There’s Plenty of (Trash) Fish in the Sea

Ever wonder where the fish on your plate comes from?  So did we. In our first edition of the UMass Healthy and Sustainable Food System blog series, we’ll take a look at some the issues surrounding the fishing industry and talk about how we at UMass Dining are sourcing “Trash Fish” – also known as underutilized fish – to be a part of the solution. 
For years, we at UMass Dining have been sourcing Seafood WATCH certified sustainable seafood. While we’re content with the quality of the fish we serve, the downside is that most of this certified seafood is sourced from the American Pacific Northwest, especially off the Alaskan coast. We challenged ourselves to find out, is there a way we can source sustainably-harvested fish, lower our carbon footprint, and support local fisheries? (We think so!) 
By incorporating “Trash Fish,” or underutilized, edible, tasty seafood, into our dining commons we are lessening our impact on our oceans. While many of us haven’t heard of – let alone eaten – Acadian Red Fish or Dogfish, we can substitute them for popular, endangered fish to create exciting and nutritious dishes.  
Here’s what the Chef’s Collaborative has to say about Trash Fish: 

“Local chefs are concerned about the health of the Atlantic and of local fishing communities, hit hard by catch limit cutbacks to imperiled groundfish like Cod and the recently announced closure of the Gulf of Maine shrimp fishery. 
While we believe that there is really no such thing as a “Trash Fish,” historically the name has been applied to species of fish that weren’t worth pursuing or bringing to market by fishermen. 
The chefs will show that these fish are anything but trash, and that the decision to help save our oceans and our fishing communities by choosing undervalued species, can be a delicious choice.” 


On February 18, we invite you to come down to your favorite DC to learn how UMass Dining is helping to create markets for underutilized “Trash Fish” that will allow small local fisheries to stay 
financially stable while popular fish species naturally replenish themselves. We’ll be cooking up some of our favorite “trash fish” dishes for you to try- you’ll be surprised by the new unique flavors and creative dishes!  


Picture Image sourced from Sea 2 Table Sea 2 Table’s redfish is caught by small boats 
that fish out of Portland, Maine, one of New England’s oldest working waterfronts. By choosing this species we are supporting a traditional American fishery. 
Acadian redfish is a deepwater groundfish 
harvested in the Gulf of Maine by Captain 
David Haggerty on the F/V Harmony. The redfish population we target is piloting a new harvest strategy that uses a different type of net to eliminate by-catch. True to their name, 
redfish have bright red skin, but their flesh is white and flaky. Sea 2 Table works closely with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute to ensure that our redfish meet their strict responsibly harvested criteria. 
Picture Image sourced from Sea 2 Table Sea to Table’s Dogfish is caught by small 
dayboats using environmentally sensitive fishing gear up and down the eastern 
seaboard. By choosing this species we support domestic fishermen and their traditional fishing communities.   
Dogfish used to be overfished due to international popularity but proper management and awareness have allowed the 
species to return to abundant levels. Dogfish is now considered an underutilized healthy and delicious fish.  


Starting this semester, UMass Dining will incorporate “Trash Fish” menu items into the rotating menu cycles at all 4 of our Dining Commons. 
In addition to our new “Trash Fish” program, UMass Dining sources only Seafood WATCH certified seafood. This means that when we source our fish, we purchase from fisheries that have taken into consideration their environmental impact and taken steps to lessen it. These fisheries also avoid vulnerable areas and use more gentle catching techniques. By following guidelines and recommendations, these fisheries get a Seafood WATCH seal of approval and we know we can feel confident purchasing seafood from them. 
Learn more about UMass Dining’s sustainability programs on our website