Photo: Plenty of fish in the sea

Meet one of Canada's real-life Fisherman, John Mauriks, and learn how to shop smart for sustainable seafood! (Credit: John Mauriks)

The saying goes, "There are plenty of fish in the sea." It's a lie.

Sure ladies, there are guys capable of changing the toilet paper roll and doing the dishes, but I'm talking about real fish.

I recently met a real-life fisherman, John Mauriks of CFV (commercial fishing vessel) Sun Dog. He shared some excellent tips about sustainable seafood, to make sure there are always plenty of fish in the sea!

What should you ask a fisherman when shopping from the dock?

John: Where did you catch this fish? Ocean-caught fish has the best appearance and higher nutritional benefits. If you see fresh fish on ice, ask when the fish was caught. The best quality is seven days or less on ice.

If the fish has been frozen at sea ask, "Did you freeze this fish when you caught it aboard this vessel?" For best quality and freshness, the fish should be flash frozen to a very low temperature shortly after being taken out of the water.

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Why should you buy fish off a boat?

John: Developing a relationship with a few fishermen who take pride in providing the best quality product for their customers can give consumers confidence that they are purchasing responsibly harvested sustainable seafood. It's all about knowing where your food comes from and how it got there.

How do you avoid bycatch?

John: The type of gear I use helps limit encounters with non-target species (aka bycatch) and allows a live release when necessary.

When we troll with hook and line for salmon, we haul the gear in frequently with short soak times and release non-targeted species. When we troll for tuna, hook and line is extremely selective, which means encounters with other marine species are rare. And we release anything that's not a tuna.

While pot fishing for spot prawns we release all undersize prawns and any other marine creatures as soon as the trap is hauled in.

What's the most common question you're asked by customers?

John: How do I cook it? I like to keep it simple. Don't bury the fantastic flavour of premium quality seafood. (Watch a Queen of Green sablefish cooking demo or check out these recipes for a healthy ocean.)

What should you look for when buying fish at a fish market?

John: Always use your senses as your primary motivators when deciding to purchase fish from a market. What's it look like? What's it feel like? What's it smell like? Price should be the last consideration.

John lives with his family in Ladysmith on Vancouver Island. He's been fishing for the past 37 years, beginning with the summers working on his father's fishing boat as a kid. Quality, not quantity, has always been his focus.

Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green

October 17, 2011

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