The price of seafood

I saw this on Mike Conroy’s Facebook page and asked him if I could share it on the AM site. I think it’s important to hear about seafood and commercial fishing from a lot of different views, and most importantly, a lot of different geographic areas. Because although we may be in a different place, many people who spend their days fishing or working for the fishing industry are dealing with similar obstacles and issues. One of these being an attempt to share with people more information about the true cost of seafood and fishing. Most people choose seafood by its price and although domestic seafood doesn’t always need to be expensive, it often appears to be “more expensive” than some imported fish. There are reasons for that and Mike does a good job digging into that below. Thanks, Mike!

From Mike Conroy:

People often ask why domestically harvested seafood carries a higher price tag than imported seafood. U.S. seafood harvesters (depending on which fishery they participate in) may have to: (1) inform the Govt that they intend to go fish; (2) carry a computer unit which tracks their every move; (3) carry an observer that fishermen pay for at roughly $750/day; (4) forego fishing opportunities because harmful algal blooms or other things beyond their control (undredged harbor entrances for example); (5) avoid productive areas because of the presence of non-marketable species; (6) take time off the ocean (at their own expense) to attend meetings in order to protect their ability to harvest that seafood and/or setting the record straight from factual misrepresentations; and (7) deal with Govt agencies (local, State and federal) that seem more concerned about avoiding litigation than getting it right.

Additionally, U.S. seafood harvesters have to: (1) risk their lives providing a healthy source of protein to U.S consumers; (2) endure countless unwarranted assaults on their livelihood from certain ENGOs who fund operations by suing the Government; (3) comply with Coast Guard rules and regulations designed to minimize loss of life and increase vessel safety; (4) comply with countless laws, rules and regulations from a litany of Government Agencies; (5) manage their small businesses under an ever-changing landscape; (6) compete against cheaper imports from nations which subsidize their operations and are far less concerned about the environmental impact(s) of those operations; (7) work to ensure fishing grounds are not ceded to activities which could be placed elsewhere; and (8) protect limited space (land and water) in ports and harbors from further gentrification

What can you do: (1) ask where the fish you are buying comes from; if the server at your local dining establishment doesn’t know – ask the manager, if they don’t know – order the steak; (2) ) if you must buy imported seafood; research it - certain farmed shrimp from SE Asia are fed pig feces; AND (3) buy seafood harvested by U.S. fishermen – ideally from your local fishermen’s market or local fishmonger.

Mike Conroy lives in Southern California and in a prior life, he pushed paper as a corporate lawyer. Before and after that experience Mike has operated fishing vessels in both the commercial and charter boat sectors. From these experiences, he learned how various fisheries are prosecuted and how thoughtful, science-based management can benefit the fleets, buyers and processors, seafood consumers and other interested stakeholders. Mike works with fishermen, fishing associations and other persons on a number of issues ranging from transactional legal work, fisheries management, fisheries policy development, etc. Mike noticed a need, within the fishing industry, for a voice who can bridge the gap between the realities of commercial and charter boat fishing, government agencies charged with managing the fisheries, the non-consumptive voices who enjoy the resources in a different way and the environmental organizations who promote sustainability and minimal impacts on the environment and ecosystem(s) resulting from fishing activities This need prompted the formation of West Coast Fisheries Consultants, LLC.