I recently moved from a landlocked region of the U.S. to the East Coast (I can see the ocean from my porch!). It’s beautiful and so, so different out here. I had become pretty decent at looking at the sky and judging the impending weather. Here, I have no idea! Clouds and winds come from all directions! I feel like I’m on another planet and I love it.

Something else I’ve started thinking about, though… seafood. I can walk downtown and watch folks taking their little boats out to pick up their lobster traps. Not big “lobstah boats” but just family boats. They take their kids out, pick up their traps, count their catch and head home for dinner.

I never cared for fish when I was a kid. It smells like a beach in summer (you know what I mean!) and the texture… no thank you. I ate shrimp when I was young merely as a vehicle for eating cocktail sauce, really. MMMMmmm horseradish! And scallops, lobster, crab, etc.? All about the butter sauce, baby! So, yeah. I haven’t been interested in seafood for many, many years. But here, it’s so abundant and so local, I have to wonder if it’s not a better environmental choice in the winter than, say, tomatoes trucked all the way from Mexico.

So, I’ve been doing some research (of course!) and I’ve found some interesting information about fish, fishing, and sustainability.

First, I had no idea that NOAA was involved. For those of you outside the U.S., NOAA is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. I usually visit their website for weather information. They create these great graphs to show the temperature, humidity, wind direction and speed, precipitation, everything you need to know about your week’s weather. (Fabulous for checking the sailing conditions!) Well, it turns out they are also an authority on everything fish-related.

Their website is adorably titled fishwatch.gov and it is a virtual library of information on sustainable fishing and aquaculture. There were a lot of fascinating topics to choose from, but I’m just picking one for today.

You’ve probably already heard about those “dead zones” along our coasts where the run-off from industrial agriculture’s artificial nitrogen-heavy fertilizers creates areas of low oxygen content in the water, which in turn means few marine plants and animals can survive. Here’s another effect those areas have on the ecosystems and economy: the oyster business is getting hit hard.