‘Choose Local Fish’ Initiative Promotes Demand For Fish and Shellfish Sourced on Long Island

RIVERHEAD, NY – Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, NY (CCE Suffolk) is conducting a “Choose Local F.I.S.H.” initiative that aims to increase demand among Long Islanders for locally harvested, wild-caught and grown seafood and shellfish.

The “F.I.S.H” acronym stands for “fresh, indigenous, sustainable and healthy.”

The initiative, launched in 2016 and supported by the federal Department of Agriculture, works to increase interest, awareness and demand for locally harvested, wild-caught and grown seafood through media outlets, local seafood cooking demonstrations and tastings, “Seafood Literacy” presentations, and other public events.

Based in Riverhead, NY, CCE Suffolk is a non-profit community education agency established in 1917 that is affiliated with Cornell University. The “local fish” program is managed by the organization’s Cornell Marine Program. 

According to a published report earlier this year, Suffolk County’s 361 commercial fishing establishments landed more than 19 million pounds of fish valued at over $27 million in 2019. These revenues generated $47.4 million in economic activity, earnings of $15.4 million, and 656 jobs.

“When Long Islanders go out to eat and order fish, they frequently want to know if what they’re ordering is local and supporting the local fishing industry,” said Vanessa Lockel, executive director of CCE Suffolk. “The same things happens in fish markets: Which species are local?

“The ‘Choose Local F.I.S.H.’ campaign gives us the answers.” 

The public education campaign provides Long Islanders with the resources to know what fish is caught locally — and how local residents can support local fishermen and women. Its website, for example, includes a “Local Fish Locator” to help drive business to fish markets that sell locally sourced fish. 

In addition, CCE Suffolk offers recipes to help consumers prepare fresh, Long Island fish.  Also, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the site presents a comprehensive list of fish markets that make deliveries or offer curbside pick-up. The ‘Choose Local F.I.S.H.’ campaign also offers  merchandise as a way Long Islanders can show support for buying local. 

As part of the program, CCE Suffolk is conducting an online fish consumption survey.

“Purchasing locally caught seafood ensures that the product you are buying is sustainably harvested and in compliance with strict all fishing and food regulations,” said Kristin Gerbino, a fisheries specialist with CCE of Suffolk. “Choosing local seafood benefits local economies by creating and maintaining jobs for fishermen, processors, and wholesalers.”    

There is a wide variety of local fish and shellfish to choose from. Local species include striped bass, scup, squid, tilefish, sea and bay scallops, fluke, flounder, lobsters, monkfish, bluefish, black sea bass, blackfish, clams, oysters, and many others.

Locally caught seafood has a low carbon footprint when compared with imported seafood, which also results in a fresher and better-tasting product. Moreover, consuming seafood at least twice per week is known to contribute to a healthier diet.  

About Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County (CCE Suffolk) is a non-profit community education agency established in 1917. We are affiliated with Cornell University as part of the national land grant university system. CCE Suffolk is a subordinate governmental agency with an educational mission that operates under a form of organization and administration approved by Cornell University as agent for the State of New York. We are educators, researchers, specialists, and support personnel who are dedicated to making Suffolk County a desirable place to live and work. CCE’s professional team helps preserve our county’s vast heritage, protect our eco-systems, support families, and provide our youth opportunities for community service and research-based education in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). More information is available at http://ccesuffolk.org/.