New Zealand, Wild-caught
Sea Perch are affectionately known as ‘Jock Stewart’ by New Zealand fishermen and are a fish that’s diminutive size is contrary to its big reputation for taste. They have large eyes and their coloring varies dramatically depending on which habitat they live in. Our Sea Perch come from the northeast coastline of New Zealand, which is comprised of a lot of kelp forests, so the fish are bright yellow/orange as a result.
They have unique behavioral characteristics, and often spend long periods of time standing at attention on their pectoral fins (hence the name Soldier Fish). Sea Perch are also one of the only fish that bear live young. They inhabit the entire NZ coastline, including the Fiords, Canterbury, Kaikoura and northwards and tend to dwell in depths of 30-300 feet.
Lee Fish’s Sea Perch are caught via long-line only, as a highly-valued bycatch of the snapper fishery. The TACC (Total Allowable Commercial Catch) for them is 2170 tons, which is set at a level to ensure sustainable biomass levels for the future.
There is a massive demand for these fish in Asia, due to their bright color and sushi-grade freshness, so most of New Zealand’s catch goes there. But we sometimes procure them for the US market too, where they end up mainly in sushi-restaurants. We also often get requests for them by top chefs for use in bouillabaisse, for which they are the perfect size and taste. Sea Perch flesh is delicate, white and sweet, and they are a treat to have grace one’s menu.