Get Seafood Savvy With Nick Fash!

Each time we go to a supermarket or restaurant we are faced with choices about what kind of seafood to buy. Health concerns and a growing desire to eat locally and sustainably have made these decisions harder than ever. But now…you have Nick Fash on your side! Starting this month, Nick, our Aquarium’s education specialist and Key to the Sea manager, will help you make informed choices at the seafood counter and your favorite local restaurant with his monthly seafood blog. As an added bonus, you’ll score one of his delectable recipes at the end of each blog.

Salmon? What exactly does this mean when you read it on a menu? The truth is that it could be farmed, or wild, or any one of six different fishes from two different groups from opposite ends of the earth. Not so simple anymore, is it?

There are two basic types of salmon: Atlantic and Pacific. The Atlantic salmon is in the genus Salmo and originally came from the Atlantic Ocean (I say originally as they are now farmed all over the world) and Pacific salmon is in the genus Oncorhynchus, which come from the Pacific Ocean.

Salmon are born in fresh water, travel to the ocean in their adult life and return to fresh water to lay eggs. They are a keystone species, meaning they play an important role in the nutrient-starved ecosystems where they spawn. When the Pacific salmon die, the nutrients in their body that they obtained from their lives out in the ocean are released into the Arctic, beginning the explosion of life that occurs during the spring and summer months. Without these nutrients the Arctic ecosystem would be unable to function properly.

Salmon are extremely sensitive to environmental changes in the ocean as well as on land. Their populations are suffering from logging, mining, pollution and changing ocean conditions. And salmon farming is the most recent major threat. Not only are salmon farms destroying the ecosystem with all of the waste they produce, they are spreading diseases and parasites to the wild salmon as they migrate out to the ocean. So we are not only destroying one of nature’s finest food sources, replacing them with highly inferior farmed salmon, we are also risking the ruin of an entire ecosystem.

Southern California does not have open pen aquaculture (salmon farms located just offshore along the coast), but we do have other problems that impact salmon populations: Pollution, coastal development and habitat destruction adversely affect our own local fisheries. By helping to establish Marine Protected Areas throughout California, Heal the Bay is working to counteract the effects of environmental degradation on our fisheries by creating no-take zones for fish stocks to recover and thrive.

Knowing where your seafood comes from is important! Fortunately, several local seafood suppliers are committed to sourcing the sea’s bounty in a responsible and sustainable way.  Check out the selections offered at Santa Monica Seafood, Wild Local Seafood, and Community Seafood for your next seafood purchase. 

Wild Alaskan Salmon (serves 4)


  • 3lb Wild Alaskan Salmon filet, with skin on


  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon fresh orange juice
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon honey

How to

  1. Preheat broiler. Line rack of broiler with foil and lightly brush with oil.
  2. Pat filet dry and check for bones by running finger along the filet. If you find any bones you can pull them out with a pair of clean pliers.
  3. Season with salt and pepper. 
  4. Broil 4-5 inches from heat for 7 minutes, cover with foil and continue to cook in the broiler for another 7-10 minutes.
  5. While the salmon is broiling, whisk together all sauce ingredients.
  6. Season with pepper to taste.


Chef Nick