When you think of New Jersey, do you think of fluke, scallops, or monkfish? If you don’t, it’s time to start. Local 130 Seafood is making sustainable fish and seafood caught from New Jersey waters accessible to farm market shoppers and NJ restaurants alike. How do they make it happen? With their network of hardworking independent fishing cooperatives off the coast. Sadly we are currently importing over 90% of our seafood and turning our back on our local fishing community.
Founder Eric Morris’ rule for sustainable seafood is this: Eat domestic, eat sustainable. The United States has the strictest seafood laws in the world, so as long as we’re eating out of US waters, we are eating sustainably. The US sets quotas and regulations to ensure that our grandchildren’s grandkids will be able to enjoy fish for hundreds of years to come.
The last wild protein source in the world does not come easy to shop for, though. We have all been warned about the fish at the grocery store. It’s typically frozen and the source isn’t always transparent. And yet, as consumers, it’s what we’ve been stuck with forever.
That’s where Local 130 Seafood comes in, setting up stalls in farm markets all over the state. One of my favorites, the West Windsor Farm Market, is where I first came in contact with them. I took home some monkfish that was beyond fresh, caught just a few miles off the coast of NJ. But if you’re closer to the shore, you can visit them at their flagship location in Asbury Park, NJ.
Dogfish and monkfish can be caught inshore, just 7 miles off the coast. Fluke, squid, skate, and scallops are caught offshore, about 40 miles out. And lastly, tuna can be found 80 miles from the sandy beaches of NJ. Bet you didn’t know you could enjoy all of these freshly caught fish right in your own backyard… errr… beach? But if you don’t expand your horizons beyond cod, salmon, and shrimp, you will never get to enjoy these fresh New Jersey catches.
New Jersey dogfish is frequently shipped over to Europe for use in fish & chips. New Jersey monkfish is frequently exported to Korea, and our tuna is even sent overseas to Japan. So if it’s good enough for the rest of the world, it should be good enough for you! If you are interested in trying these varieties, start by going to a New Jersey or Philadelphia restaurant that sources from 130 Seafood, such as Jockey Hollow in Morristown and Heirloom Kitchen in Old Bridge, and try their preparations. Then once you find your favorites, you can experiment with making them at home.
If you make or eat seafood frequently, or even once a week, it’s worth switching to a sustainable source like Local 130 Seafood so that you can enjoy the fish at its peak freshness and flavor, but also to support our own local economy. And on that note, here are a few recipes to try with your new favorite fish varieties!