Where Does the Best Seafood Come From?

Maine coastline

Chances are, if you asked 20 people, ‘Where Does the Best Seafood Come From?’ in the U.S., there’s a good chance you may get 20 different answers. Its iconic seafood dishes bind many a city and region.


Where Does the Best Seafood Come From? Is It a Trick Question?

New Orleans is known for its fresh-shucked oysters and fried shrimp po’boys. In Seattle, the Pike Place Market is world-renowned for offering the freshest catch, from sweet and nutty flavored Dungeness crabs to whole Pacific salmon. Head to South Florida and savor blackened mahi-mahi, grilled snapper, or sweet stone crabs. No visit to the Chesapeake Bay is complete without the experience of its most famous offering, lump crab cakes. In Hawaii, diced ahi or octopus poke is a delicacy savored by visitors and locals alike. A sea foodie visit to San Francisco must include a sampling of the cioppino fish stew, a delicious potpourri of shellfish and whitefish. Fresh, thick, and creamy clam chowder is a must when in Boston. And then there is Maine.

Maine Has it All: From Lobster To Oysters

Just as none of the above dishes will disappoint the most seasoned seafaring foodie, no ‘Best Seafood’ list in the U.S. is complete without mentioning the old Pine Tree State. The quality and sustainability of Maine’s seafood and practices laid the foundation of a thriving fishery industry that has not only persisted for centuries but today is part and parcel of an exploding foodie scene. Beyond the quintessential Atlantic or Maine lobster is a rich variety of shellfish—scallops, clams, oysters, crabs, mussels—and an abundance of some of the most sought after finfish in the world, such as the Atlantic cod, haddock, hake, halibut, and the Atlantic salmon. In short, Maine has something for every seafood lover.

Local & Sustainable. Why It Matters.

Maine’s seafood scene is a network of locally sourced, responsible fisheries. From trawler to table, Maine’s seafood supply chain connects buyer and seller with high-quality seafood harvested directly from the Gulf of Maine. The key word here being supply chain, a broadly defined group of stakeholders—fishermen and women, diggers, seafood dealers, fish markets, and supermarkets—all with a dedicated, vested interest in responsibly managing fisheries, offering local and seasonal seafood harvested from the Gulf of Maine, easily traceable and transparent to consumers. Many institutions, restaurants, and consumers can purchase directly off the docks or simply visit a nearby food truck, lobster shack, clam shack, roadside stand, or fish truck vendor.

Promoting sustainability is in everyone’s interest. Species are managed for a reason. Overfishing will do more than simply decimate a species; but can invite other invasive species to enter a marine environment, resulting in widespread havoc to that entire marine ecosystem. Sustainable fishing means the catch is responsibly harvested in season. For instance, locally sourced fresh Maine scallops are in supply no earlier than December and available through March. Supporting locally sourced seafood is also supporting and sustaining fishing communities and economies. Maine’s seafood industry’s long-term viability depends largely on sustainable practices from the catch and haul to the fishmonger and market to the restaurant and kitchen table. Sustainability is a must, but the quality of its seafood is due in large part to Maine’s unique geographic location.

The Gulf of Maine’s cold waters has sustained fisheries for centuries—fisheries that have greatly defined Maine’s maritime heritage. Frigid, cold, clean waters produce the flavorful, high-quality, healthy seafood the state is recognized worldwide. Cold water impacts the quality and taste of the seafood, its shellfish, and finfish. Look to the state’s premier sea fare, the Maine lobster. What separates its taste from other lobster species around the world is the cold, clean water that empties into the Gulf of Maine from the Labrador Current. The latter keeps the former’s water cool at the perfect temperature, one that prevents the heavy taste of brine from permeating the meat of a Maine lobster and slows its growth rate. The growth rate helps ensure that the lobster’s texture is firm rather than mushy (as in warm water spiny lobsters), but it also gives the meat its sweet and succulent taste.

The Freshest, Highest Quality Seafood

From Alaska to Florida, from California to Massachusetts, every port city and town, if not every coastal region, has its own iconic seafood dishes and plates to enjoy. Maine’s iconic seafood dish is undoubtedly the Atlantic lobster, but the abundance of seafood and seafood quality make it among if not, the best-tasting around the globe. That quality is intricately linked to sustainability and the taste of Maine’s unique geographic location. Combine that with the freshness—in Maine, you can count on one hand how many people have handled your fish before it gets to your plate—and the foundation is laid for one of the most explosive foodie scenes in the country.