Pierless Fish Tours Viking Village in Barnegat Light, NJ

Last week, we were lucky enough to take some of our customers and team here at Pierless Fish to tour one of our major suppliers. Located in southern New Jersey on Long Beach Island, Viking Village is an active dock with boats working with many different types of species and gear here on the East Coast. We were able to see the F/V Elizabeth packing out 100% dry sea scallops and tour the scalloper F/V Ms Manya with captain Pete Dolan. We were also able to speak with captain and owner Mike Johnson of the F/V Sea Farmer, a pelagic longliner preparing for a 6-day trip at sea fishing for primarily swordfish and tuna. Viking Village is also home to other pelagic longliners, many day-trip gillnet boats, and more scallopers, both multi-day and 1-day trip boats. A tour of the facility was provided by Ernie Panacek and other members of their staff, showing us details on grading tuna and scallops, as well as ice production and logistics. A fun, educational experience for everyone, we hope to visit again soon. See some photos of our day:

 

Touring the F/V Ms Manya

Captain Pete Dolan showing us the pilothouse of the F/V Ms Manya

Packing out scallops from the F/V Elizabeth

Grading scallops for size and quality

Speaking with owner/captain Mike Johnson of the F/V Sea Farmer

 

 

Alaskan Sockeye Salmon

 



The name ‘sockeye’ is thought to have come from the tribal word ‘sukkai’, for ‘red fish,’ which is the color these salmon change to when spawning. Sockeye salmon are also known as blueback (in regards to their coloring for most of their lives, pictured above) or summer sockeye (when they are most plentiful). As a species of fish that is anadromous, sockeye salmon are born in freshwater rivers and lakes, they then migrate to saltwater in the open ocean. At the end of their life, they migrate back to the freshwater where they were born, to spawn.

As one of Alaska’s most important industries, policies for all species of salmon are extensively managed by field-based, biological research and analysis. Since the 1970’s, fishery management practices have been put in place to make harvesting all stocks of salmon sustainable, supporting tens of thousands of jobs for the state as well as significant economic activity.

One of the sources of our sockeye salmon is from the fishery located in Yakutat, Alaska. This small town is located in the south- eastern, coastal area of the state, facing the Gulf of Alaska. In this small town, with a population of about 700 people, the majority of the inhabitants are involved in the commercial salmon fishery, mainly for sockeye. Fishermen use gillnet and seines primarily, though a small hydraulic longline can also be used, a version of hook and line, sometimes referred to as a “hook boat.” The largest sockeye salmon fishery, Bristol Bay, is located northwest of Yukatat. Located farther south along the coast is Sitka, Alaska, another source for our salmon.

Of all the Pacific salmon, sockeye is second in fat content only to the chinook, or king salmon, and has beautiful, bright orange-red meat. It is a smaller fish compared to the chinook, many times coming in less than ten pounds, and the meat is firm, rich and flavorful.


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Wahoo from New Jersey

As one of the fastest fish in the ocean, wahoo are long, beautifully striped fish, dark steel blue along their back, fading to a silvery-blue belly with vertical iridescent lines along their torso. Their large mouths are filled with compact, finely serrated triangular teeth, a characteristic that compliments their impressive speed when hunting. They mainly feed on fish such as herring, frigate mackerel, and butterfish, but also squid. Much of the commercial catch of wahoo comes from the Pacific, mainly Hawaii, though much of our supply is caught right here off the east coast, many times the coast of New Jersey. Wahoo is generally a bycatch of longlining boats, out to catch swordfish and tuna. They usually swim alone or in small, loose packs of a few fish, but rarely in large schools.

Wahoo populations have the ability to mature into spawning adults and reproduce rapidly (about 1 year), much like mahi-mahi populations. Recreational and commercial catches involve proper permitting and harvest limits, though there are no formal stock assessments for the species because their populations are believed to be so high. Wahoo continues to thrive within these management boundaries, a well-balanced relationship between fish and fishermen.

Pictured here is Frederico on our production team, unloading a recent fresh delivery of wahoo from southern New Jersey.

A close relative of king mackerel, the meat of wahoo is lighter in color and milder in flavor, with a large, circular flake. Wahoo is also known by its Hawaiian name "ono," meaning good to eat, or delicious. It cooks up white and is great baked or grilled, also very popularly used in fish tacos.

Wreckfish from South Carolina

The Atlantic wreckfish resembles a grouper or bass, and inhabits deep waters of the Eastern Seaboard’s continental shelf, as well as other waters internationally. Though they can be found from the Grand Banks to Argentina, most commercial landings are from the Charleston Bump, located about 90 miles southeast of Charleston, South Carolina. The Charlston bump is a series of overhangs, cliffs, dropoffs and caves that allow wreckfish to hide while hunting for fish exploring the dark, cool waters just outside the Gulf Stream. A cloudy, reflective layer behind their eyes allows them to be super-sensitive to light, able to ambush prey who can’t see as well in the depths of dark water (up to 3,300 feet).

A 30lb wreckfish and fillet.

The U.S. wreckfish fishery is possibly the most sustainable fishery in the world. There are less than 10 boats with commercial wreckfish licenses, and each boat is issued a specific quota for the entire year. Fisherman are limited to using bandit rigs, which are large hydraulic reels that send a vertical cable line and multiple baited circle hooks nearly 1,500 feet to the bottom. This creates a very selective method of fishing that results in nearly zero environmental impact or bycatch. Wreckfish also have no known predators.

Most wreckfish are between 20 and 60 pounds, but can reach weights of well over 200 pounds. This average large size helps create thick, meaty fillets and impressive portions. The meat of wreckfish is much like grouper -- firm, white, and mild with large flakes. The cold, deep water they live in also imparts a clean, slightly sweet taste to the fillet.

 

Local Brook Trout from Rural Pennsylvania

Looking for an affordable, local option for seafood from a small-scale farm? You've found it.


By being raised in a small and naturally-powered setting, the carbon footprint to produce each fish is notably lower than others in the aquaculture industry. The Preserve has positioned itself to not only offer some of the best farmed rainbow trout available on the market today, but is also a substantial part of a local economy that we’re proud to support, being only a few hours drive from New York City.
Our brook trout come from the Limestone Springs Preserve -- a local, high-quality trout farm in Lebenon County Pennsylvania. The trout are raised in long concrete troughs, or “runs,” with pristine spring water that flows through them from the Preserve’s adjacent 19th century limestone quarry. This system is gravity-powered, with minimal electricity required to keep the freshwater flowing for the growing trout. Used water flows out of the runs and into a manmade settling basin where waste and sediment settle. The water is then cleaned and filtered slowly and carefully, then continuing down the Tulpehocken Creek. This flow-through system allows for a natural, clean habitat, and is very different than the general water recycling system primarily used in fish farming. The trout at Limestone Springs Preserve are fed a high-grade, sustainable feed, and mature for 20 months, or until they reach about 12 inches in length. The runs are then thoroughly cleaned and power-washed, and then the process begins again with small trout that have been hatched and raised from fry on the same property.

In addition to the raceways where the trout are raised, the Limestone Springs Preserve also offers a pay-to-fish pond, where at any time of year, anyone can catch as many rainbow trout as they want without needing to have a Pennsylvania fishing license. Whatever you catch you must keep -- fish that are caught are purchased by the pound. This unique opportunity gives anyone the chance to easily catch and taste these delicious fish.

Want to try some at home? Available by the fillet, whole, or butterfly-cut, any of these are easily made into a flavorful, healthy meal. Trout pair well with garlic or citrus, and are very affordable. Be sure to check out this product on our store.

East Coast Swordfish

While Atlantic swordfish can be caught domestically as far as off the coast of Texas in the Gulf of Mexico, we source most of our swordfish from the mid-Atlantic here on the East Coast. In the late 1990’s, fishery management policies were put in place to rebuild depleted swordfish populations. For a number of years now, the local east coast population has been reliably increasing and in 2013, was declared to be over target levels by 14%. Atlantic swordfish have been an incredible fishery management success story over the last 20 years.

As their name implies, swordfish have a long, flattened bill that looks like a sword, which is used mainly to stun and injure prey in the water while swimming at speeds of up to 50mph. Commercial fishermen set a long line of hooks (about 40 miles) overnight with glowsticks attached, which attract small fish and squid, and in turn, swordfish. The commercial longline fishery has minimal environmental impact, since the line rests only in the water column. It also uses advanced technology like sonar and GPS, as well as specifically developed gear to avoid contact with animals like turtles and dolphins.

Swordfish is just one of those fish that really has no equal. With a dense, steak-like texture that is moist and hearty with a mild savory flavor and a high fat content, it’s nearly impossible to find someone who wouldn’t enjoy eating it. Its dense, steak-like texture is fatty and delicious, perfect for the grill. Try some out this weekend! It's available by the pound here on our website, shipped overnight to you fresh, never frozen.

Summer Flounder

The summer flounder -- commonly known as fluke -- is a prized recreational and commercial catch, popular because of its delicate, light flavor and lean, white, firm fillets. Despite low populations for decades and help managing the stock throughout the 1980’s, it wasn’t until the late 1990’s that fluke started to respond to fishery management action. Finally finding a balance for recreational and commercial fishermen, the summer flounder population started coming back and was declared rebuilt to target levels in 2010. The fishing quota for this species is strategically divided between commercial and recreational anglers, being one of the most popular recreational fisheries on the Atlantic coast.

Fluke are able to change their coloring to match their surroundings when burrowing in the sandy or muddy ocean floor. They are a left-eyed flatfish, meaning that their right eye migrates to the left side of their head as they mature, with both of their eyes ending up on the same side.

Migratory patterns for fluke throughout the Atlantic are determined by water temperature. In the winter, they are offshore along the continental shelf, while in the warmer summer months, they come inshore along the coast in shallow waters and estuaries. These easily foreseeable migratory patterns are one of the reasons that the fluke population was able to be rebuilt. Because of the knowledge we have of the species and where they are at certain times, it is easy to predict where they are, allowing them to spawn and grow into juveniles without fishing pressure, as well as determine catch seasons for them and for specific areas. Availability for this item depends on state season openings and closures, though at this time of year our summer flounder supply is coming from Narraganset, RI. Fried, broiled, sautéed, or even eaten raw, this fish is perfect for a variety of culinary applications.

April 08, 2015 by Sonja Panacek