The Canadian lake fish, is a well-known sporting fish in Lake Erie. Well, technically, it could very well be an American-born-Canadian pickerel...but hey let's not get caught up in possible fish identity issues here... (Lake Erie is part Canadian, part American...get it?)
Today I spoke with Kristin, the co-founder and owner of Hooked Inc., a sustainable fish and seafood shop in Toronto. We're planning to order some pickerel from her for our upcoming Pickerel Tales event.
You can't really buy pickerel from your typical Loblaws, No Frills, Freshco, or Sobey's in Canada. They don't really sell atypical fish, there's just no consumer demand. I did a couple of searches online and came across a bunch of independent fish shops that sold pickerel...but none quite like how Hooked Inc does fish...
I browsed through their website and this caught my eye:
"THE KEY TO EVERYTHING WE DO AT HOOKED IS RESPECT:
Respect for our customers and our team.
Respect for our fishers, fish farmers, and their communities.
Respect for the fish we choose to buy and how we handle that fish.
Most importantly, respect for the preservation, protection and balance of our wild waters."
In an industry that massacres fish as commodity to be consumed, I was drawn to the way that Hooked Inc did business. It not only made sustainability a core part of it's business model, but is also pioneering a paradigm shift in the industry.
What does it mean to respect fish? I thought to myself.
Humans don't even respect each other. How can we learn to respect fish?
"All our fish are caught by fisherman we know on small boats that can regulate and control the catch. Any bycatch we catch in the short-set gillnets while fishing for Pickerel is sold here at the store."
Kristin explained to me during her busy day at the shop. Her eyes glancing around the store to make sure everything was okay.
I walked around the shop and came across an interesting looking fish I'd never seen before. It was quite rugged and had very big and cute eyes. Aww, adorable.
"That's a rock bass." One of the staff pointed out to me. "Well, it's one of the many types of rock bass out there."
Maybe next time we'll do Rockbass Tales after Pickerel Tales?