Get Hooked: Local fishermen and their catch take center stage at Monterey Bay restaurants

In fishing ports across the country, it’s often difficult to find the local catch in local restaurants. Salmon, tuna, shrimp and cod are menu staples. While all delicious, they don’t often reflect seasonal fish local fishermen are taking back to the docks.

To counter this, a group of local organizations, businesses and fishermen in Monterey, Calif. are spotlighting the local catch and area chefs who bring them to plate with “Get Hooked,” a week-long initiative to recognize restaurants that provide the in-season harvest to their patrons.

“Commercial fishing is an icon of Monterey’s history, yet most consumers are unaware that 90 percent of the seafood we eat in the U.S. today is imported,” said Roger Burleigh, marketing and supply chain manager for the Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust who’s spearheading the campaign. “We want to draw attention back to our local seafood bounty and the fishermen who catch it.”

Reflecting the season, the “Get Hooked” features local rockfish including vermillion, canary and chilipepper, as well as black cod, presented in both classic and unique ways by Monterey chefs.

Underlying the campaign is both the demise and resurrection of California groundfish stocks. What was once declared a federal economic disaster in the early 2000s, nearly all stocks have rebounded and all that are commercially caught are listed by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch as a “good choice” or “best alternative.” But with the years-long dearth in supply of locally caught groundfish and the increased competition from farmed and imported fish, local seafoods markets have found it more difficult rebounding than the once-imperiled fish stocks.

“Many of our Monterey Bay groundfish species, once depleted, have made an astonishing recovery and are now being rediscovered by local chefs and consumers,” said Barbara Meister, public affairs director at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. “It’s time to reward the hard work and tenacity of local fishermen, who have changed their practices to support a sustainable groundfish harvest.”

About the author

Nick Rahaim

Nick Rahaim is a writer and commercial fisherman based in Monterey, Calif. Check out his website, outside-in.org, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram @nrahaim.

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