The Pandemic’s Impact on New Bedford’s Fishing Industry
You may be wondering how New Bedford's fishing industry has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Dan McKiernan from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries has put together and incredibly informative video:
McKiernan offers this interesting fact: over 70 percent of seafood is traditionally sold in restaurants. One can only imagine the impact that the restaurant shut down has had on the fishing industry. With virtually no restaurant dining rooms open nationwide to sell this seafood, the demand for seafood has plummeted overnight. There's been a slight pickup in sales for some fish that is prepared at home, but nowhere near enough to make up for the difference in sales from the restaurants. According to McKeirnan, this has "devastated sales and reduced the prices (of seafood) to the fleet" of fishermen.
McKiernan calls it an "enormous problem for fishermen, their families, and the community." McKiernan explains that the temporary reduction of seafood values has caused "some fishermen to sell some of their catch directly to the public by obtaining state permits to sell live lobsters, crabs, whole fish, and shucked sea scallops to consumers from their boat."
McKiernan warns, however, that state regulations do not allow the sale of processed fish or oysters to be sold directly from the boat. However, if you've seen a shellfish farmer selling directly to the public it is because they hold a proper license to also be a certified dealer.
McKiernan says that although these types of direct sales help the fisherman, it will, unfortunately, not be anywhere close to making up the void that the lack of restaurant sales has created. The fishing industry, says McKiernan, will only fully recover when the restaurants have fully recovered.
What can you do? Simple: eat more seafood. We are so lucky to live in or near the seafood capital of the world. Make it a point to buy and prepare more seafood, especially during this pandemic. It's no exaggeration that the SouthCoast is home to some of the world's best seafood markets. By taking full advantage of these seafood markets, we'll be able to eat healthy, eat yummy, and support local families.