Underutilized Fish Species: Collaboration and Education Create Balance

Today, consumers across the globe are relying on seafood as a primary source of protein. This has sparked an educational movement to limit overfishing in an effort to promote seafood sustainability. The idea is to use less of an overused species like Salmon, and substitute it with a less familiar and potentially more abundant species, like Pollock.

On this Foodable.io talk, brought to you by Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, our Host Daniela Klimsova, and panelists Warner Lew, Taho Kakutani, Taichi Kitamura - explore how we define an underutilized species. They also discuss the need to not only market to chefs and restaurants but to the consumer, who has a significant role to play in a more sustainable future.

Taho Kakutani, a fishmonger at Pike Place Fish Market, leads by saying discussions about sustainability started to stand out about five years ago, which lead the fish market to prioritize seafood sustainability and advocation of the practice.

“There is a need for story...the seafood industry is particularly compelling,” said Kakutani. “From the sea to the table is this amazing journey that’s happening. So when we have these touch points like sustainability...there’s this opportunity to create this really interesting story that I think consumers are really looking for.”

Taichi Kitamura, executive chef and co-owner of Sushi Kappo Tamura, agrees that as chefs, they are responsible for educating consumers on underutilized species being included on their menus.

“I have to be very careful about what I say to my customers, and actually what I practice in terms of what to put on the menus,” said Kitamura. “You really have to be on top of this issue...it wasn’t the news then, but now it’s the news.”

Bristol Bay’s Fleet Manager, Warner Lew, got his start in the 1970s as a deckhand for local fisheries. He now is known as a crusader for getting Americans to eat canned, smoked Alaskan herring. With a nod to chef Taichi Kitamura’s herring sushi dish from a chef’s seminar, he speaks about how a species could become underutilized.

“The herring, it’s...underutilized in this country because few people know how to handle it… [or] how to enjoy it. That’s the trick [when] utilizing the fish, is how do you make it enjoyable and easy,” said Lew.

Mainstream seafood is often overfished and over marketed. Experts all agree that to create a significant change in reducing overfishing of certain species, industry leaders such as fishermen and chefs need to collaborate, educate and expose the underutilized species market to the masses.


Frozen Fresh Alaska Seafood is Making Waves with Top Quality and Sustainability Practices

Frozen Fresh Alaska Seafood is Making Waves with Top Quality and Sustainability Practices
  • Alaska frozen fresh seafood maximizes sustainability, availability, and flavor of fish and shellfish supply.

  • Chefs Dustin Trani and Drew Johnson "slack it out" teaching C-CAP students how to properly prepare frozen fresh Alaska seafood.

Ever heard of cryogenic or blast flash freezing?

This process helps to preserve seafood at the peak of freshness.

“Flash freezing is able to prevent damage or breakdown of proteins and lipids, two major things we need to keep in our seafood in order to preserve quality,” Michael Kohan tells a class full of culinary students.

Kohan is the technical director for Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) and flew down to Long Beach, Ca. to help educate young students participating in a culinary training organized by Careers through Culinary Arts Programs (C-CAP).

In these trainings, like the one featured in this episode of On Foodable Side Dish, mentors like Dustin Trani, Executive Chef for J. Trani’s Ristorante in San Pedro, Ca., and Chef Drew Johnson of Kincaid Grill located in Anchorage, Ala., come together to give back and share their wisdom with the future generation of culinary professionals.

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