Eat Like a Fish

At least a hundred edible wild species thrive in the salty waters off New England’s shores. But how often are species like butterfish, scup, John Dory, dogfish, periwinkles, sea robin, skate, and razor clams offered for sale in the local marketplace? This is the question that 86 intrepid seafood lovers set out to answer when they embarked on a data quest called the Eat Like a Fish citizen science project.

This one-of-a-kind research project included weekly shopping expeditions, home cooking experiments, and adventurous dinner table taste tests. Journeying to seafood markets, supermarkets, farmers’ markets, and seaside fishing piers, participants hunted for 52 New England seafood species for 26 weeks (at a rate of four randomly assigned species per person per week), making note of where they found them and where they didn’t. When they found them, they took them home for dinner. Their first goal: to understand how well New England’s retail marketplace reflects the diversity of wild seafood in nearby ocean ecosystems. Their second goal: to draw on their lived experiences to help explain why these mismatches exist, and what can be done to correct them.

 The Eat Like a Fish citizen science project produced first-of-its-kind data to help seafood eaters, sellers, and promoters plot a course for achieving greater symmetry between the wild creatures in New England’s ocean ecosystem and those found in its markets. Diversifying seafood supply chains and balancing harvests with ecological rhythms are necessary steps to reduce disruption of marine food webs and adapt to climate change.

The Eat Like a Fish citizen science project is a component of a larger collaboration between Eating with the Ecosystem and the University of Rhode Island called “The other EBFM: Designing ecosystem-based fisheries marketing strategies to complement ecosystem-based fisheries management,” which was made possible by support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Saltonstall Kennedy Grant Program. 

Download the Executive Summary

Click on the image below to read or download the full report

(please note: downloadable file is quite large)


Eat Like a Fish Video

Watch the video above to learn more about the rational behind the Eat Like a Fish citizen science project.

This video was produced by Margot Wilsterman, graduate student at the University of Massachusetts School of Marine Science and Technology.