UPDATED 12-15-07

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Abalone: a mollusk, related to a sea snail, similar in flavor to a clam. It may be cooked by various methods and is best suited to very long or very short cooking times. Also called "awabi" in Japanese cuisine and "loco" in South American cuisine.

Aberdeen Cut: A rhombus-shaped cut from a block of frozen fish; sides may be squared off or cut with a tapered edge. Usually breaded/battered. Also called diamond cut, French cut.

Additives: chemicals used in processing seafood to help retain moisture and improve appearance. They must be approved by the FDA and listed on product labels.

American Cut: Fish portions or fillets with tapering or beveled edges, rather than square-cut sides. Also called Dover cut.

Anadromous: fish that are born in fresh water, descend into the sea to grow to maturity, and then return to spawn in freshwater rivers and streams. Examples include Pacific and Atlantic salmon, American shad and striped bass.

Anchoveta: an anchovy, Cetengraulis mysticetus, found along the Pacific coast from British Columbia to Lower California, used for bait.

Aquaculture: rearing aquatic plants and animals in either fresh or salt (sea) water. "Mariculture" means, more specifically, using seawater. A hatchery is also a form of aquaculture, but the fish are released before harvest size is reached. The National Aquaculture Act of 1980 defines aquaculture as "the propagation and rearing of aquatic species in controlled or selected environments, including ocean ranching." The Act divides responsibility for most aquaculture research, regulatory and related activities among the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Interior. Private aquaculture has grown rapidly and diversified in recent years.

Artisanal Fishing: fishing for subsistence needs by coastal or island ethnic and indigenous groups using traditional methods. Also known as subsistence or aboriginal fishing.


Basket Shrimp: small undeveined, breaded shrimp.

Batter: a mixture of dry ingredients (such as flours or starches) and water in a ratio suitable for coating seafood.

Batter-Dipped: sometimes referred to as batter-fried. Products that have been coated in batter and then immersed in hot oil to secure the batter. These products are then usually frozen.

Battered: Product covered in liquid mixture, usually egg and flour. This is usually partly cooked (pre-cooked) to set the batter in place before freezing.

Belly Burn: deteriorated meat in the belly cavity of a fish due to enzyme action.

Benthic: refers to fish and other marine animals that live on or in the water bottom.

Berried: female lobsters or crabs with eggs attached to the appendages of the underside of the abdomen. By law, they must be returned to sea.

Billfish: fish such as marlins, sailfish, spearfish and swordfish that are highly migratory and have snouts extended into a bill or "spear."

Biodiversity: defined in the Biodiversity Convention as "the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems."

Biological Reference Points: fishing mortality rates that may provide acceptable protection against over fishing a stock. They are usually calculated from equilibrium yield-per-recruit curves, spawning stock biomass-per-recruit curves and stock recruitment data. Examples are F0.1 or Fmax.

Biomass: the size of a stock, usually measured by weight in pounds or metric tons, at a given time. For example, spawning biomass is the combined weight of mature animals.

Biotoxins: natural toxins produced by organisms, often for use as a defense.

Bisulfite (sodium bisulfite): used to treat shrimp to prevent melanosis, or black spot.

Bites/Bits: Small pieces of fish breaded or coated with batter, weighing less than 1 oz. each. Shape may be round, square, or irregular. May be cut from regular blocks or blocks of minced fish. Also called cubes, nuggets, petites, and tidbits. Generally sold by count, 25-35 per lb.

Bivalve: a mollusk with two shells hinged together, such as the oyster, clam, or mussel.

Black Spot: a darkening between a shrimp shell and the tail muscle; it develops as the product deteriorates. It is more properly known as melanosis.

Blast Freezing: freezing by circulating cold air over seafood in trays or racks. Continuous operations use rotating belts or spiral screens.

Bleeding: cutting an artery behind the gills of a fish to improve quality and shelf life.

Block: a frozen, compressed slab of fish fillets, usually without skin and bone, used as raw material for value-added products.

Blocklisting: a procedure of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that requires imported products to be detained and approved by the FDA before distribution in the United States.

Blood Line: a line of blood located along the backbone of the fish that often is removed prior to the fish being frozen or further processed.

Boned: all primary bones have been removed, although some secondary bones may remain.

Boned/Boneless: Term used by packer to indicate that product has been processed to remove backbone and rib bones. Term used by packer to indicate that product has been processed to remove backbone and rib bones.

Boneless Fillet: Fillets from which the pinbones have been removed.

Boston Cut: A fillet cut that removes most of the nape and leaves a small portion of the pinbones, which break down when cooked and become indistinguishable from the rest of the fillet.

Bottomfish (see also Groundfish): those fish species that reside on the ocean floor, including sablefish, pollock, cod, and many flatfish. Typically harvested by trawls, pots and longline.

Bottom Trawls: nets designed to work near the bottom.

Botulism: a toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum.

Breaded: Product covered in liquid dip, bread crumbs and seasonings. The breading forms a jacket within which the product cooks gently. Breading helps to retain moisture in the product during cooking, and also adds contrasting texture and flavor to the product.

Breading: flour, breadcrumbs, cracked meal or a blend of flour and other ingredients used to coat seafood.

Brine Freezing: Freezing seafood by soaking in liquid brine. King crab or snow crab is often brine-frozen.

Brining: the process of immersing a fish in a solution of food-grade salt and water for a period of time to allow it to absorb salt. It often referred to as "pickled" or "wet salted."

Bubble Pack: a type of packaging in which whole-cooked lobster is frozen in brine and packed in a sealed plastic "bubble" with water. Also called "popsicle" pack.

Bushel: Unit of measure equal to 8 gallons or 32-quart capacity. Often used to measure quantity of clams, oysters or crabs.

Butterflied: a method of cutting a fish fillet or shrimp. A butterfly fillet is cut along both sides of the fish with the two pieces remaining joined by a piece of skin. Butterfly shrimp is peeled and deveined, with the shell left on the last tail segment.

Bycatch: has a variety of meanings, some of which are overlapping or contradictory. The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act defines it as "fish which are harvested in a fishery, but which are not sold or kept for personal use, and includes economic discards and regulatory discards...[but not] fish released alive under a recreational catch and release fishery management program."

Bycatch Reduction Device: a modification to fishing gear to reduce the catch or mortality of bycatch species during fishing operations.



C&F: Shipping term for cost and freight. When quoted, a C&F price means price delivered.

Cage Culture: the rearing of fish or other organisms in cages suspended or floating in a suitable area of a water body for commercial purposes.

Calamari: the Italian word for squid.

Cakes (fritters, dumplings): a mixture of flour or meal, seafood and other ingredients such as vegetables and seasonings in a batter that is sautéed, fried or baked.

Candling: a process by which fillets are placed on a backlit, translucent table and inspected for the presence of parasites.

Carapace: the shield covering the upper surface of part of the body of various crustacean species (for example, the broad shield forming the upper body cover of crabs and of the front portion of prawns and lobsters).

Carrying Capacity: the maximum number of organisms that a certain habitat can sustain over the long term.

Catch Per Unit Of Effort (CPUE): the catch of fish, in numbers or in weight, taken by a defined unit of fishing effort. Also called catch per effort, fishing success, or availability. It is often used as a measure of fish abundance.

Catadromous: fish that spend most of their life in fresh water and migrate to saltwater to spawn. The American eel is an example.

Caviar: the eggs of sturgeon that have been salted and cured. It is graded by the size and color of the roe and the species of the sturgeon. Beluga caviar is dark gray in color and the largest eggs. Ossetra caviar is light- to medium-brown with smaller grains than beluga. Sevruga caviar are the smallest grains, the firmest in texture and are also gray in color. Pressed caviar is made of softer, lower quality eggs and has a stronger, fishier flavor. The term malossol is used to describe the amount of salt used in the initial curing process. The roe from other fish such as salmon, lumpfish, and whitefish are not caviar, regardless of their label.

Caviar: Sturgeon eggs which have been preserved in salt. Caviar comes in many grades and types and must be transported and held fresh at temperatures between 25F and 30F. (See Roe)

Cellopack: packaging whereby seafood, normally fillets, are wrapped in cellophane or polyethylene film and typically packed in 5- or 10-pound boxes. Also called cellowrap.

Cello Wraps: Fillets wrapped together in cellophane or polyethylene film. Each wrap is usually labeled with the type of fish, the packer and the brand. Six polywraps per 5-lb. box is standard.

Cephalopods: literally, 'head-foot'. Refers to animals like squid and octopus, in which the tentacles converge at the head.

Cetaceans: marine mammals of the order Cetacea, including whales, dolphins, and porpoises.

Chinook Salmon (King Salmon): the largest salmon species, averaging more than 25 pounds. They are usually caught by gillnet and troll.

Chum Salmon (Dog Salmon): called dog salmon in part because of the hooked snout and protruding dog-like teeth that become prominent when spawning.

Chunks: Cross-sections of large dressed fish, having a cross-section of backbone as the only bone. They are similar to a beef or pork roast and are ready for cooking.

Cholesterol (dietary): a fat-like substance classified as a lipid. It is vital to life and is found in all cell membranes. Dietary cholesterol is found only in animal foods. Abundant in organ meats and egg yolks, cholesterol is also contained in meats, poultry and some seafood.

Ciguatera: an illness caused by eating certain fish containing ciguatoxin caught in tropical and island waters. The toxin is believed to originate in microscopic algae that the fish eat. The fish most commonly implicated are amberjack, snapper, grouper, mahi-mahi, barracuda and reef fish of the Carrangidae (jack) family.

Ciguatera: A neurotoxin found in certain types of reef fish. The toxin accumulates in the flesh as a result of eating some forms of algae, or preying on fish that eat the algae.

Cleaned Shrimp: shrimp that have been peeled and washed, a process that removes some or all of the vein, but is not thorough enough to warrant the P&D label.

Clipper: denotes high-quality swordfish or mahi-mahi, usually caught and frozen at sea.

Cluster: a group of legs and a claw from one side of a crab with the connecting shoulder area still attached. Also known as a "section."

Clam: a variety of bivalve, or two-shelled mollusk. The two main types of clams are soft shell and hard shell. Local names for clams include littleneck, razor, quahog, surf and margaritas, as well as many more.

Cod: fish from the family Gadidae, but this term especially refers to Atlantic cod, Gadus callarius.

Codend: the closed end of a trawl net where the fish are collected.

Coho Salmon (Silver Salmon): a salmon species that is primarily caught with trolls.

Cohort: those individuals of a stock born in the same spawning season.

Cohort Analysis: a scientific technique for estimating the magnitude of fishing mortality and the number of fish at each age in a stock.

Cold Smoked: Fish smoked at low temperatures (around 80 degrees F) for 18 hours to several days, producing a silky, moist, delicately flavored product with no signs of heat coagulation of the protein

Commercial Fishing: defined in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act as "fishing in which the fish harvested, either in whole or in part, are intended to enter commerce through sale, barter or trade."

Cold-Smoked: fish or other seafood smoked at low temperatures (around 80º F) for 18 hours to several days, producing a moist, delicately flavored product.

Collar: the bones of a fish just behind its gills. The collar is discarded when a fish is steaked or filleted. Most headless fish are sold with the collar on because it helps preserve the fish’s shape.

COOL: Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, more commonly known as the 2002 Farm Bill. One of its many initiatives requires country of origin labeling for beef, lamb, pork, fish, perishable agricultural commodities and peanuts. 

Council: refers to the Regional Fishery Management Councils, established by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to prepare Fishery Management Plans and amendments for fisheries in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone.

Counts: the number of a seafood product (e.g. shrimp or scallops) per pound. The larger the count, the smaller the individual pieces.

Crayfish: Freshwater crustaceans of the genera Astacus and Cambarus. They are also known as crawdads and crawfish.

Croquettes: Patties containing a mixture of breading or breadcrumbs or other binder; usually at least 35% seafood, such as combination of fish and crabmeat. May have all one kind of seafood, such as shrimp or crabmeat, or a combination. Product forms include breaded; pre-cooked or browned; I.Q.F., 2 oz. each, dry-pack.

Cross-Contamination: occurs when cooked seafood comes into direct or indirect contact with raw seafood, other raw food or contaminated surfaces and utensils.

Crusher: the larger of the two claws on an American lobster.

Crustacean: shellfish of the class Crustacea, characterized by joined appendages and hard outer shells. This group includes shrimp, crayfish, lobster, and crabs.

Cryogenic Freezing: an accelerated form of blast freezing in which products are exposed to sprays of liquid nitrogen or CO2 at minus 150º F or colder. Used for IQF products.

Cull: an American lobster with one or no claws. Normally sold at lower price than lobsters with claws intact.

Curing: using salt or smoke to draw moisture from the flesh of fish or other meats to retard the growth of bacteria.

Curing: Using salt or sugar to draw moisture from the flesh of fish or other meats to make it unattractive to the growth of spoilage bacteria. Curing was widely used as a preservation method before the advent of modern refrigeration techniques. Today, curing is used to give a pleasing flavor to fish and refrigeration is recommended to preserve this product from spoilage.

Custom Cut: Irregularly shaped triangle cut from a block of frozen fish. Usually breaded/battered.

Cuttlefish: cephalopods related to squid.



Deep-Skinned: fish that has had the fat layer underneath the skin removed. This creates milder flavor and improved shelf life.

Demersal: fish that live near the bottom of an ocean, river or lake, also known as groundfish. Also refers to eggs that are denser than water and sink to the bottom after spawning. Examples are flounder and croaker.

Depletion: reducing the abundance of a fish stock through fishing.

Depuration: a process used to clean and treat molluscan shellfish harvested from specially regulated areas.

Devein: to remove the vein (digestive tract) from the tail section of a shrimp, lobster or other crustacean.

Dip: chemical solutions or additives used to preserve shelf life and prevent moisture loss.

Discarding: disposing of catch, dead or alive, during or after fishing operations.

Dorsal: the top of a fish. Also refers to the top fin on the fish.

Double Fillets: cut from both sides of the fish, with the two remaining pieces joined at the back. Also called "butterfly fillet."

Double-Frozen: fish or shellfish that is frozen at sea, thawed for reprocessing in a plant onshore, and then frozen a second time. Also called "twice-frozen" or "refrozen."

Dragger: A term interchangeable with a fishing trawler boat. Draggers tow a large net.

Drawn: fish that are gutted, with head and fins intact.

Drawn Fish: Entrails, gills and scales removed. Since entrails cause rapid spoilage, drawn fish have a longer storage life.

Dredges: fishing gear that is dragged along sand or mud sea bottoms, usually to collect mollusks. The vessel drops a steel frame dredge to the sea floor and it is dragged across the seabed. The catch is held in a sort of bag or sieve which allows the water, sand or mud to run out.

Dressed: fish that have been gutted and scaled with gills removed. Usually the fins are removed as well.

Dressed Fish: Completely cleaned but with head on (head removed is usually called pan-dressed). Both forms are ready for stuffing and are generally cooked in one piece.

Dried: seafood that has been dehydrated by natural (air, sun) or mechanical means.

Driftnets: type of floating gillnet kept on the surface, or just below it, by numerous floats and held vertical by a weighted foot rope. These nets drift freely with the currently, either separately or, more usually, with the boat to which they are attached. These nets caused considerable controversy, particularly because of concerns over the level of bycatch, and the UN General Assembly has called for a worldwide ban on the use of driftnets longer than 2.5 km on the high seas.

Drip Loss: occurs as a seafood product gives up moisture.

Dry Pack: a package of chopped clams containing no clam juice.

Dry Salting: used in curing seafood, allowing it to acquire a denser, firmer texture.

Dungeness Crab: (Cancer magister): a species found on the U.S. West Coast that is distinguished from other commercially caught crabs by its disproportionately small legs.

DWPE: (Detention Without Physical Examination- formerly known as Automatic Detention) Occasionally, FDA identifies products from an entire country or geographic region for DWPE when the violative conditions appear to be geographically widespread. Detention recommendations of this breadth are rare and are initiated only after other avenues for resolving the problem have been exhausted.


Ecology: a branch of science concerned with the interrelationship of organisms and their environments; the totality or pattern of relations between organisms and their environment.

Ecosystem: a complex of plant, animal and microorganisms, which, together with the non-living components, interact to maintain a functional unit.

Endangered Species: those species in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. They are protected under federal and international law and cannot be bought or sold in commercial trade.

Endangered Species Act (ESA): a statute enacted in 1973 to conserve species and ecosystems. Species facing possible extinction are listed as "threatened" or "endangered," or as "candidate" species. When a listing is made, recovery and conservation plans are prepared to ensure the protection of the species and its habitat.

Equilibrium Yield: the yield in weight taken from a fish stock when it is in equilibrium with fishing of a given intensity, and (apart from effects of environmental variation) its biomass is not changing from one year to the next. See also sustainable yield.

Essential Fish Habitat: defined by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act as "those waters and substrate necessary to fish for spawning, breeding, feeding or growth to maturity."

Estuarine Dependent: refers to the many species of fish, crustaceans and mollusk that live in estuarine habitats for all or part of their lives. Examples include oysters, blue crabs, shrimp and red drum.

Estuary: a semi-enclosed body of water with an open connection to the sea. Typically, there is a mixing of sea and fresh water, and the influx of nutrients from both sources results in high productivity.

Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ): an ocean area that extends from the seaward boundaries of the coastal states (3 nautical miles, in most cases) to 200 miles off the coast of the United States. Within this area, the United States claims and exercises sovereign rights and exclusive fishery management authority over all fish and all Continental Shelf fishery resources.

Ex-Vessel Price: the price paid to the fishermen for their fish.

Eviscerated: gutted.



F: an abbreviation used by fishery scientists for the rate of fishing mortality.

FALCPA: Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protectioon Act of 2004.

FDA Consulting Services: The only company to contact when you need FAST, accurate and affordable HACCP, Food Safety and Total Quality Management Services.

Fmax : the rate of fishing mortality for a given exploitation pattern rate of growth and natural mortality, that results in the maximum level of yield-per-recruit. This is the point that defines growth over fishing.

F0.1 : the fishing mortality rate at which the increase in yield-per-recruit in weight for an increase in a unit-of-effort is only 10 percent of the yield-per-recruit produced by the first unit of effort on the unexploited stock (i.e., the slope of the yield-per-recruit curve for the F0.1 rate is only one-tenth the slope of the curve at its origin).

Fats (dietary fats): known chemically as triglycerides, fats are an essential nutrient in a healthy diet. Fats supply essential fatty acids, such as linoleic acid, which is especially important to childhood growth. Fat helps maintain healthy skin and regulate cholesterol metabolism. Dietary fat is needed to carry fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and to aid in their absorption from the intestine.

Fecundity: the total number of eggs produced by a female fish.

Filet: French spelling for fillet (see Fillet)

Fillet: a portion of flesh taken from either side of a fish, cut parallel to the central bones. The main bones, fins and belly flaps are usually removed from finished fillets.

Fillet: A slice of fish flesh of irregular size and shape which is removed from the carcass by a cut made parallel to the backbone, usually 2 to 12 oz. Some fillets, especially of fresh fish and those used to make up the larger frozen blocks, may be larger than 12 oz. However, for most institutional foodservice and home uses, frozen fish fillets over 12 oz. are not generally available. Special cut fillets are taken from solid large blocks; these include a "natural" cut fillet, wedge, and rhombus or tail shape. Fillets may be skinless or have skin on; pinbones may or may not be removed.

Fingers: Irregular-shaped pieces of fish, similar to a long, thin fillet, breaded or battered, raw or pre-cooked. Weight per piece varies, usually available portioned (1 to 3 oz.), or in bulk.

Finnan Haddie: a headed and gutted haddock, split and lightly salted in brine, then cold smoked. Traditionally cooked in butter or cream, the dish originated in Findon, Scotland, where it was known as Findon haddock, which evolved to finnan haddie.

Finnan Haddie: A medium-sized haddock split down the back with backbone left on, then brined and hot smoked.

Fish Steak: a thick, cross-section cut of a large fish that includes a piece of the backbone.

Fish Sticks: rectangles of fish cut from a frozen block and breaded or battered.

Fish Sticks: Rectangles of fish cut from a frozen block, usually 1 by 3 inches, weighing 1 to 2 oz. each, breaded/battered. Fish stick packs may bear grading and inspection marks. Fish sticks may also be cut or extruded from a minced fish block. Labels must, and menus should, show whether fish sticks are "minced fish" or "fillet fish" sticks.

Fishery: defined in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act as "one or more stocks of fish which can be treated as a unit for purposes of conservation and management and which are identified on the basis of geographical, scientific, technical, recreational, and economic characteristics; and...any fishing for such stocks."

Fishery Management Plan (FMP): a plan developed by a Regional Fishery Management Council and the Secretary of Commerce to manage a fishery resource pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

Fishing Capacity: the quantity of fish that can be taken by a particular fishing unit, for example, an individual, a community, a vessel or a fleet.

Fishing Community: defined in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act as "a community which is substantially dependent on or substantially engaged in the harvest or processing of fishery resources to meet social and economic needs, and includes fishing vessel owners, operators, and crew and United States fish processors that are based in such community."

Fishing Effort: the total fishing gear in use for a specified period of time. When two or more kinds of gear are used, they must be adjusted to some standard type.

Fishing Mortality: the amount of fish taken by fishing.

Fishing Power: represents the ability of a gear or vessel to catch fish during a certain time interval. Larger vessels with greater horsepower that catch more fish have a greater fishing power than smaller vessels. Improvements in a vessel or gear, such as a fish finder, can increase fishing power.

Flag Of Convenience: the registration of vessels under the flags of a number of States which operate "open registers," i.e. registers open to vessels from any State, whether or not there is any real connection between the orthodox State of the vessel and itself or not. Panama and Liberia have traditionally been the principal open registry countries, although since the 1980s there has been a growing list of flag of convenience States: e.g., Honduras, Vanuatu, and Belize. Some vessels use flags of convenience to evade restrictions on fishing adopted by their original flag State. The unregulated fishing by vessels flying flags of convenience is now regarded as the major threat to internationally sustainable fisheries.

Fletch: Large boneless fillet of halibut, swordfish or tuna.

F.O.B.: an abbreviation meaning “Free on board.” It is used with quoted prices and indicates that any shipping charges beyond the f.o.b. point are the buyer's responsibility.

Food Guide Pyramid: a graphic design used to communicate the recommended daily food choices contained in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The information provided was developed and promoted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Fork Length: the length of a fish measured from the tip of the snout and the most anterior point of the fork or "V" of the tail.

Formed Fillets: Portions cut from blocks in such a way that they appear to be natural fillets, although all are exactly the same size and shape.

Freedom of Fishing: one of the oldest principles of the international law of the sea. It is usually attributed to the early 17th Century Dutch jurist, Hugo Grotius, who argued that ownership of the high seas was unnecessary and that its resources should remain free for the use of all.

Freezer Burn: a white, chalky surface dehydration, most common on corners or narrow edges of product. Excessive freezer burn indicates exposure to cold air and results in loss of natural juices, contamination and rapid oxidation or rancidity.

Fresh: under FDA rules, refers only to product that is raw, and has never been frozen or heated, and contains no preservatives

Freezer Burn: Dehydration caused by the evaporation loss of moisture from product. It is recognized by a whitish, cottony appearance of the flesh, especially at the cut edges or thinner places.

Freezer Trawlers: trawlers that are outfitted with refrigerating plant and freezing equipment and on which the fish is preserved by freezing.


Gaping: the separation of meat in a fillet, either as a natural feature of the fish flesh or a result of poor handling. Also refers to the opened shell of live shellfish. Severe gaping indicates the shellfish is dead and should not be eaten.

Gel Pack: a coolant package filled with a gel-type material used for shipping seafood. Coolants are often dyed blue so any leakage is obvious.

Ghost Fishing: occurs when lost or abandoned nets continue to capture marine life after the nets have been lost or abandoned.

Gillnets: curtain-like nets suspended vertically in the water to entrap fish. Fish are caught by their gills in the net. These nets may be used to fish on the surface, in mid-water, or at the bottom

Girdie: the large reel used to pull in trolling lines.

Glazed: fish that has been dipped in water after freezing. Ice forms a glaze around the fish, protecting it from damage by freezer burn.

Glaze: Protective coating of ice on frozen product to prevent dehydration. There are laws against excessive glazing.

cGMP: (Good Manufacturing Practices) Federal regulations define specific procedures to minimize the contamination of food products by people in manufacturing, processing packaging and warehousing facilities. The regulations are called Good Manufacturing Procedures (GMPs). GMPs are an integral part of quality control.

Grading: a term for the incremental measurement of the weight or quality of seafood, such as counts per pound of shrimp.

GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe): the regulatory status of food ingredients not evaluated by the FDA prescribed testing procedure. It also includes common food ingredients that were already in use when the 1959 Food Additives Amendment to the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act was enacted.

Gravlax: fillets of salmon rubbed with a mixture of coarse salt, sugar and white pepper, placed meat side against meat-side with mustard and dill and pressed with weights in a chilled environment. The salmon is then sliced paper-thin and served with pumpernickel bread, sour cream, capers, onion, and lemon. Other spellings are gravadlax and gravlax.

Green Headless: raw, heads-off, unshelled shrimp. “Green” is not the color of the shrimp.

Green Sheet: The name by which most people refer to the Market News Reports issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service from New York.

Groundfish: Broadly, fish that are caught on or near the sea floor. The term includes a wide variety of bottomfishes, rockfishes, and flatfishes. However, the National Marine Fisheries Service sometimes uses the term in a narrower sense. The term usually applies to cod, cusk, haddock, hake, pollock and Atlantic ocean perch.

Groundfish (see also Bottomfish): fish species that spend most of their life cycle on or near the sea floor, including sablefish, pollock, cod, and many flatfish.

Growth Over fishing: a type of over fishing in which the loss in weight of a stock from mortality exceeds the gain in weight due to growth. When this occurs, the rate of fishing causes a reduction in the biomass of a stock. This point is defined as Fmax

Gutted: fully eviscerated.


H & G: stands for "headed and gutted." Many fishing vessels remove the head and guts of fish before landing them at a dock.

HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point): a system for preventing food borne illness by identifying the processing steps at which problems may occur and developing solutions to reduce or eliminate them. At the request of the seafood industry, HACCP became mandatory for seafood by the FDA in December 1997. HACCP principles are:


Halibut: species of fish (Hippoglossus hippoglossus and Hippoglossus stenolepis) characterized by their flatness. Both eyes are on the top side of the body. Halibut reside on the sandy bottoms of the ocean floor and are harvested by longlines. Halibut meat is highly valued.

Hard-Smoked: products that have been smoked for up to several weeks.

Headed and Gutted (H&G): Have head and viscera removed before sale.

High Grading: the discarding of a portion of catch in order to make room for larger or better quality (i.e. higher value) fish.

Highly Migratory Species: marine species that migrate long distances during their life cycle. Most tunas are included. Generally accepted scientific views of which species are highly migratory do not always accord with those listed in the Law of the Sea Convention.

High Seas: those ocean waters that are not included in the Exclusive Economic Zone, in the territorial sea or in the internal waters of a State, or in the archipelagic waters of an archipelagic State.

Histamine: an organic substance produced in the tissue of a fish that has not been properly cooled after harvest. Histamine concentrations produce allergic-like reactions in humans. Poorly handled mahi-mahi, tuna and bluefish are the most commonly implicated species. Also called scombroid poisoning due to its association with the Scombridae fishes.

Histamines: Chemicals produced by decomposition of flesh in scombroid species (tuna, mahi mahi, mackerel) from poor handling. Not usually fatal in individuals with normal immune systems.

Hot-Smoked: seafood exposed to smoke at gradually increasing temperatures (up to 180º F) over a period of 12 to 18 hours, resulting in coagulation of the protein. The product is cooked through, has a dry texture and an intensely smoky flavor.

Humpy Salmon: another name for pink salmon.


Incidental Catch: fish that are taken that were not targeted, although it is more precisely used to mean fish that are caught and retained on board for landing, even though it was not being targeted. See also Bycatch.

Individual Transferable Quotas (ITQs): regulatory systems that allocate fishing privileges to individual participants in the fishery. An individual quota may be a percentage or fixed portion of the total allowable catch (TAC) of the fishery and it can be leased, sold or otherwise transferred. Conditions may be attached to the quota and it may be withdrawn if fishing regulations are not complied with.

Internal Waters: waters on the landward side of the baseline of the territorial sea, such as river mouths and creeks, ports, harbors and canals.

I.P.W: Individual polywrapped.

IQF: individually quick frozen.

I.Q.F.: Individually quick frozen. Fillets are packed IQF in 2 or 4 oz. gradations; 2-4, 4-6, 8-10, etc. Typical species packed in this manner are whitefish, sole, cod, and Pacific rockfish. Shrimp are also sold IQF, breaded or unbreaded in various forms.

Invertebrates: animals without a backbone. Examples include shellfish, worms and jellyfish.


J-cut: a method of removing pinbones that also removes the nape. J-cut fillets are more expensive than other fillets.

J-Cut: Trimming a fillet removing both the nape and pinbones, usually the most expensive cut.

Jacks: male Pacific salmon that mature precociously (earlier than other fish in its age-class).

Jennys: female Pacific salmon that mature precociously (earlier than other fish in its age-class).

Jigging: a method of fishing using lures on a vertical line that is moved up and down, or jigged. It is used to catch squid and may be carried out by hand-operated spools, or by automatic machines. The rotation of the spool as the line is wound creates the jigging action.

Jimmy: a male blue crab.

Joint Ventures: collaborative fishing operations, usually involving two companies from different countries.


Kazunoko: dried and salted herring roe sacs, considered a Japanese delicacy.

Kg; Kilo; Kilogram: A metric weight equivalent to 2.2046 lbs. In the U.S. it is usually calculated as 2.2 lbs. Imported product is often sold by the kilogram. Kipper: To cure (herring, salmon, etc.) by cleaning, salting and drying or smoking.

King Salmon: another name for chinook salmon.

Kipper: fish, or the process of curing fish (herring, salmon, etc.), by cleaning, salting and drying or smoking.


Landings: the amount of fish caught by fishermen and brought back to the dock for marketing.

Langouste: the French name for the spiny lobster, differentiated from Maine lobsters (Homerus americanus) in that they have no claws. Langoustes are warm water crustaceans that can be found in the South Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, and off the coasts of South America, Australia and the West Indies.

Lateral Line: a sensory organ along each side of the head and body of fish, probably for detecting vibrations, currents and pressure.

Layerpack: a box of frozen fillets in arranged in layers separated by sheets of plastic. Fillets in each layer may overlap and be frozen together.

Listeria Monocytogenes: a bacterium found in the environment that is resistant to heat, freezing and drying. It has been associated with foods such as raw milk, soft-ripened cheeses, ice cream, raw vegetables, raw and cooked poultry, raw meat and raw and smoked seafood. Listeria can survive and grow at temperatures as low as 5 degrees C (41 degrees F). Acute infection with listeria may result in flu-like symptoms including persistent fever, followed by septicemia, meningitis, encephalitis, and intrauterine or cervical infections in pregnant women. Possible gastrointestinal symptoms include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Logbooks: the official vessel record of catch and effort data. In many fisheries, logbooks are required.

Logs: swordfish or mahi-mahi carcasses that have been headed, gutted and tailed, with the belly flaps trimmed.

Loin: the central, thick part of a fish fillet, above the belly. Large fillets from fish such as tuna are often called loins. Loins may be cut into steaks.

Longline Fishing: uses a main line that is anchored horizontally above the seabed with baited hooks on branch lines running off at periodic intervals. Longlines are supported in the water by a series of floats. Off the main line are branch lines with baited hooks. Longlines are used for catching demersal and pelagic fish. The quality of the catch is generally good because the fish are not crushed together as they would be in a net, although longlines sometimes capture non-target fish or other marine animals.

Long-Term Potential Yield: the maximum long-term average catch that can be achieved from the resource. It is analogous to the concept of maximum sustainable yield (MSY).

Lox: mild-cured salmon (soaked in brine for long periods, then soaked to remove the salt) that has been cold smoked.


Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSFCMA): a statute enacted in 1976 to establish an Exclusive Economic Zone (see definition above) in which foreign fishing could be controlled, and to set up a conservation and management structure for U.S. fisheries.

Mariculture: marine (ocean) aquaculture, farming the sea for plant and animal crops.

Marine Fisheries Commission: one of three interstate marine fisheries commissions (Atlantic States, Gulf States, Pacific States) that help state fishery officials to manage fisheries in state territorial marine and estuarine waters

Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA): a statute enacted in 1972 to protect marine mammals and their habitat.

Marine Mammals: species that live in marine waters and breathe air directly. They include cetaceans (whales, dolphins porpoises), pinnipeds (seals, walruses, sea lions), sirenians (manatees and dugongs) and sea otters.

Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY): the largest long-term average catch or yield that can be taken from a stock or stock complex under prevailing ecological and environmental conditions.

Mellanosis: Blackening of the shell in crustacea, especially shrimp and some crabs. Mellanosis will always appear in time, but it happens much more quickly if product has not been properly handled before freezing.

Mid-water Trawls: (also called pelagic trawls) work in mid-water rather than the sea bottom. Their front net sections are very often made with very large meshes, which herd the fish schools towards the back of the net. They may be towed by one or two boats.

Molluscs: soft-bodied, usually hard-shelled, animals of the phylum Mollusca and divided into three categories: univalves (abalone, conch, and snails), bivalves (clams, oysters, and mussels), and cephalopods (squid and octopus).

Molting: a process by which a crustacean sheds its shell to accommodate growth.


Nape: the front and thinnest part of a fillet, around the belly.

Napecut Fillets: A wide angular cut from the gillcover to the vent eliminating the rib cage, or by slicing it from the fillet.

Natural Mortality: the deaths in a fish stock caused by predation, senility, etc., but not fishing.

Net Weight: Net weight is the weight of the product without packing material or glaze. The problem is to determine the net weight without glaze, since most seafoods will drip their own moisture for days.

Nominal Catch: the sum of the catches that are landed (expressed as live weight or equivalents). Nominal catches do not include unreported discards.

Norwalk Virus: a virus that can contaminate raw oysters/shellfish, water and ice, and salads, and can be spread by person-to-person contact.


Ocean Ranching: a type of aquaculture in which farm-raised smolts are released into the ocean and return to their native rivers, where they may be caught.

Ocean Run: Industry term for a pack of random weight and size products.

Omega-3: the fatty acids found in seafood and other sources. Research has found that these fatty acids have a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system and many other aspects of human health.

Opening: a term referring to the beginning of harvesting in a fishery. Openings may last only a matter of hours or up to a number of months.

Optimum Yield: defined in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act as "(A) the amount of fish which will provide the greatest overall benefit to the Nation, particularly with respect to food production and recreational opportunities, and taking into account the protection of marine ecosystems; (B) is prescribed as such on the basis of the maximum sustainable yield from the fishery, as reduced by any relevant economic, social, or ecological factor; and (C) in the case of an over fished fishery, provides for rebuilding to a level consistent with producing the maximum sustainable yield in such fishery."

Organic: food products that are grown using cultural, biological and mechanical methods prior to the use of synthetic, non-agricultural substances to control pests, improve soil quality an/or enhance processing.

Over Capacity: refers to the situation where the fishing capacity of a fleet exceeds the availability of fish to it.

Over fishing: defined in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act as "a rate or level of fishing mortality that jeopardizes the capacity of a fishery to produce the maximum sustainable yield on a continuing basis."


Parasites: Worms or larvae that may occur occasionally in fish. All processors carefully inspect fish for parasites and cut out any discovered prior to shipment. Dead parasites are harmless but unappetizing.

Pasteurize: heating product to kill most bacteria, but not enough to cook the product.

P&D: peeled, deveined shrimp.

PDI: peeled, deveined and individually frozen shrimp.

Pair Trawling: trawling by two vessels moving in parallel with a single net towed between them.

Pelly Amendment: a United States law that allows the President to impose import sanctions against nations that engage in activities deemed by the United States to undermine the effectiveness of international environmental agreements, whether or not the country State is acting illegally.

Pelagic: fishes that live in the open sea, such as tunas and sharks, that spend most of their life swimming in the water column between the bottom and the surface.

Per Capita Consumption: Consumption of edible fishery products in the U.S., divided by the total population. In calculating annual per capita consumption, the National Marine Fisheries Service estimates the resident population of the U.S. in July of each year.

Peritoneum: the membrane lining a fish's belly cavity.

Pinbones: a strip of small bones found along the midline of many fillets; can be removed with "V" or "J" cuts.

Pink Salmon (Humpy): a salmon species that are most frequently used for canning. The name humpy comes from the large hump that forms on the male's back during spawning.

Pinnipeds: marine mammals, of the order Pinnipedia, including seals, sea lions and walruses.

Plate Freezing: a process whereby seafood is placed between two hollow metal plates and is frozen by a refrigerant flowing through the hollow plates. Typically, the plates compress the seafood to ensure uniform contact and freezing.

Pole-and-Line Fishing: a method of fishing that involves attracting fish to the vessel, using small bait fish. A pole with a barbless lure is lowered into the water that is raised when the fish bite, lifting the fish out of the water and onto the vessel.

Portion: Usually a square or rectangle, cut from a block of frozen fish. Weights vary from 1-1/2 oz. to about 6 oz. May be plain or breaded, raw or pre-cooked.

Fish portion packs may bear grading and inspection marks. Raw portions are at least 3/8 inch thick, and contain at least 75% fish. The fish from which the block is made must be fillets from only one species, skin on or skinless.

Minced fish portion is a term used for portions manufactured from mechanically separated fish flesh. Labels must, and menus should, indicate whether fish portions are "minced fish" or "fillet fish" portions.

Pots: traps in the form of cages or baskets with one or more openings or entrances. They can be made from various materials (such as wood, wicker, metal rods, etc.). They are usually set at the bottom, with or without bait, singly or in rows, connected by ropes (buoy-lines) to buoys showing their position on the surface.

Pound: a storage area for holding live lobster.

Prawn: a marketing term sometimes used to refer to large shrimp. It also is used to refer to freshwater shrimp species.

Precautionary Principle: a new fisheries management concept that includes taking action to prevent the over-exploitation of a stock before it actually occurs, allowing for a margin of error, and the principle that lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing conservation and management measures where there is a threat of serious or irreversible damage.

Precautionary Reference Points: acceptable levels of mortality and recruitment for fisheries. Limit reference points represent the outer limit within which fish stocks can produce maximum sustainable yield. Target reference points, on the other hand, are set at some point lower than the limit reference point and are intended to meet management objectives. Thus, Maximum Sustainable Yield would no longer be a target (a management objective) but an outer limit that should not be breached. The intention is to keep all harvests below MSY and, when the target reference point is exceeded so that a stock falls below or is at risk of falling below the limit reference point, automatic management measures should be initiated to allow the stock to rebuild.

Precooked: Portion which has been cooked or partially cooked so as to require only heating or minimal cooking prior to service.

Previously Frozen: seafood has been thawed, “slacked out,” or “refreshed”.

PTO: peeled, tail-on shrimp.

PUD: peeled, undeveined shrimp.

Purse Seines: a wall of netting with a gathered, or “purse,” line at the bottom. The net is deployed around the fish and the purse line enables it to be closed like a purse to catch the fish. Purse seines may be very large and are sometimes operated by two boats, although in most cases only one boat is used, with or without a skiff (a small auxiliary boat). Tuna purse seiners are large vessels, equipped to handle very large purse seine nets for tuna.


Quotas: a portion of the total allowable catch allocated to an operating unit, such as a vessel class or size or a country.


Rancidity: The oxidation of the natural oil in the fish, making the fish unpalatable.

Range: the geographical area or areas inhabited by a species.

Recruitment: the amount of fish added to a stock each year through reproduction, growth and migration into the fishing area. Also refers to the number of fish entering the spawning stock, or the number of fish from a year class reaching a certain age.

Recruitment Over fishing: a type of over fishing that results in greatly reduced spawning stock, a decreased proportion of older fish in the spawning stock, and repeated years of low recruitment.

Red Salmon: another name for sockeye salmon.

Red Tide: a reddish discoloration of coastal surface waters due to concentrations of certain toxin-producing algae.

Red Tide: A reddish-colored carpet of algae that appears below the surface of the sea and is eaten by clams, mussels and oysters. The algae secrete a substance that can be toxic to humans. Fishing grounds are closed when red tide occurs, preventing the harvest of any contaminated shellfish.

Reflagging: the practice of vessels changing their registration with a nation to another nation to escape harvest controls. This practice can seriously undermine international conservation efforts. Nations that allow vessels to reflag under their registry are commonly known as "flag-of-convenience" States.

Refreshed: seafood that has been frozen then thawed, or “slacked out” for resale. Sometimes called "previously frozen."

Relative Abundance: an estimate of actual or absolute abundance, usually stated as some kind of index.

Retort Pouch: a flexible package made of layered plastic and metallic-colored foil as an alternative to traditional cans. The layers of a retort pouch may be clear or opaque. Most are "see-through" on the top with foil on the bottom, to avoid confusion with vacuum-sealed products.

Rigor Mortis: a temporary stiffening and rigidity of muscles following death. Prolonged rigor mortis helps to maintain fresh-fish quality, because intense bacterial spoilage does not begin until after rigor mortis, with its high acid levels, has passed.

Roe: fish eggs. See “caviar."

Round: refers to whole, ungutted fish or shrimp that has been peeled but not split or deveined.

Roundfish: Refers to physical shape of the body of the fish, and is more a convenient way to group all fish other than those in the flatfish family than a scientific classification. (See Flatfish).

Run: the movement of fish inshore or upstream for spawning.


Sablefish (Black Cod) (Anoplopoma fimbria): a groundfish harvested in the North Pacific.

Salmon: several species of anadromous fish found in both the Atlantic and Pacific.

Salmonella: a bacterium found in water, soil, insects, factory and kitchen surfaces, animal fecal matter, and raw meats, poultry (including eggs) and seafood. Acute symptoms of the illness caused by the Salmonella species include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache and fever. Proper cooking destroys salmonella bacteria.

Salmonella: A microorganism causing food poisoning in humans, salmonella is very common and is found on meat, poultry and rarely, seafood. Normal cooking destroys salmonella.

Salmonid: belonging to the family Salmonidae, which includes the salmon, trout, char, and whitefish.

Salted: the process of mixing fish with dry, food-grade salt such that the resulting brine drains away.

Sashimi: a Japanese dish of raw fish, shellfish, and mollusks served with soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled vegetables. Sushi is similar but it is served with vinegared rice, and may also include nori seaweed, vegetables, and strips of cooked eggs similar to omelets.

Scallops: bivalve mollusks belonging to the genera Pecten.

Scampi: Another name for large shrimp, usually about 1 oz. or larger. Outside the U.S., the term is also applied to lobster. Also a method of preparation, usually with shrimp, that includes butter and garlic.

Scrod: designates smaller-size cod, haddock, pollock or cusk. It is not a species of fish. Sometimes spelled schrod.

Scombroid Poisoning (also called Histamine Poisoning): can occur after ingesting certain fish, particularly tuna or mahi-mahi, that have spoiled. Initial symptoms may include a tingling or burning sensation in the mouth, a rash on the upper body and a drop in blood pressure. Frequently, headaches and itching of the skin are encountered. The symptoms may progress to nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea and may require hospitalization, particularly in the case of elderly or impaired patients.

Sea Lice: small crustaceans (Lepeophtheirus) that attach themselves to salmon and feed on their flesh, producing unsightly blemishes. Efforts by a fish to rub the lice off can lead to infections.

Sea Urchin: a round spiny creature found off the coasts of Europe and America. The only edible portion is the roe, or coral, usually eaten raw with fresh lemon juice.

Seafood: all marine finfish, crustaceans, mollusks and other forms of aquatic life (including squid, sea turtle, jellyfish, sea cucumber, and sea urchin and the roe of such animals) other than birds or mammals, harvested for human consumption.

Seaweed: marine members of the algae phylum. It can be used to make sushi, soups, thicken liquids, and add extra flavor to salads and other dishes.

Section: See cluster.

Sections: The three walking legs and one claw on one side of king, snow or Dungeness crab, all attached at the shoulder.

Seine Nets: very long nets used to surround fish. They can be operated from the shore (beach seines) or from a vessel.

Set Net (Gillnet): Most have a series of floats at the top, and a series of weights at the bottom that keep the net upright in the water. Fish are caught as they swim into the net. The size of the mesh in the set net determines the size and species of fish caught. Used properly, this method is a selective fishing method.

Shatterpack: a box of frozen fillets separated by layers of plastic sheeting. To break the layers apart, the box is dropped to "shatter" the layers. Also called a layerpack.

Shelf Life: the expected amount of time a seafood product will remain in high-quality condition. In general, the higher the fat content, the more prone the product is to spoilage and flavor changes.

Shellfish: a broad term that refers to all aquatic animals that have a shell. This includes both crustaceans and mollusks.

Shrimp: members of several related crustacean genera including Peneaus and Crangon. Shrimp have a thin, segmented shell covering a tapering body, and a large head.

Shrink: natural weight loss of seafood due to seepage or fluids draining from product, also called drip or purge. Also used to describe losses because seafood had to be discarded when it became too old to sell.

Silver Salmon: another name for coho salmon.

Silverbright: chum salmon that have been harvested at sea rather than in freshwater.

Skiff: a small, powered metal boat commonly found on purse seining vessels. The seine skiff is used to assist in the pursing process by initially pulling the net away from the vessel and back again once the fish are encircled. It helps keep the vessel and net from becoming entangled.

Skate Wings: the edible portions of the skate. The flesh, when cooked, separates into little fingers of meat and has a distinctive rich, gelatinous texture. The taste is similar to that of scallops.

Skinned: Some species of fish are skinned rather than dressed, such as catfish and eels.

Slacked Out: refers to frozen seafood that has been thawed or refreshed.

Smoked: cured by the action of smoke produced from slowly burning wood or other material, to partly dry the product and impart a smoky flavor.

Smolt: young fish ready for life in a saltwater environment.

Sockeye Salmon (Red Salmon): a small Pacific salmon with red flesh.

Sook: a female blue crab.

Spawning: the release of eggs.

Spawning Stock Biomass (SSB): the total weight of all sexually mature fish a

stock. This quantity depends on year class abundance, the exploitation pattern, the rate of growth, fishing and natural mortality rates, the onset of sexual maturity and environmental conditions.

spp.: a taxonomic abbreviation signifying more than one species.

Squid: a cephalopod mollusk of the families Loligo and Ommastrephes. A slender, soft body with no bones and ten tentacles characterizes them. Squid is also known as calamari.

Steak: a cross-sectional slice of a fish, usually 1/2 to 2 inches thick and containing a section of the backbone.

Steak: Slices of dressed fish smaller than chunks. They yield an edible portion of about 86% to 92%. They are ready for cooking. Salmon, halibut, swordfish and other large fish are commonly processed and sold as steaks.

Stock (of fish): defined in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act as "a species, subspecies, geographical grouping, or other category of fish capable of management as a unit."

STP (sodium tripolyphosphate): an additive used on fish and shrimp to retain moisture.

Straddling Stocks: stocks that occur both within and in an area beyond and adjacent to the economic or fishing zones of coastal States.

Stuffed Fish: Whole dressed fish which is stuffed with dressing/stuffing before cooking. Some species, such as flounder, are available in stuffed frozen form for convenience.

Sulfites: additives used to delay melanosis, or black spot, on raw shrimp.

Surimi: a fish paste made from minced fish meat (usually pollock) which has been washed to remove fat, blood, pigments and odorous substances and mixed with cryoprotectants (such as sugar and/or sorbitol) for a good frozen shelf life.

Surimi Seafood: analog shellfish products made from surimi that is thawed, blended with flavorings, stabilizers and colorings and then heat-processed to make fibrous, flake, chunk and composite molded products, most commonly imitating crab meat, lobster tails and shrimp.

Surimi: The Japanese term for fish paste. Surimi is restructured fish flesh, usually pollock or some other economically-priced finfish, bound together, and flavored and/or colored. Surimi products are usually colored and shaped to resemble crab, lobster, scallops, shrimp or other more expensive seafood species, and may contain varying amounts of these shellfish for flavoring. The FDA recently approved disjunctive ("and/or") labeling for surimi, so the actual proportions of each species may be difficult to determine.

Sushi: usually raw fish and seafood thinly sliced and placed on boiled rice, flavored with rice wine vinegar and rolled in seaweed (nori). The rolls are sliced into bite-sized portions.

Sustainable Fisheries Act (SFA): a statute enacted in 1996 amending the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to prohibit over fishing, mandate stock rebuilding, protect essential fish habitat, and reduce bycatch.

Sustainable Yield: the number or weight of fish in a stock that can be harvested without reducing the stock biomass from year to year, assuming that environmental conditions remain the same.

Swordfish (Xiphias gladius): a large, highly migratory billfish harvested throughout the world.



Tagging: a system of marking or attaching a tag to fish so that they can be identified on recapture; used for the study of fish growth, movement, migration and stock structure and size.

Tail: the thin, tapered, tail-end portion of fillets, or the meaty tail section of lobster and shrimp.

Tails: Fish portion which resembles the tail of a fish, boneless, usually breaded or batter-dipped, raw or precooked. Weights vary from 3-1/2 to 6 oz. Sometimes the entire tail, bone-in, is breaded and frozen for sale as a "tail". The term is also applied to shrimp and spiny lobster with reference to their meaty tail sections.

Target Catch: that portion of the catch which is retained on board and which was the focus of a directed fishery (i.e., it was being targeted).

Tempura Batter: A light Japanese-style batter which is becoming increasingly popular.

Territorial Sea: the area of water adjacent to the coast over which the coastal nation is permitted by international law to exercise sovereign jurisdiction. The legal limit on the breadth of the territorial sea has varied at different periods but is now no more than 12 miles.

Threatened Species: species not presently in danger of extinction but likely to become so in the foreseeable future.

Tickler: a chain that is dragged along the bottom of the ocean in front of a net to scare fish up from the bottom and into the net.

Tilapia (Tilapia spp.): freshwater fish that are commonly grown on farms.

Tilefish (Lopholatilus chamaeleonticeps): found in deep waters along the east coast of the U.S. and as far south as Venezuela.

Tomalley: the green-colored liver of an American lobster (Homerus americanus), found in its head part.

Ton: In international seafood sales, usually refers to a metric ton (2205 lbs.).

Total Allowable Catch (TAC): the total regulated catch from a stock in a given time period, usually a year.

Trammel Nets: similar to gillnets, except they have three walls of netting instead of one. The two outer walls are of a larger mesh size than the loosely hung inner netting panel, in which the fish are caught.

Transboundary Stock: any fish stock that crosses a jurisdictional boundary, either between two coastal nations, or between a coastal nation’s Exclusive Economic Zone and the High Seas.

Traps: devices used to catch seafood. Most are box-like cages set on the seabed with a haul-in line and surface float or buoy to mark their position. Some are open-topped netting areas set at the surface.

Tray Pack: a packaging form in which seafood is prepackaged on a shallow, clear or foam-plastic tray, over wrapped with transparent, plastic film. An absorbent paper pad, covered with plastic to avoid sticking to the product, is sandwiched between the product and the tray to absorb moisture.

Trawls: towed nets consisting of a cone-shaped body, closed by a bag or codend and extended at the opening by wings. Strong steel cables (called warps) connect the net to the trawler. They can be towed by one or two vessels and may be used on the bottom (bottom trawls) or in mid-water (mid-water or pelagic trawls). In some fisheries, vessels may tow two (or even four) trawls at the same time.

Trimmed: fish that have had their fins and tail removed.

Triploid: a genetically-developed sterile animal.

Tripolyphosphate: an additive, used as a dip to reduce natural drip loss in seafood. See also STP.

Tripolyphosphate (also, Sodium Tripoly, STP): A sodium-based additive used to control moisture loss. Often applied at sea to fresh-shucked scallops. Seafood with tripoly added is referred to as "wet," "dipped," or "treated."

Trolling: a method of fishing using lines with baited hooks that are dragged behind the vessel. Several lines (up to 20) are usually towed at the same time, with the help of outriggers. Weights can be attached to the lines if the target fish is found at a greater depth.

Turbot: a flat, diamond-shaped bottom fish harvested in the North Sea and Atlantic.

Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs): panels of mesh webbing or metal grids inserted into funnel-shaped shrimp trawl nets. As the nets are towed, shrimp and other small animals pass through the TED and into the codend of the net, the narrow bag at the end of the funnel where the catch is collected. Sea turtles, sharks, and fish too large to get through the panel are deflected out an escape hatch.


Upwelling Zones: areas of the oceans where deep-ocean waters rich in nutrients rise to the surface. Although these natural upwelling zones amount to only about 0.1% of the surface of the oceans, the are very fertile, producing 44% of all the fish humans use for food.


V-cut: made when removing pinbones from a fish by cutting along both sides of the pinbone strip, leaving most of the nape.

Vein: the intestinal tract of a shrimp along the dorsal side of the tail. Lobster tails also have veins.

Vibrio parahaemolyticus: a bacterium found in estuarine and marine waters and in certain fish and shellfish. It can cause gastroenteritis resulting in diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, headache, fever, and chills.

Vibrio vulnificus: a bacterium found in ocean waters, sediment, plankton, and shellfish. Can be contracted through swimming with open wounds or by eating raw shellfish. Usually causes gastroenteritis in healthy individuals but can lead to septicemia in those with compromised immune systems.

Virtual Population Analysis (or Cohort Analysis): used by fishery scientists to estimate the size of fish stocks.

Viscera: internal organs. Eviscerated means gutted.


Wheel: the cross-sectional center cut from large fish like sharks and swordfish.

Whole Fish: fish as harvested, also called landed or round weight.

Whole or Round Fish: Fish sold just as they come from the water. They must be dressed before cooking.


Yield: the percentage of meat recoverable from a fish or shellfish.

Year Class (or Cohort): the fish in a stock born in the same year.



Types of Sushi

Chirashi – sampler of fish served over a bowl of sushi rice
Donburri is like Chirashi but just one kind of fish that you would choose. For example Unagi-Donburri would be Just Unagi (freshwater eel) served over a bowl of sushi rice.
Thick rolled sushi with many ingredients inside and each piece is very large.
Gunkan Nigiri
– A type of Nigiri that holds the ingredients like a boat, usually seen when ordering Tobiko, Ikura or Uni.
– Thin Rolled sushi with the Nori (seaweed) on the outside.
Maki –Sushi Rolls (There are many types of Maki, Futomaki, Hosomaki, Temaki, Uramaki, etc.)
Nigiri Sushi
Pieces of fish on top of two balls of sushi rice, sometimes a slice of roasted Nori (seaweed) is put on to bind the fish to the rice and to add flavor and eye appeal.
Only Sliced fish. Raw, cooked or pickled fish cut into 3-5 pieces. Usually presented on top of a few leaves of shiso and grated daikon with wasabi and ginger on the side.
Cone shaped hand rolls that are meant to be eaten from the hand like an ice cream cone.
– Rice on the outside roll. Sometimes called inside-out roll. This style of sushi has become very popular and is most seen in sushi bars in America. Some people say that it is popular in America because the Seaweed is hidden on the inside of the roll and sushi beginners are less intimidated to eat it.

Sushi Ingredients

Aji – Spanish Mackeral
Akagai – Red Clam
Ama Ebi – Raw Shrimp
Anago – Saltwater Eel
Awabi – Abalone
Ebi – Cooked/Boiled Shrimp
Fugu – Poisonous Blowfish (This can be deadly if it is not prepared correctly. Part of eating this fish is enjoying the sensation of taking your life in your hands. Or really putting your life in the hands of the sushi chef. The Fugu’s organs contains a dangerous neurotoxin, which if ingested will result in paralysis and death in 15 minutes.)
Gari – Pickled Ginger (Bright pink thinly sliced ginger, served on the side of every sushi order. Gari is served as a palate cleanser to be eaten between bites of different types of sushi.)
– Burdock root. Crunchy slender carrot looking root. Commonly found in Futomaki.
Goma – Sesame Seeds (Black or White)
– Yellowtail Tuna
Hirame – Flounder/Halibut
Hokkigai – Surf Clam
Hotategai – Scallop
Ika – Squid/Calamari
Ikura – Salmon Roe (large orange carviar with a salty taste.)
Inari – Fried Tofo skin (Commonly used as a pouch and stuffed with rice or a mixture of rice and vegetables.)
– Daikon Radish Sprouts
Kajiki – Swordfish (Boycott Swordfish! It is overfished.)
Kani – Crab
Kanikama – Imitation Crab also called Krab (Often found in California Rolls. This is made from various white fish that are pureed, seasoned and cooked into sticks. Also called Kani-kamaboko or Surimi.)
Kanpyo – Pickled Gourd (Dried and pickled Gourd thin strips commonly found in Futomaki.)
– Bonito Tuna also known as Skipjack tuna
Maguro – Bluefin Tuna
Mirugai – Horseneck Clam/Geoduck
Natto – Fermented soy bean with a very strong flavor and a mucous consistency
– Seaweed Sheet (Roasted Seaween sheet used as sushi wrapper in sushi rolls. Shredded finely for garnishes.)
– Generic term for pickled vegetables but usually people mean Takuan.
– Mackerel
Sake – Salmon (Fresh or Smoked) Pronounced differently than the rice wine (Sake).
Shiso – Japanese mint. Commonly used as garnishes but quite tasty and edible. Used as a wrapper to pick up and eat food. Green Shiso is the most common but red is available also. Very tasty with pickled plum (Umeboshi).
Shiro Maguro – Albacore Tuna (Usually served Tataki style seared or blanched on the outside and raw on the inside.)
– Sea Bass
Tai – Snapper/Sea Bream
Tako – Octopus
Takuan – Pickled Daikon (Bright yellow pickled root. Very tasty and colorful in rolls. Some people call this Oshinko.)
– Sweet Egg Omelette (Cooked in a block. This is the true test of a traditional sushi bar. In Japan, you can tell the quality of a sushi bar by its Tomago. If its bad, people have been known to walk out after tasting it.)
Tobiko – Flying Fish eggs (Bright Red/Orange Caviar that is very crunchy, sweet flavored and often found around the outside of California rolls. Other colors/favors of Tobiko are occasionally seen, Green wasabi flavored, Black squid ink and more...)
Toro – Belly Meat from Bluefin Tuna. (The more fat the higher quality. There are a few "quality levels" associated with toro. They are based upon the amount of fat in the meat. The levels are Toro-Fatty Tuna, Chutoro-Fattier Tuna, and Otoro-Fattiest Tuna.
Umeboshi – Pickled plum (This salty, tart plum helps in digestion and leaves the mouth with a clean feeling. This can be found in a paste or whole plum. Very tasty with Japanese mint (Shiso).
– Freshwater Eel (Smoked eel and in a sweet sauce this freshwater eel is very common and delicious. Most sushi beginners start with this because almost everyone loves the flavor.)
– Sea Urchin Roe
Uzura – Quail Egg (Usually served raw on top of an order of Tobiko or Uni.
– Japanese Horseradish (Spicy Green Paste found on the side of every sushi order. This Green paste is really horseradish with food coloring. Real Wasabi is very expensive and almost never found at a sushi bar. The real wasabi is from a plant that grows in mountainous streams. The root is harvested and grated very finely. Traditionally the root is grated on a shark fin. The taste of real wasabi is sweeter and less spicy than what is commonly found.)

Classic Sushi Rolls

California Roll - Krab, Avocado, and Cucumber Uramaki
(Probably the most popular Sushi EVER! Many sushi bars claim to have created this roll. This sushi roll is great for the sushi beginner just starting out or even the sushi pro looking for an old favorite.)
Hawaiian Roll - Unagi, Macadamia Nuts, Avocado Uramaki
(This decadent roll is very well balanced with texture and flavors. The crunchy nuts add a rich flavor to the creamy avocado and sweet Unagi.)
Kappa Maki - Cucumber Hosomaki
(This sushi roll is very popular with young children because there are only a few ingredients and no strong flavors.)
Philly Roll - Smoked Salmon, Cream Cheese, Avocado, Cucumber Uramaki
(This roll gets its name from the Philidelphia cream cheese and is another very tasty and popular sushi roll.)
Rainbow Roll - UraMaki with different colorful fish pressed on the outside of this roll.
(One of the most colorful rolls, this roll can be made with various ingredients but what they all have in common is the colorful fish that is pressed onto the outside of the roll after the sushi is made.)
Tekka Maki - Maguro/Tuna Hosomaki
(This is another classic roll that is about simplicity. Only a few ingredients but if prepared correctly, will be a fiest for the eyes and mouth.)
Ume Shiso Maki- Umeboshi, Shiso Hosomaki
(This combination is as classic as peanut butter and jelly. The two flavors compliment each other very well and leave a clean feeling in the mouth after eating.)

Other Sushi Terms

Baran – Baran is decorative plastic sushi grass used for its colorful appearance and interesting shapes. Baran is also a functional garnish when used to separate different pieces of sushi.
A meal in a tray or box with different compartments for each type of food. Usually a couple pieces of Sushi, Tempura, Teriyaki, and Rice.
Edamame – Soy beans that are steamed and served in the shell/pod. Usually garnished and eaten with sea salt and lemon.
Hamachi Kama
– Literally meaning the head of the Yellowfin Tuna, this is the gill plate from the fish that is broiled with a Ponzu sauce. There is a lot of meat on the gill plate and is commonly seen as a appetizer for 2 people.
– Chopsticks
– Sushi Chef (Not to be confused with Shokunin which means master sushi chef.)
– Sweet rice wine exclusively used in cooking.
– Pounded rice in paste (Usually seen as Mochi ice cream, which is small scoops of ice cream with a thin layer of Mochi on the outside.)
– Traditional sauce that is tart and salty made from simmering soy sauce, lemon juice, Mirin (rice wine), and dried bonito flakes.
Fermented rice wine (Usually served warm in small cups, or bamboo or wood boxes. Some higher quality sake is often served at room temperature.
– Master Sushi Chef
– Soy sauce that is made by fermenting wheat, soybeans and seasalt. This does contain wheat.
Sunomono – Pickled cucumber salad
– Sory Sauce made by fermenting soybeans and seasalt. This contains NO wheat.
– Style of cooking where a meat or fish is seared or blanched on the outside and raw on the inside.
– Traditional Japanese flooring made of straw or bamboo. A Tatami room in a restaurant is a private room for your party where everyone must remove your shoes prior to entering.

Useful Phrases

Domo Thank You
Domo Arigato
Thank you very much
"Cheers" (While drinking)
How are you?

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