The Goods from Ocean Wise
Vancouver, BC | Each month the Ocean Wise Seafood Program picks one item and explains what makes it a smart choice for seafood-lovers. In this edition, Ocean Wise speaks with Wes Erikson, a Commercial Fisherman and Trained Chef, about what makes wild Pacific halibut an excellent and sustainable seafood option.
How long have you been fishing for wild Pacific halibut? I have been commercial fishing with my family since the age of five and full time in the summers since I was eight years old.
Where do you fish for wild Pacific halibut? During most of my fishing career I have fished between the northern tip of Vancouver Island, BC, and the Canadian/Alaskan border.
What makes wild Pacific halibut sustainable? The wild Pacific halibut fishery is rigorously monitored and managed to ensure sustainability. For example, the fishery has 100% monitoring both at-sea and at the dock, conducted by a government approved third party service provider. These requirements combined with other management measures ensure that all catches, including any fish released at sea, are kept within the scientifically-determined allowable limits. As a result, the total amount of wild Pacific halibut harvested has not exceeded the annual total allowable catch since these measures were introduced.
What is your favourite way to prepare wild Pacific halibut? Pan fried wild Pacific halibut cheeks are my favourite! When cheeks aren’t available, the next best is wild Pacific halibut fillets seasoned with salt and pepper, dredged in corn flour, pan fried in gee (clarified butter) and served with a fresh basil sauce. You’ll find my recipe for this dish and others at WildPacificHalibut.com.
What makes wild Pacific halibut such a great fish to cook with? Wild Pacific halibut is such a popular fish because of its mild, sweet taste and firm, flakey texture. It is a very versatile fish that lends itself well to many cooking methods and flavour combinations.
As a fisherman and ocean-lover, why is it important to you to fish sustainably? I am a fourth generation commercial fisherman and my son is a fisherman now too, so it’s in our interest to have a sustainable fishery that will continue to provide a secure food source, as well as viable livelihoods long into the future. We are extremely grateful that the ocean has provided a living for my family for five generations, and we would like for that to continue for many more generations.
Is there anything else you want foodies to know about wild Pacific halibut? The wild Pacific halibut fishing families are proud to provide halibut as a healthy food source and use a lot of care when harvesting each fish one at a time to maintain its high quality. With the wild Pacific halibut season typically running between March and December, awesome fresh fish is available for most of the year, and frozen/previously frozen product is available year-round. And…we love halibut!
WildPacificHalibut.com is a great source for recipes, tips for buying, storing and preparing wild Pacific halibut, and information about the fishery.