Dr. Boris Worm once predicted the collapse of the commercial fishing industry by 2048. The way he saw it, if current fishing practices were maintained, the global ecosystem would be depleted and the act of dining on a lightly grilled piece of halibut would be an anachronism our grandchildren would never understand.
However, thanks to a recent spawning of Community Supported Fisheries (CSFs), new standards are being set for the responsible consumption of fish in the hopes that tuna never gets mentioned in the same breath as the megalodon. Like Dr. Worm, Bianca Piccillo is a scientist who specializes in fish. But where Dr. Worm could only point to the problem, Bianca is determined to be part of the solution.
Sustainable Seafood Week in NYC
This spring, New York’s role in supporting responsible fishing will be on display at the city’s first ever, Sustainable Seafood Week from May 13-19, hosted by the Village Fishmonger. The week will showcase a collaboration of local fishermen and culinary experts to demonstrate the delicious diversity of the local fishing economy. The event features both an educational component with documentary screenings of movies like Sushi: the Global Catch, a benefit called Oysters, Clams, and Cocktails as well as culinary elements where prestigious restaurants such as ABC Kitchen, Arlington Club, Jimmy’s 43, and Parish Hall will feature sustainable seafood options on their menu throughout the week.
The Village Fishmonger offers nine locations around the city where you can pick up your own personal haul of oceanic treats with a clear conscience. For the full schedule of events for New York City’s First Annual Sustainable Seafood Week, as well as more information about Village Fishmonger pickup sites visit: villagefishmongernyc.com
After years spent in laboratories at the University of Maryland and Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, she took her research on the road, traveling to places like Belize and Papua New Guinea. Somewhere along the way, she determined to combine her scientific knowledge of fish with her more than fifteen years experience working in restaurants. The idea really gained momentum when she met Paris-trained chef Mark Usewicz working in a restaurant in Cambridge, MA. The two hit it off over their love of fresh, responsibly caught seafood. Both eventually moved to Park Slope in Brooklyn. Finding the neighborhood lacking in excellent fish, they started a CSF called Mermaid’s Garden.
The goal of Community Support Fisheries (CSFs) is to connect the fish eaters with the fishermen. By signing up for a membership on the Mermaid’s Garden website, you receive sustainable, “super fresh fish”—say that five times fast— traceable to the boat it was caught on, the fisherman who caught it, and the method used for the catch. Participation in a CSF also guarantees that the fishermen will be fairly compensated for their use of sustainable methods.
A four-week, half-share membership gets you around a pound of seafood a week for $66. A full-share provides an extra pound for $132. Nearly all of the seafood is locally caught—think haddock and flounder from Chatham, Montauk oysters, Nantucket Bay scallops, Woodbury clams, Acadia redfish—with the variety depending on the season. Year-round catches include black bass, haddock, tuna, summer flounder, and swordfish.
Mermaid’s Garden has yet to open a physical location, but they do offer pick-ups at seven locations around Brooklyn including: Williamsburg, Park Slope, and Clinton Hill. If you’re not quite ready to commit to a membership and just want to try some super fresh, sustainable fish cooked right, Bianca recommends Runner and Stone in Gowanus, Lunetta in Cobble Hill, and Paolo Santo in Park Slope. According to Bianca, all three are great little neighborhood places with delicious seasonal seafood offerings. They are also clients of Mermaid’s Garden so you can be at ease knowing you can have your fish and eat it too.
Join the CSF, cook up your fresh catch, then take your seafood feast to one of these seven scenic picnic spots around NYC and beyond.