When the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program rates a fish as "green" (read: "sustainable") that's a good thing. When that fish is an invasive species, it's even better. Such is the case with the Chesapeake Bay blue catfish, an invasive species found in the rivers of the Chesapeake Bay, that was just given the aquarium's highest designation for sustainability.
"The green rating indicates that the Seafood Watch program recommends the blue catfish as a‘best choice’ in seafood, meaning consumers should preferentially purchase the fish," says Sharon Feuer-Gruber, co-founder of the Wide Net Project. Gruber and co-founder Wendy Stuart started the Wide Net Project as a way of addressing ecological issues in the Chesapeake Bay, along with the growing hunger problem in Washington, D.C. In fact, "The Wide Net Project’s goal is to get as much fish out of the water as possible and feed our neighbors in need, while also supporting the local economy and conservation," according to their website. It's a win-win with a delicious outcome!
"The Chesapeake Bay blue catfish is the first invasive species nationally to be assessed and rated by the Seafood Watch program," says Feuer-Gruber. Achieving a green rating is significant for the Bay because it can help spur demand for the fish. This not only fuels economic development but helps to cull the population of these invasives, which outcompete native species and disrupt the ecosystem. It's also a great way to get high-quality protein to local hunger relief organizations, because for each pound of blue catfish sold through Wide Net Project, one portion is donated to these organizations.
Distribution of the fish started through restaurants and suppliers, but now it's also available through retailer Mom's Market, which only sells sustainable seafood. I'm looking forward to trying it myself this week. Please pass the tartar sauce!
UPDATE: I cooked the catfish in some butter, salt and pepper tonight and it was delicious. Firm like salmon, not fishy at all but not quite as mild as haddock or cod. It would be great in fish tacos. Also, I found out that Whole Foods sells it as well.