UMass dining commons serving up ‘trash fish’

By Carson McGrath


The University of Massachusetts dining commons have been frying up “trash fish” for its students every week since the fall semester.

According to Bob Bankert, chef de cuisine for UMass Dining, the official name for what the students are eating is dogfish, a small species of shark, nicknamed “trash fish” for being a less popular species in the market.

Even though people may be turned off by the name, Bankert said dogfish is a flavorful and high quality fish whose presence in our local waters makes it a perfect candidate for meals in UMass’s dining commons.

“Dogfish is very abundant in our waters, and very underutilized. As a result it is very well priced for us too,” Bankert said. “It is the best of both worlds as it keeps our cost down and it supports our local fisheries in New England.”

Now dogfish is on the menu in every dining hall on campus. Every Friday night the dining commons have a fish fry, serving a total of 100 to 150 pounds of fish to students in each of the four dining areas, Bankert said. In the past UMass dining used pollock for the fish fry, but now the dogfish is just as popular.

“It has been a huge hit so far,” Bankert said.

Dogfish is served at the dining commons in fish wraps, in bouillabaisse and in fish stews such as their Portuguese seafood stew.

The University has started to look for other alternatives for fish as well. Mackerel is another fish abundant off the New England coast, Bankert said, though they are more in season during the late spring and summer.

Since UMass is not in session during those times, Bankert said they are looking for a source to buy mackerel in bulk and freeze it over the summer so it would be fresh and available throughout the winter.

Bankert added that some fish, such as cod, have been overfished off the Atlantic Coast for the past decade so finding a better, local alternative for UMass was a priority.

“Our goal is to continue to move towards fish in our local waters,” said Bankert.

Bankert hopes more people will follow and that the fish will be available in more markets. Until then, UMass Dining will continue to serve the “trash fish” to students while also searching for more sustainable seafood options.

Carson McGrath can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @McGrathCarson.