Eat These Fish.
That's the name of a new campaign from the Environmental Defense Fund. It celebrates 12 formerly at-risk fish species back from the brink, and helps restaurateurs understand how to better source affordable, sustainable, great-tasting seafood.
The National Restaurant Association helped the EDF kick off the campaign at a June 6 event at NRA headquarters in D.C. during Capitol Hill Ocean Week.
Eat These Fish focuses on 12 species. The list includes Pacific Ocean perch, snow crab, lingcod, longnose skate, yellowtail rockfish, chilipepper rockfish, whiting, Acadian redfish, monkfish, Atlantic pollock, red snapper, and red grouper. In most cases, the fisheries harvesting these fish have switched up their management practices in recent years to focus on sustainability.
“We’re pleased to help raise awareness about these fish," said Laura Abshire, the NRA’s director of sustainability policy.
“More consumers are interested in eco-friendly seafood and want to support businesses that align with their values. As a result, more restaurateurs are purchasing sustainable seafood. It’s good for business and the environment.”
Tim Fitzgerald, director of the EDF’s Fishery Solutions Center, said he wants to introduce restaurateurs and their guests to fisheries that have made a turnaround and recovered.
“We wanted to share a positive story about seafood and let people know there’s a lot of good fish out there,” he said.
Four takeaways from Fitzgerald:
1. There are ways to go domestic. If you're a restaurant or foodservice operation, you likely rely on imported seafood. Imported seafood accounts for more than 90 percent of fish consumed in the United States. Eat This Fish helps restaurateurs learn how to incorporate more American fish onto menus and support U.S. fishermen and sustainable seafood.
2. Fisheries want to share their stories. Fisheries are getting smarter about sustainability. They're using better science, setting better catch limits, using cleaner gear, and making sure they don't overfish. They're staying out of sensitive areas where they shouldn’t fish. Ask your fisheries what they're doing to promote a more sustainable fish supply.
3. You can help tell some fish tales. Your guests are curious about the food they eat. They want stories. The 12 fish on the list have great stories. They're eclectic, a lot of people haven't heard of them, and the management turnaround at these fisheries is part of the story. Tell the stories to your guests.
4. You don't have to sacrifice reliability or price. Restaurateurs care about sustainability but also need a reliable supply and consistent quality and pricing. If you're looking to put wild seafood on your menu, these fisheries are in a good place to deliver. Also, many of these fish are affordable, which is important for restaurants on tight margins. "Sustainable seafood does not have to equate to expensive seafood,” Fitzgerald said.
Pictured, top: East Coast Acadian Redfish served at the Eat These Fish launch