A trash fish also called ‘rough fish‘ typically signifies a fish that does not have any food value commercially. Definitions of what constitutes a trash fish varies widely across the world. Attitudes about fish species have evolved over time, thus we have the ability to make these more commercially viable. The lobster was once regarded as fodder for only the most desperate of the lower classes, but is considered a delicacy today. Likewise, carp is a trash fish in the United States, but highly prized in Asia as a food fish and in Europe as a sport fish.
Communities today are consuming certain fish in large numbers and ignoring the other half, considering them trash fish. The problem with this kind of eating is it’s neither sustainable for the humans consuming it nor the environment providing it. For example Cape Cod was once famous for its large number of cod fish, but their numbers are dwindling today because of the excess demand. Within the last several years, the numbers of cod and haddock have dropped, so much so that the government has declared the fishery a disaster. But nature finds a way to replace and replenish, Cods in England have fled to colder Greenland waters but find a perfect replacement in their close cousin Atlantic Pollock.
Sustainable sea-food consumption exists in its infancy stage. The mainstream markets have not caught up with the changes in the marine ecosystem.This is in part due to the non-availability of these fishes in super markets and people’s reluctance in trying new fish. For example, Codfish which is beloved by many Americans is seeing a fast decline in numbers while fishing and had to be imported from places like Iceland now. Many chefs are filling this divide between the consumers and the fishermen. Chefs Collaborative constantly hosts trash fish dinner to show how delicious these fishes can taste.
People becoming aware of these lesser known fish and adding additional species of fish to the commercial mix will help strengthen the viability of fisherman who rely upon the local marine environment to provide for their economic sustenance. Creating better markets for under loved fish provides badly needed income to independent fishermen and the traditional fishing communities they support. Targeting lesser known species lessens fishing pressure on more popular fish, and because they do not have the market demand they cost less. Lower cost means better profit for chefs and restaurants.
Top 10 Most Consumed Sea-Food
These fish inevitably become the most expensive by virtue of their excessive demand. Most are not home-grown anymore and have to be imported. Excessive fishing of only a particular species causes immense damage to our aquatic ecosystem. Most are also breeded in questionable methods and may not be even fished in their natural environment.
Top 10 Trash Fish To Try
Trash is a terrible name for these fish. They might lack a market but they hold a lot of value as nutritious food in addition to being delicious. Here are a few you can try.
.Ivory King Salmon: It’s considered a trash fish but in reality it’s very close to the red salmon except for its white texture. The fish contains a gene that prevents the expression of its natural pink color. Despite its excellent taste and texture, it’s worth far less per pound to commercial fisherman.
.Atlantic Pollock: It is the same family as Cod and Haddock and has the same flavor profile.
.Hake: It also has a similar flavor profile as Codfish.
.Atlantic Spiny Dogfish: It’s usually exported to Europe for fish and chips but has now become a low cost MSC-certified species. The fish is easy to work with and light flavored with a texture similar to swordfish. But the price has dropped down to 14 cents making it hard for fishermen to make a profit out of selling them.
.Gulf of Maine Redfish: They used to be lobster bait once but are a healthy, delicious and a cost-effective replacement for Tilapia.
.Blue Channel Catfish: They have invaded the Chakespeare Bay in vast numbers, they make an excellent food fish.
.Jacks and Mullet: These fishes have long been appreciated around the Gulf of Mexico for their excellent taste and texture.
.California Sardines: They are making a great comeback because of their versatility.
.Wild Alaska Salmon: Salmons consist of five distinct species with keta and pinks having all the health benefits of some of the best fishes with a much lower price point.
.Pacific Skate, Wolf Eel and Sand Dabs: They are relatively unknown but have a nice flavor.
You can give a boost to these ‘trash fish’ and the fishermen who catch them, by asking your local restaurants or markets for them by their name. If you do not know which species are local to your area, check if Chefs Collaborative has held a trash fish dinner in your area or ask them to come and hold one. They typically describe the dishes served on their website, to give you an idea of which fish you aren’t eating yet but should be. You can take away valuable lessons of integrating new fish in some of your favorite recipes while causing a major difference helping fishermen and the aquatic ecosystem.