Five Steps To Support Local Seafood

Perspectives | Jun 11, 2020

by Kyle Foley

Sustainable Seafood Senior Program Manager

Here are five simple steps you can take to support the people and businesses who work so hard to provide us with delicious local seafood.

the number five displayed over a photo featuring blue gloves and mussels

Our region has deep historical and cultural ties to the coast and the seafood harvested from the Gulf of Maine’s waters. We have a diverse range of abundant, responsibly harvested fish, shellfish, and sea greens coming from our own backyard. Yet today, local fishermen, sea farmers, and seafood businesses compete in a massive and global seafood marketplace.

Here in the US, it’s estimated that we import between 70–90% of the seafood sold in this country. Even in a fishing region like New England, we eat more seafood from other parts of the world than we realize. Choosing and asking for local seafood is one way to support coastal communities in our region and to ensure we have continued access to a healthy, abundant local protein.

Here are five simple steps you can take to support the people and businesses who work so hard to provide us with delicious local seafood.

a graphic displays two fish in a cart alongside text that reads "eat more seafood"

Choosing to eat more seafood is the simplest, most powerful way to contribute to the strength of our waterfront economy. Buying local seafood supports fishermen and their families, and it keeps our coastal communities thriving. Americans eat about 19 pounds of seafood per year, in comparison to about 90 pounds of chicken. Each of us eating a little more seafood means restaurants and grocery stores can diversify the seafood they sell and offer more of it, benefitting those whose livelihoods depend on the ocean.

Over the years we’ve developed a number of resources intended to help you eat more seafood, as have other partners and friends of GMRI.

Here are some ways to get started:

line art displays two people exchanging a fish with text that reads "Connect with fishermen and sea farms"

Fishermen and sea farmers are the backbone of our seafood economy and coastal communities.

During the pandemic, many fishermen and farmers began to sell their seafood directly to consumers. If you’re interested in seeking out these direct-to-consumer opportunities, here are a few to get you started:

Line art depicts a fork and a spoon on a to-go bag alongside text that reads "3. Choose seafood on restaurant menus"

Before the onset of the pandemic, around 70% of seafood was eaten in restaurants nationally, and the loss of restaurant orders had a significant impact on the seafood industry. As restaurants have worked to recover from the pandemic, they remain critical to our local seafood economy.

We urge you to seek out our Culinary Partners, which are restaurants in the region that have made commitments to purchase Gulf of Maine seafood.

We also encourage you to order seafood and to ask for local seafood wherever you dine out. We know it makes a difference when restaurants hear from customers that they are interested in seeing local seafood featured on menus.

Find a map and list of our Culinary Partners here.

Line art depicts a storefront with a person in the window alongside blue text that reads "4. Shop for seafood"

Fish markets and grocery stores are important to our local seafood economy. Several of our Gulf of Maine Responsibly Harvested® partners have retail shops or websites where you can buy local seafood, including:

Of course, you can also choose local seafood when you go to larger supermarkets. We have partnered for many years with Hannaford on their sustainable seafood policy, as well as their efforts to highlight local seafood. We work with Hannaford to ensure that all the seafood entering their stores meets key criteria in their sustainable seafood policy, including local seafood. Hannaford consistently offers 20–25 local seafood items across the store — in their fresh seafood case, look for “local” or “Gulf of Maine” on the labels to make a local choice.

As you shop, remember that fresh seafood can be frozen to relieve the pressure of using it right away. Also, think about trying something new — many local fish, like redfish, hake, pollock, plaice, are easy substitutes in any white fish recipe. Maybe you usually eat shellfish only when you go out to eat; try cooking clams, mussels, oysters, or lobster at home.

line art depicts two people talking about fish alongside text that says "Spread the word"

The seafood economy is core to our coastal communities continuing to thrive. Every day, we have the opportunity to make purchasing decisions that support the people involved in harvesting and bringing seafood to our plates.

Food is best enjoyed with others, so we hope you’ll share these opportunities to buy local seafood with your friends and family.

Here are some ideas to get started:

  • Host a dinner party or potluck! Encourage some friends and family to each prepare a dish with a different type of local seafood or invite loved ones over to show off your seafood cooking skills.
  • Learn a new skill with friends! You could try buying whole fish and learn to fillet or learn how to shuck oysters together.
  • Share this piece on social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), tag us, and let us know what other local seafood options you’re a fan of. We’ve highlighted several of our partners and friends for you to connect with, but this is by no means an exhaustive list.

Whatever you choose to do, we hope you’ll enjoy more local seafood in your everyday life. Stay in touch with us on social and let us know what questions you have about buying local seafood!

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