we take seafood seriously. in addition to being a delicious thing to eat, it is a vital part of our ecosystem. buying seafood from local fishermen who take the ecosystem seriosuly and work as hard as possible to be responsible stewards of the environment encourages others to do the same. by eating locally, we support our community - by supporting our community, we help provide for a responsible future.
generally, in deciding which species to source, we take a three-prong approach:
- “local” – we only source fish from NY, NJ, CT fishermen and shellfishermen. We want to, at any given time, be only a few hours removed from the ocean. this helps with fresher fish, clearer transparency, more relatable education, and a deeper connection with the fishermen (for us and our members).
- “stock status” – we will not target species listed as overfished or depleted (by a Fishery Council or ASMFC, respectively), or one that is subject to overfishing. we maintain a watch list of species of interest which are on the tail end of rebuilding timelines or which may have status changes. with new research and fishery managemetn reports continuously being generated, this list will see variation quarter to quarter.
- “responsibility” – elements used in determining whether we consider a fish to have been responsibly caught range from gear choices and habitat issues to transparency, ecological trends, or public health issues.
Sample Species (January 2013)
here’s a list of some of the species that made it through our three step process. we’ll be updating this list quarterly, and we’ll also be keeping an eye on several other “watch list” species on the edge of what we think is a responsible, local seafood choice.
**note: our partners target only these species’ Mid-Atlantic populations.
overall, we ask of any fish: is it local, can we catch it, and is it responsibly caught? with hundreds of fish in the oceans off of New York, New Jersey, and in the Long Island Sound, climate changes affecting fisheries ecosystems, and ever-changing marine food webs, our determinations are constantly evolving. as we learn more about our local fisheries (and we’ll always have more to learn), you’ll learn more about your local fisheries!
what is a fishery?
the word ‘fishery’ can refer to many things. generally, it encompasses everything about the harvest of fish from the ocean. fishermen, docks, boats, gear (nets, longlines, etc), the fishermen, chefs, markets, and the fish! managers often use ’fishery’ on a species-by-species and a region-by-region basis - so, for example, the ‘mid-atlantic squid fishery’ refers to the squid population of the mid-atlantic ocean, as well as the fishermen, boats, and economy based on harvesting squid in the mid-atlantic ocean. sometimes, a ‘fishery’ can be about many species – for example, the ‘alaskan groundfish fishery’ refers to the harvesting of literally dozens and dozens of fish species in alaska. here at Village Fishmonger NYC, we only source fish from local waters – meaning that we are sometimes getting fish from ‘fisheries’ that are defined as the whole atlantic ocean (e.g., tuna), and other times ‘fisheries’ that are more geographically small in scope (e.g., the new jersey inshore oyster fishery).
who manages fisheries?
a variety of agencies work on managing fisheries. ‘managing’ a fishery entails everything from setting the number of fish than can be caught in a year to setting the days, times, and places those fish can be caught. federally, the fish we source in the mid-atlantic region are managed by either the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, the Mid Atlantic Fishery Management Council, the New England Fishery Management Council, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council. on top of these managers, the states of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Rhode Island often have management authority over some parts of the lives of the fish we source. as you can imagine, with so many overlapping managing authorities for the fish caught in the mid-atlantic bight waters we get our fish from, navigating the who/what/where of each fish species is a full time job!
what is the difference between ‘overfishing’ and ‘overfished’?
FishWatch.gov – the federal government’s go-to fish information site — has the best answer: overfishing ‘refers to the rate of fishing. overfishing occurs when the rate of removal from a stock is too high, i.e. more is being taken out than is being put in. a priority for the U.S. is ending overfishing so that all stocks can rebuild and be sustained at optimal levels.’ overfished, on the other hand, is used ‘when when the population is too low, or below a prescribed threshold. in the U.S., overfished populations are required to be managed under rebuilding plans that, over time, return the population to optimal levels.‘
who are Village Fishmonger’s fishing partners?
just like how the definition of ‘fishery’ (see above) can encompass everything from the fish to the chef, our ‘partners’ in this responsible, local seafood initiative are fishermen from across the tri-state area as well as CSF pick-up partners like Grey Lady, Kaia Wine Bar, Brooklyn Commune, Jimmy’s No. 43, Choice Greene, and Huckleberry Bar.
what is bycatch?
bycatch, according to FishWatch.gov, is when fishermen are fishing for one species, but unintentionally catch other creatures that live near that species. these creatures may include other fish species, marine mammals, turtles, or even seabirds that are diving to catch their own food. fishermen try to avoid bycatch because it takes time and energy away from catching their target species. managers try to reduce bycatch and its impacts in a number of ways, such as working with fishermen to develop new gear that is more efficient in catching the target species and closing areas to fishing where or when the probability of bycatch is high.
what about fish I catch while out on a charter boat or while fishing off a pier?
when you catch your own fish, it’s called ‘recreational fishing’. Village Fishmonger encourages everyone in the tri-state area to check into their own state’s recreational fishing programs (NY, NJ, CT) to learn about safety, seasons, limits, etc. just because a fish isn’t caught by a commercial fisherman doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be counted and managed. in some cases, managers of a fishery allocate more of a species’ ‘catch limit’ to recreational fishermen than commercial fishermen!