Last week, The Post and Courier hosted a conversation on how we can support the local seafood industry. The livestream, hosted by Parker Milner, Food & Dining Editor, featured panelists Kerry Marhefka and James London.
Kerry Marhefka, South Atlantic Fishery Management Council Member, co-owns Abundant Seafood in Mount Pleasant alongside her husband, Mark. Mark takes multi-day trips on a 39 foot boat, Amy Marie – check her out on Shem Creek! He generally goes out at 6 knots and 35+ miles off shore for 4-5 days at a time. When he’s back on land, he’s cleaning and filleting fish, delivering seafood, on the boat, and taking orders for customers. At Abundant Seafood you can expect to find fish like Vermillion Snapper, Flounder, Swordfish, Triggerfish, Grouper, and Mahi.
James London, Chef/Owner of dock-to-table seafood concept, Chubby Fish, cooks regularly with fish that people aren’t as familiar with. The fishermen dictate the daily-changing menu based on the catch of the day. In his industry, adaptability is key. Two fish he’s been working with regularly are the Mutton Snapper and Grey Tilefish. The Mutton Snapper is an as-close-as-you-can-get comparison to the American Red Snapper. Golden Tilefish are the more well-known varietal of Grey Tilefish; however, Grey lend beautifully to both raw and cooked preparations.
What determines catch limits?
Fishery management councils have a science and statistical committee that assess a species every few years. Fish are deemed “fine,” “undergoing overfishing,” or “overfished.” Grouper, for example, are currently being rebuilt and extracted only at a rate that allows the population to be rebuilt in a healthy manner.
What can buyers do to support the local seafood industry?
- + Try and go to local markets whenever possible! In Charleston, we love Crosby’s, Mount Pleasant Seafood, Abundant Seafood just to name a few!
- + If you can’t buy hyper-local seafood, purchase wild caught, American seafood
- + Don’t correlate United States wild caught seafood with overfishing. It’s illegal to overfish in the United States, so you know you can feel good about American-caught fish.
How about farm raised seafood?
Chef James incorporates lots of farm raised oysters on his menu, which is a healthy and sustainable farming method. In the future, he says it’s likely inevitable we’re going to see more farm raised seafood;. However, contrary to popular belief, it’s not related to overfishing. The best thing we can do is protect our wild seafood populations by supporting small-scale local businesses who are harvesting responsibility.
To learn more about the sustainable food movement and how you can support South Carolina commercial fishermen and the fish they catch, check out this article from The Post and Courier.