Mullet leaping from the watery depths, the hum of a fishing vessel, the perfume of the pluff mud and the swaying of saltmarsh grass… these are the sights, sounds and smells of the Lowcountry. Some may call it their vacation escape, but many of us call it home. Despite being surrounded by water and in close proximity to the seafood within it, many of our neighbors experience a gap in their access to fresh, local and sustainably sourced seafood. With South Carolina Aquarium Good Catch Seafood Connection, we are hoping to change that.
Connecting Our Neighbors
Let’s think of our community as a net. The knots holding the net together are strengthened because of their connection to one another. Our culture, businesses, conversations, resources and more can all be passed across the net thanks to these interwoven threads that make up the whole.
Sometimes, parts of our community net become frayed or broken. Our neighbors living within these vulnerable threads lose their access to many resources, including local and fresh seafood. But those residing in areas still knotted have the opportunity to reach across the fray and pull it back together.
To achieve this and ensure greater access to the bounty this community net provides, we’re launching Good Catch Seafood Connection, a collaborative effort that provides free, local and sustainably harvested seafood to food insecure neighbors throughout the Lowcountry.
To Our Seafood
So, how did we choose which seafood to serve? Good Catch is all about using what the ocean provides from a local and sustainable lens. Luckily, shrimp and swordfish checked our boxes — both are considered a “good catch” and are adaptable across many culinary cuisines!
We found hands from other areas of our community net to help us out. Our partners focus on harvesting local and sustainable seafood, providing meals to food insecure neighbors and training the next generation of the culinary workforce. These partners are helping to mend our community net by using their own strengths, expertise and resources.
With Our Partners
We began by organizing how Seafood Connection would work and reaching out to these community organizations for help. Seafood Connection begins on Wadmalaw Island with Cherry Point Seafood, a family owned and operated commercial fish house. Each month, the Aquarium purchases 160 pounds combined of shrimp and line-caught swordfish from Cherry Point Seafood, who transports the catch to its next destination.
Students enrolled in the Culinary Institute of Charleston at Trident Technical College receive the swordfish and practice their culinary skills by fileting, preparing and packaging it before delivering it to Lowcountry Food Bank. The Lowcountry Food Bank, a nonprofit focused on fighting hunger in coastal South Carolina, prepares the swordfish into meals and distributes these meals to food insecure neighbors throughout the ten coastal South Carolina counties they serve.
Meanwhile, Cherry Point Seafood directly delivers the shrimp to One80 Place, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending and preventing homelessness in Charleston. One80 Place trains their residents in the culinary arts and uses the donated shrimp as a key ingredient before serving these prepared dishes in their community kitchen.
Across Our Lowcountry
Together we are working to make our interwoven community stronger. With the efforts of this group of organizations, Seafood Connection is projected to serve 5,000 meals of fresh and local seafood annually to food insecure neighbors.
We’re also uplifting the other facets of Good Catch: supporting local fishermen, reducing our carbon footprint, keeping local seafood truly local and helping community members gain culinary skills to build their futures through the lens of local seafood.
This community net is our home and by reaching across the fray, we hope to reconnect countless South Carolinians to seafood, and to each other.
Published October 9, 2023