Support Your Local Seafood Industry: Buy Local

By Chef Bill Idell
September 2015

Did you know that in the United States almost 90% of the seafood we eat is imported? That may be hard for many in Rhode Island, also known as the Ocean State, to believe. With two viable fishing ports, one in Newport and one in Point Judith, Rhode Island has a 200 million dollar seafood industry.

Chefs are playing an instrumental role in ensuring that we have a strong and viable seafood industry here in Rhode Island. A great way for chefs – and home cooks – to support their community’s fishing industry is by getting to know their local fishermen or seafood purveyors and purchasing seafood that is found in local waters. Examples of some of the species we have here in Rhode Island are scallops that come from George’s Bank, an area off of the Atlantic coast, but are brought in by Rhode Island fishermen, yellowtail flounder and of course, the state fish, calamari.

When it comes to seafood sustainability, one thing that you hear a lot about is "menu-ing" underutilized species. These are species of fish that you don’t really see a lot. A good example of that is scup. There’s a lot of scup off the coast of Rhode Island. In fact, in 2013, there was actually 6,000,000 pounds of scup "landed" in Port Judith. One of the reasons that scup may be underutilized is that it can be tricky to work with because of its small size.

We want to support our local fisherman, and that’s one of the essentials we are emphasizing in the sustainability curriculum at Johnson & Wales.