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The best places to buy fresh seafood online

Get healthy fish all year round, no matter where you live.

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Brett Stevens/Cultura/Getty Images

There are lots of reasons to buy more seafood. Generally speaking, fish and seafood (wild caught in particular) are healthier both for our bodies and the planet than beef, chicken, pork and other meats (all now largely factory-farmed, often using growth hormones and other dubious practices). But for every reason to eat more fish and seafood, there seems to be an obstacle in the way -- cost and access to name a few. 

It might sound counterintuitive to order seafood online but a bevy of new members of the online seafood industry are proving that fish and seafood delivery might just be the best way to get fresh and affordable seafood into your home, especially when living far from fished waters. "Fresh seafood delivery" is not an oxymoron. A reliable seafood market (or seafood restaurant) with a consistently fresh bounty of salmon, halibut, crab and other shellfish is a treasure, to be certain, but not every town or neighborhood has one, and if you live far from the ocean things get even dicier.

This score of online ordering seafood delivery companies offer everything from high-quality salmon, jumbo shrimp, clams (and clam chowder), oysters, lobster and crab legs to harder-to-find fish species like monkfish and grouper, all flash-frozen, expertly packaged and delivered right to your door as a one-time order or recurring subscription. The new players are finding innovative ways to ensure maximum freshness and accountability and supporting sustainable seafood, with many now providing detailed records about exactly where the fish and seafood came from, when it was caught, how far it traveled and what sorts of fishing practices have been employed. 

Read more: The best meal kit delivery services of 2020

Sean Dimin, founder of seafood delivery startup Sea to Table explains how his fish-delivery company has been Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) chain-of-custody certified since the beginning and goes so far as to have each package of fish states not only the species but also where that fish was caught, how it was caught, the fishery management body responsible for its sustainability all the way down to the name of the fishing vessel if available. With the exception of a few species like lobster, most of the seafood ordered online ships and arrives frozen or, in some cases, partially thawed. If that gives you pause, consider that much of the "fresh" fish you're buying at the supermarket has already been frozen and defrosted before being laid out on the ice or wrapped in plastic, and that frozen fish is just as good for you -- when handled properly -- as fresh fish is. Most of these purveyors, like Sea to Table, freeze immediately and when the food is most fresh which means, in many cases, frozen is as fresh (or fresher) than "fresh." In essence, you're getting the freshest seafood, so don't think of fresh and frozen as mutually exclusive. Even online, you can buy fresh seafood.

If you live at the seaside, there's probably nothing better than to go out and buy a few fresh, delicious filets from a local seafood market or trusted fishmonger, but for the millions without this luxury, these are a few of the best online seafood delivery companies to order from in 2020. If you want to buy the best seafood online, here's where to go.

Read more: The best meat delivery and subscription services in 2020

Wild Alaskan Company

About Wild Alaskan Company: As you might have gathered from the name, this company specializes in fresh wild-caught seafood. It is generally thought to be both healthier and more sustainable than farmed fish, and company founder and Alaska native Arron Kallenberg has set his sights on helping American consumers gain access to good, fresh, fish. All the fish is caught either in Alaska or the Pacific Northwest with a commitment to sustainability and transparency.  

How it works: The company bills itself as a share more than a traditional retailer or marketplace and offers a monthly subscription. You can choose from salmon-only boxes, whitefish boxes or a combo, and the monthly shipments of fish (frozen at "peak freshness") start at $132 per month for 12 6-ounce portions. You can skip months or pause your membership anytime, for no extra charge. 

Sitka Salmon Shares

About Sitka Salmon Shares: Providing fresh salmon and other fish from the pristine waters of Southeast Alaska, this program is owned by a collective of carefully selected small-scale family fishermen who retain 20-30% more of the retail value of their harvest. Community-based and sourced from traditional fishing communities, everything is flash-frozen at the when it's most fresh and 100% traceable from boat to your doorstep. 

How it works: Sitka is a community-supported fishery and operates more like a community-supported agriculture organization (aka CSA or "farm-share"). This means you enroll in the program and purchase a "share" of the harvest in three- to nine-month intervals receiving deliveries that are -- to a certain extent -- at the mercy of what their fishermen catch during any given month. But regular species include wild Alaskan king salmon, sockeye salmon, coho salmon, keta salmon, lingcod, black bass, black cod, Pacific cod, yelloweye, rockfish, spot prawns, Dungeness crab, albacore tuna and halibut.

Each share varies in length and where it falls on the calendar; for example, the Premium Share starts in April and runs through December, while the Taste of Summer Share runs May through August. The fish is priced between $18-$28 per pound depending on which type of share you choose. Sitka then delivers your ever-changing seafood haul to your door monthly. You can cancel or change your order at any time. 

Right now use promo code CHOWHOUND at checkout and receive $25 off any order of a share except for the Taste of Summer share.

Lobster Anywhere

About Lobster Anywhere: As the name implies, this company specializes in the tasty crustacean and ships them live and direct from the cold waters of Maine, the lobster capital of the US. They sell only hard-shelled lobsters which are more expensive than soft-shell but are also considered to be the best -- so you might be able to find cheaper lobsters in your supermarket, but Lobster Anywhere promises the absolute best in quality. Because of market fluctuation Lobster Anywhere's prices also fluctuate but are generally competitive.

How it works: There are other offerings available like shrimp and scallops but lobster is definitely the main draw here. You can order a whole live lobster (or lobsters) as well as lobster tails (frozen and in the shell) or lobster meat (shelled) by the pound. This is not a subscription, so you order exactly what you want and it ships in roughly two days.

Thrive Market

About Thrive Market: This is less a seafood purveyor and more a wide-ranging marketplace with pantry staples and grocery items, some of which are harder to find. Though seafood options are limited, they do offer a build your own meat and seafood box that you can customize to taste. There's not as much commitment to transparency and traceability here, but as a bonus, you can tack a ton of other great products on to your order and save on shipping. 

How it works: The Build Your Own Meat & Seafood Box clocks in at $119 and requires you to select three things from a list of "staple cuts," which is mostly chicken and pork, then two selections from a list of "classic cuts," including wild-caught cod and shrimp and finally one from the "premium cuts" list, which includes wild sockeye salmon, scallops and lobster tails. 

Sea to Table

About Sea to Table: Americans really eat just a small handful of types of fish at home, according to the founder of Sea to Table Sean Dimin, and one of his aims is to introduce folks to a wider variety of great catches like Atlantic skate, redfish or Dover sole. Sea to Table's fish all comes from US wild domestic fisheries and are caught, landed and processed in the US. To prove it, each pack of fish has a traceability label so you know exactly what you're getting and where it came from, down to the actual fishing vessel that landed it. 

How it works: You can choose from a wide variety of boxes like "The New Englander," "The Kosher Box" or "The Discovery Box," which features six full servings of fish, including Maine redfish, scallops and skate, starting at just $38 (plus shipping). Choose either a one-time order or a (slightly cheaper) subscription to be delivered every two, four or eight weeks. All the seafood ships FedEx ground, fresh-frozen and packed with dry ice in recycled denim packaging.

SizzleFish

About SizzleFish: SizzleFish has one of the largest selections of fish you can order online, including salmon, grouper, tuna, bass, shellfish, calamari, smoked fish, crab (soft shell crab, crab cakes, and king crab) and much more. Most are wild-caught but not all, so be careful which boxes or individual orders you place if that matters to you. 

How it works: Like some of the other seafood delivery companies on this list, SizzleFish's inventory can be ordered as a one-time purchase for single species, a one-time variety box or as a subscription. With all the different fish offered, SizzleFish has the most options for trying new and familiar species and its prices are competitive. A package of 14 4-ounce servings of wild sockeye salmon, for instance, goes for as little as $104. Note there seems to be slightly less transparency and diligence about where this fish is coming from. All orders ship for free, but with everything sold in relative bulk, most picks are at least $80.

Patagonia

About Patagonia Provisions: You might more readily associate this brand with fleece jackets and camping gear, but Patagonia recently got into the culinary arena with its provisions arm. Patagonia offers an array of shelf-stable (until opened) fish, including smoked and cured salmon, mackerel, mussels and more, designed to be taken on boating or camping trips or simply enjoyed at home.

How it works: A pretty straightforward process where you order what you want with items starting at just $7 for some small boxes of mackerel and mussels, all the way up to $399 for a massive Feed the Family variety pack. 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.