Know Your Catch
One of the greatest environmental comeback’s stories in modern history. Once overfished to the brink of collapse, after three decades of science driven management which put rigorous regulations into place, West Coast groundfish stocks have made an astonishing recovery. Nobody should be more enthused about this news than fishermen yet today, 90% of the seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported from overseas. So what gives?! U.S. fisheries are, arguably the most highly regulated fisheries in the world, intended to promote the resilience of wild populations. And to top it off, you won’t find nefarious labor practices being used to harvest or process fish state-side. Cast away the former story that waters in the U.S. are overfished. This is a new era - so let’s eat!
Sablefish | Black Cod
Flavor: Rich, buttery, distinct flavor, and oily content - being laden with Omega 3 fatty acids - are trademarks of this species. Large delicate flakes make it optimal for baking, broiling, grilling and smoking.
Sometimes referred to as Butterfish (and they live up to that name) they are a deep dwelling, living up to 5,000 ft deep. With a wide distribution, Sablefish are abundant all along the West Coast. As bottom dwellers, they are most often found along soft or muddy substrates where they prey on crustaceans and other benthic organisms. Although they are a long-lived species, they mature quickly into breeding adults.
Sablefish have a long history of being commercially harvested and in quantities much higher than the species could afford. Recognizing that groundfish species in general were being impacted by fishing pressures, more conservative management efforts were adopted. Changes included establishing trip limits, permits, spatial restrictions, and vessel monitoring.
As a result of proactive management, Sablefish is available year round and is rapidly becoming a favorite amongst consumers. Once you’ve tasted it, you’ll know why.
Catch method: Traps, Hook & Line (Long-line)
Genus Sebastes (60+ species)
Flavor: Rockfish are lean, with sweet sometimes nutty accents. With medium-firm texture and medium sized flakes, preparation options are versatile.
One of the most common, yet diverse fish found along the West Coast. California alone has 59 unique species, 52 of which are recreationally and commercially significant. Vibrant colors, shapes and sizes are appropriately paired with names such as ‘Chilipepper’ and ‘Vermilion’.
Rockfish can be found anywhere from the shallows to the deepest and darkest water, either handing close to the bottom or suspended in the water column. As opportunistic feeders, rockfish dine on plankton, small crustaceans and other fish.
Historically speaking, rockfish have quite the story. Abundant and accessible, rockfish were heavily fished. Many of the longer lived and larger species eventually were declared overfished in the early 2000’s. By means of rigorous and often restrictive management and conservation efforts, rockfish have rebounded spectacularly. In fact, what had been nearly a dozen overfished species is now down only a handful. To add, management and conservation is a result of state, federal and non-government institutions and achieved through catch limited, spatial restrictions and seasons to list a few.
Catch method: Hook & Line, Traps, Trawling