This story was originally published on Aug. 25, 2015. It was updated on January 3, 2018.
The Bay Area is surrounded by water and, at times, that can make it easy to find great local seafood. But often it's not so simple. After years of fishing with little regard for sustainable practices or the long-term health of the ocean, people have become more focused recently on eating fish that are both good for them and caught in a manner that is good for the ecosystem. The dominant standard in seafood sustainability has become the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch, which outlines industry standards and good practices. But there are a number of other definitions of sustainability, and different kinds of fishing techniques -- many of which can be difficult to understand the details of unless you grew up on a boat. In addition, it's common for people to look for local fish freshly caught, though in the winter (or depending on the weather) it can be harder to find local seafood. On top of that, most of us don't want to spend a fortune either.
Oh, and to make things even more complicated, there's growing concern about fish being mislabeled or sold under the wrong name. And FDA rules allow multiple species of fish to be sold under a single name, which can make everything even more confusing for the consumer. It's no wonder community-supported fisheries, like Real Good Fish, where you sign up for a subscription service and simply have fresh, local fish delivered to door are becoming more popular.
But if you'd like to pick your fish yourself, there's still more than a few options. While there used to be more fishermen selling their wares directly on the docks, now there are just a few places left where you can buy straight off the boat. If you're looking for that experience, try Pillar Point Harbor down in Half Moon Bay or Moss Landing, where Phil's Fish Market is the popular go-to. Here in the Bay Area, there are a number of fish markets, big and small. Try these eight, and let us know in the comments if we missed your favorite.