Can North Carolina’s Local Seafood Movement Help Save its Fishermen?

nc-fishermenNorth Carolina’s commercial fishermen—who work primarily in independent, small-scale operations—landed 66 million pounds of fish last year, but rather than ending up on North Carolina plates, the majority was whisked out of state to markets where it could fetch a higher price. “I think more New Yorkers eat North Carolina seafood than North Carolinians,” says Ann Simpson, who grew up in a small town on the coast and currently directs North Carolina Catch, a partnership of smaller organizations working to strengthen the state’s local seafood economy.  To fill the void created by the export of its catch, North Carolina—like most states—ships in seafood from abroad. Today, around 90 percent of the seafood Americans eat has been imported from places like China, Thailand, Canada, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Ecuador, and the average fish travels more than 5,400 miles between the landing dock and point of sale. “We don’t do one thing year-round,” says longtime fisherman Dewey Hemilright, who operates a 42-foot boat named Tar Baby out of Wanchese, North Carolina, catching tuna, swordfish, bluefish, spiny dogfish, croakers, blueline tilefish, and many others, depending on the season. “The diversity of fisheries is what makes us unique.” Read the story here 11:26

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