OLYMPIA, Wash. — Consumers have long had access to local Washington seafood through their favorite grocer or farmers’ market, but this October the state is celebrating Seafood Month by recognizing the growing trend to connect residents to those who supply this local bounty.
With reduced demand from restaurant, market, and global trade during the global COVID-19 pandemic, this Seafood Month Washington Sea Grant and the Washington departments of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and Agriculture (WSDA) are showcasing efforts popping up in Westport, Bellingham, and the Olympic Peninsula for consumers to directly connect with this part of the state’s cultural history.
“With salmon, rockfish, shrimp, and albacore tuna in season right now, Seafood Month comes at a great time to celebrate just how easy to is to enjoy these amazing Pacific Northwest foods,” said Larry Phillips, coastal region director with WDFW. “Enjoying Washington seafood this month – and all year long – is a choice that consumers can feel good about, as the state uses strict science-based oversight to keep sustainable seafood on the menu and your table for years to come.”
“We are pleased to be partnering with WDFW and the Washington State Department of Agriculture, highlighting the value that our local commercial fisheries bring to Washington consumers,” said W. Russell Callender, director of Washington Sea Grant. “Through sharing recipes widely and useful resources to consumers, we hope to increase consumer understanding and access to Washington’s sustainable seafood resources.”
The City of Westport and the Port of Grays Harbor have teamed up to Westport’s Fresh Catch, a marketing effort to help visitors connect directly with local fisherman coming off the docks or restaurants serving the seasonal catch. The effort includes a web page, boardwalk signs, and social media marketing.
“The Fresh Catch campaign has been a great way to highlight Westport’s Seafood Industry and promote fresh seafood availability,” said Westport Mayor Rob Bearden. “Partnering with the Port of Grays Harbor has allowed us to engage with a broad base of people looking for fresh seafood. Our local fishermen, residents and guests all benefit, which is positive for the entire community and economy.”
In Bellingham, fishermen, port officials, the Working Waterfront Coalition, and Bellingham SeaFeast are working right now to expand access to fisher-direct sales fresh from the boat. The local campaign will launch in mid-October.
“The Port recognizes that our local commercial fishermen are navigating new challenges at the same time consumers are shifting to respond to changing economic circumstances,” said Port of Bellingham Executive Director, Rob Fix. “We want to welcome people to our harbor with these direct seafood sales and see people leaving the dock with their locally sourced dinner in hand.”
Travelers to the Olympic Peninsula can follow the Olympic Culinary Loop to find local farms and producers and savor food all along the coast from shellfish to produce and more.
“We encourage visitors to “eat their way around the 330-mile Loop in smaller servings,” said Lisa Martin, Olympic Culinary Loop president and co-owner of the Olympic Cellars Winery. “For example, “take a bite” out of the Southwest corner by experiencing Westport, Ocean Shores and Moclips over one long weekend, and then return north to the Strait of Juan de Fuca again for another. Or, they could taste all that the Loop has to offer during a specific season or in search of a particular taste. This is ideal for fans wanting to plan ahead to experience seasonal seafood and shellfish.”
During Seafood Month, WDFW, WSDA, and Washington Sea Grant will be sharing stories and videos featuring Washington’s maritime towns, commercial fishermen and women, and recipes to enjoy local Washington seafood.
More information about when and where to buy locally sourced Washington seafood is available at wdfw.wa.gov/LocalWASeafood. Consumers can also find Pacific Northwest seafood near them with the help of Local Catch, a network of supported fisheries and small-scale harvesters.
View the Governor’s Seafood Month proclamation.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish, wildlife, and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting, and other recreation opportunities.
Washington Sea Grant, based within the College of the Environment at the University of Washington, helps people understand and address the challenges facing Washington’s ocean and coasts through marine research, technical expertise and education.
WSDA supports agriculture and the public through service, regulation, and advocacy, to keep all agriculture in our state viable and vital, while protecting consumers, public health, and the environment. The agency is home to the state Shellfish Aquaculture Coordinator and an International Marketing program that support shellfish producers by seeking efficiencies and promoting market access.
— Washington State Department of Agriculture
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