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“We need to be having more of these conversations.”

Yes, we do.

The overriding dynamic we need to change in this country regarding seafood is this: more than 90% of the seafood we eat is imported. This is an oft-cited statistic that seems to raise eyebrows … then disappears into the ether as we go about our business.

That statistic doesn’t really begin to take on significant meaning for people until they see it in context and start connecting the dots as to why this is happening, and what we can do about it.

I launched One Fish Foundation to bring this message to schools and communities. I started the KNOW FISH dinner series with a great team to spark the type of community discussions that get people to ask questions, seek answers and understand they have an impact, however small, on the resource. Hopefully, their decisions and their understanding can spark other conversations and even, dare I say it, start a groundswell.

kfwpfpollock
Pan-seared pollock from the F/V Finlander

Thus, the first KNOW FISH dinner held last week at When Pigs Fly in Kittery was a success. Attendees sat next to fishermen, fishmongers and activists and asked questions. They discussed the domestic seafood picture and why we should care when, where, how and importantly, by whom our seafood is harvested.

They heard from Capt. Tim Rider, of the F/V Finlander and New England Fishmongers about how small-scale New England fishermen are getting squeezed out by unfair regulations and big operations with deep pockets. They learned what questions to ask and how to get smarter about the choices they make. They learned from Spencer Montgomery of Dole & Bailey and New England Fishmongers why it’s important to shorten the supply chain and buy locally caught seafood. He told them some signs to look for to tell if a fish has been sitting around too long.

They learned interesting trivia about New England and its fisheries. They learned how climate change is impacting the Gulf of Maine.

kfwpfsausage
Unbelievably delicious cusk (local, abundant) sausage from M/V Finlander.

And Chef Robert Martin put on a feast: delicious cusk sausage (trust me here!), pan-seared pollock, and roast cod (all fresh caught and graciously donated by Capt. Rider) and accompanied by tasty, artfully presented seasonal vegetables.

I was encouraged with the comment above and others like it as departing attendees expressed a new perspective and perhaps reflected even a bit of my enthusiasm for sharing the sustainable seafood message. Our decisions make a difference.

Perhaps if we keep having these discussions, that 90% statistic will become a distant memory and the narrative will shift to one of widespread support for domestic, local, sustainable fisheries. One conversation at a time.

The next will be the KNOW FISH dinner on Oct. 27 at Black Trumpet in Portsmouth. Get tickets here.

Come join the conversation … and the feast.