or freezer, and even when thawing for use.
Purchase seafood last during your shopping trip, and bring a cooler to transport it home. If you’ve caught your own fish, bury them on ice immediately or use an ice slush with 2 parts ice to 1 part water to keep your catch cold.

When you bring seafood home, store it in the coldest part of your refrigerator at a temperature as close to 32 degrees Fahrenheit as possible. Many home refrigerators operate at 40 degree Fahrenheit, so it’s a good idea to put your seafood on ice as well.
To store fresh finfish, pack whole dressed fish on ice in the refrigerator. Seal fillets and steaks in plastic bags or containers, then cover them with ice in a pan. Wash fish that is not prepackaged under cold water and pat it dry with paper towels. Wrap it in moisture-proof paper or plastic wrap or place it in a plastic bag or air-tight container, then place on ice in the refrigerator. Drain the pan and add more ice as necessary. To freeze fresh finfish, wrap it tightly in moisture-proof bags or in plastic wrap and aluminum foil (so the fish won’t dry out) and store it in the freezer.
Shellfish, such as mussels, clams, and oysters, that are purchased live in their shells, should be placed in a dry shallow pan, covered with moistened paper towels, and refrigerated. Shucked shellfish can be placed in a sealed container and frozen.

Store fresh shrimp, scallops, and squid in a zippered bag or airtight container and refrigerate on ice.
Frozen seafood should be kept frozen, and it’s a good idea to date packages of frozen seafood so you can use the older seafood first. Frozen seafood must be thawed properly. It’s best to thaw frozen seafood in the refrigerator overnight. If you’re in a rush, you can also immerse frozen seafood in cold water for a short time in a sealed plastic bag, or microwave it on a defrost setting until the fish is pliable but still icy. Be careful not to overheat the seafood while thawing in the microwave or you will start the cooking process.
KEEP IT MOVING
…use fresh fish within 2 days after purchase. Shelf life varies with the species, from as long as 10 days for oysters in the shell to 1 day for fresh squid. See the National Fisheries Institute’s Seafood Storage Guide for information on the shelf life of a variety of fresh and frozen seafood.
KEEP IT CLEAN
…your hands, your work area, your utensils! Also, keep raw seafood away from other raw or cooked foods to prevent cross-contamination. Use cutting boards that are easy to clean – plastic, acrylic, or rubber. Do not use wooden cutting boards for seafood because they are porous and difficult to clean thoroughly. Finally, serve your cooked seafood on clean plates, not on the plate that held the raw product.
KEEP INFORMED

A number of excellent resources can provide more in-depth information on properly handling seafood. Some of our favorites include:
NOAA’s Seafood Inspection Program Consumer Tips
Delaware Sea Grant’s Consumer’s Guide to Safe Seafood Handling
Seafoodhealthfacts.org
National Fisheries Institute’s Seafood Storage Guide
California Sea Grant’s Seafood Network Information Center
Thanks to the NOAA for the information to share.

LOBSTER MAC AND CHEESE
Ingredients:

1 pound Fussili Pasta
8 ounces of mascarpone
4 ounces of creamy goat cheese
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Pinch of white pepper
2 ounces of heavy cream

Set out all ingredients at room temperature 1 hour before preparing. Bring 2 gallons of salted water to a rolling boil. Cook pasta until al dente. Strain and return to pot. Keep warm. Stir in mascarpone, goat cheese, and heavy cream. Add seasonings. Do not over stir or mix. Cover and keep warm.

Butter Poached Lobster
Ingredients:

1-1/2 pounds of fresh cooked American lobster meat (claw and knuckle or combination of claw, knuckle, and tail)
1 pound of salted butter
1 tablespoon of water

Cut butter into 1 inch chunks. Hold at room temperature up to one hour. Bring 1 tablespoon of water to a boil in heavy deep sauté pan. Reduce heat to low. Add butter one or two chunks at a time, whisking to create an emulsion. Once this emulsifies, all the butter may be added. Turn heat to low. If using claw or knuckle meat, add meat to pan. Do not chop or cut. If using tail meat, cut tails into one inch medallions. Gently incorporate into butter. Cover and hold at low heat.

To serve

Spoon 4-6 ounces of mac and cheese into center of a pasta bowl or plate. Arrange 3 ounces of lobster meat on top and on side of the mac and cheese. Use equal amounts of claw, knuckle and tail meat. Ladle 1-2 ounces of butter sauce over the meat. Serves 8. ENJOY!

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