According to Locals Seafood, the stock at the local fish market is likely larger and more varied since grocery store chains only carry what readily sells (think mild white fish, tuna, and salmon). The resident fishmonger works with the fishing fleets when they catch more unusual species, which is happening more frequently as fish from other climates migrate with the changing sea temperatures (via The Public’s Radio). Locals Seafood points out that these smaller fish markets can offer recipes and other tips on cooking the unusual catch.

Esquire offers some advice for purchasing the freshest fish, whether you are at your independent fish market or a larger grocery store. Whole fish with the heads left on should have bright eyes; cloudy ones are a sure sign the catch is old. Give the fish a good whiff; if you smell even a hint of ammonia, don’t buy it. The website also points out that lobsters and crabs must be alive at purchase, and the shells of clams, oysters, and mussels should be firmly closed.

Fishmonger Mark Fromm, from the beloved grocery chain Wegmans, which Progressive Grocer notes is committed to sustainable fish practices, also suggests asking when a fish was filleted rather than caught (via The Kitchn). Whole fish stays fresher than one that’s been cut into pieces; the best stores fillet their fish in-house.

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