by Catherine Kearny | October 30, 2014

Catherine KearnyThe fishing industry is a complex one. Words like local, sustainable, wild, farmed, freshwater and saltwater often are used alongside terms like overfishing, carbon footprint and mercury levels. Unless you’ve done a deep dive into understanding what these words mean and the issues surrounding them, it’s challenging to know if you are making a good decision when planning menus. Within the next 10 years, most of the fish that we will consume in the U.S. will come from fish farms and aqua culturing. This is necessary in order to keep up with supply demand.
As a chef, I feel that it is important to preserve our oceans and its inhabitants for generations to come. As such, it is important to me that I’m sourcing supplies from sustainable sources, such as farmed fish that comes from a healthy, well-managed farmed environment or wild-caught fish that is harvested in a manner that is least-harmful to the environment. For example, I currently use a farmed rainbow trout as a source of protein for one of our breakfast buffets and mahi mahi, a great sustainable fish, is my "go to" fish for plated events.

I’m passionate about this subject and proud of Hyatt’s commitment to using sustainably sourced seafood. In developing menus, one of the sources that I use for reliable information is the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program ( Their website makes it easy to understand the good, better and best options. It’s a great resource for me in my daily business needs and will certainly help you in understanding the topic without overwhelming you or your clients.

I'd love to hear your ideas for putting sustainable seafood on your banquet menus. Thanks for sharing!

Catherine Kearny is executive chef at the Hyatt Regency Jersey City (N.J.).