Guilt-Free Fish

| 17 Feb 2015 | 05:08

New York City celebrates sustainable seafood

Upper WEST Side Beginning on Tuesday, a group of local fishermen, restaurant chefs and organizations around the city have gathered to discuss the peril that faces our oceans: a fast-dwindling supply of seafood. This week marks New York's second annual Sustainable Seafood Week. Due to overfishing, the destruction of marine habitats caused by development and acidification of the oceans created by climate change, 70 percent of the world's fish populations are threatened, with some of the most popular species in particular crisis: the Pacific Bluefin tuna population, for example, has suffered a 96 percent decline.

Those figures weighed heavily on Sean Dixon's mind last year when he and his Village Fishmonger co-founders, Samantha Lee and Dennis O'Connor, launched the first annual Sustainable Seafood Week. The trio, who run a sustainable seafood company here in the city as well as a popular CSF, or community-supported fishery program, decided that New York City diners-a seafood-loving bunch-ought to know more about how their dinners are caught.

"We as the founders wanted to do two things," Dixon said. "Firstly, we just wanted fresher seafood options for ourselves, as diners and lovers of seafood. And secondly, we wanted to change how the whole city looks at seafood. We wanted to remind people that at its roots, New York is, and has always been, a fishing town."

Sustainable Seafood Week runs through Sunday, with star chefs including Tom Colicchio, April Bloomfield, David Chang, Anita Lo and Bill Telepan participating in events, like a "Sustainable Seafood Shindig" and an interactive supper club, which will mix food and fun with education.

For Dixon, eating New York-caught seafood fits right in with the wider trend of eating local.

"There are so many locally-made products out there today, from cheeses to beer to yogurt to honey," he said. "The freshness of locally-caught fish, that's the same thing. It's like a tomato that's plucked off a backyard vine as opposed to one that's shipped halfway across the country: there's no contest."

Adam Conrad, marketing and social media manager at the Mermaid Inn on Amsterdam Avenue, agreed. Both restaurant locations-the original Mermaid Inn is located in the East Village-are supplied by the sustainable seafood companies Wild Edibles and Homarus, a lobster company that catches Maine lobsters each morning and delivers them to New York restaurants within 24 hours of the catch.

"These lobsters are incredibly fresh and our customers just love them," Conrad said.

During Sustainable Seafood Week, both locations of the Mermaid Inn will serve a different responsibly-sourced seafood dish each night.

"The highlight it definitely going to be our Homarus lobster roll," Conrad said.