Jes Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman magazine and NationalFisherman.com.
Thursday, 16 August 2012
In my morning headline perusal, the confluence of two stories got me thinking. First was about the Midwestern chain of grocery stores promoting Gulf of Mexico shrimp and then I saw a headline about a new jackpot lotto winner in Michigan. It got me fantasizing about winning the lottery — and selling fish.
What would I do if I won? The first thing I thought of was not a trip to the Mediterranean (though that would make the short list). I'd bankroll the National Seafood Marketing Coalition.
I went to the grocery store a couple of weeks ago hoping to find some U.S. shrimp to go with a grilled Caesar salad. We had used spot prawns a couple of weeks before and were itching to replicate the experience.
Got to the seafood case, and not a single shrimp or prawn was from this hemisphere (North or West), and forget wild of any sort. I know, it's the grocery store, so what should I expect? But this happens to be a store that takes pains to label local seafood with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute's Responsibly Harvested label. So why doesn't their "mission" extend to other types of seafood?
The easy answers are that A) consumers don't demand it and B) no one is working with the store's corporate headquarters to make that happen. Those are the problems a national marketing initiative could solve.
We put a lot of pressure on consumers to know enough about seafood to support their local fishermen. Meanwhile, the most accessible "guides" are full of political claptrap that no one could possibly wade through without hours of research. And that's not the point of a guide.
How easy would it be to work with supermarket chains across the country to devote a section to Wild American Seafood? Make it easy for the consumer, and give the retailer an opportunity to sell premium products (often at premium prices). I would have walked right up to that section and purchased expensive shrimp instead of the premium chicken I ended up with.
Alas, don't get your hopes up. Did I mention I don't play the lotto?
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