Squid made up most of the 48 million pounds landed at Point Judith, R.I., during 2018, a year when the port brought in $64 million, according to the latest National Marine Fisheries Service statistics.

So when the covid-19 pandemic shut down restaurants around the country – and with them most demand for fried calamari, the ubiquitous casual-dining appetizer – the Rhode Island seafood industry took a huge hit.

But fishermen and their supporters in state government regrouped, with a new licensing system to allow fishermen to sell directly to customers as “our restaurant and fishing industry have been decimated” by the lockdowns, state Democratic Party chairman Joe McNamara told the national television audience during the Tuesday evening broadcast of the national Democratic presidential convention.

With covid-19 precluding the traditional convention-center national political gathering, the party produced a novel state-by-state reading of delegate votes at often scenic, remote locations.

McNamara’s 30-second cameo was on a beach at Warwick, R.I., flanked by a black-masked John Bordieri, executive chef at the nearby Iggy’s Boardwalk restaurant – holding a platter of calamari.

With a renewed state marketing push, McNamara told the audience, “calamari is available in all 50 states. “The calamari comeback state of Rhode island casts one vote for Bernie Sanders, and 34 votes for the next president of the United States, Joe Biden.”

Have you listened to this article via the audio player above?

If so, send us your feedback around what we can do to improve this feature or further develop it. If not, check it out and let us know what you think via email or on social media.

Associate Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for more than 30 years and a 25-year field editor for National Fisherman before joining our Commercial Marine editorial staff in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.

Join the Conversation