From aggressively selling Maine lobster and Gulf of Mexico red snapper, to detouring Dungeness crab and direct marketing king salmon, U.S. fishermen still found some successes amid the covid-19 ravaged markets of 2020.
The year started with hopeful signs for the industry, with revenue up 3 percent in January and February — before restaurant closings and doors to the China market slamming shut dropped revenue 19 percent in March, according to a NMFS analysis.
Overall, January to July saw a 29 percent decline. But fishermen, who see their own agency as the answer to adversity, stepped back in to seek new local markets and partners to expand their range beyond traditional boundaries.
One bright spot amid the pandemic mayhem was signs of shifting consumer behavior, says Paul Doremus, the NMFS acting administrator. The shock of food supply disruptions during a public health crisis got more people thinking about healthy diets and the role of preparing seafood at home as part of that.
In fact many fishermen, seafood advocates and marketers say the pandemic experience should point a new way forward — to sell the benefits of a more robust, resilient and healthy supply of U.S.-caught seafood.
Our reports from around the coasts show signs of where that could lead.