Happy National Seafood Month! If you’re like me, you’ve been counting the days until the first oyster roast of the season. Even when October has come and gone, we can still celebrate our local, sustainable fisheries and seafood all year long with South Carolina Aquarium Good Catch and our Good Catch partners!
As consumers, we have a powerful voice in driving the seafood market. Although many of us do what we can to choose local and regional seafood products when the opportunity exists, the low cost of imported seafood, driven by lack of regulations, has caused southeastern fisheries to greatly decline. This results in most of the seafood caught off our coast to be exported and much of the seafood in restaurants to be imported. In a state that prides itself in having an abundance of fresh seafood and some of the most sustainable fisheries in the world, South Carolina Aquarium Good Catch has transitioned to focus on and support these local fisheries.
We define local to include the southeastern regional fisheries (located from North Carolina to the east coast of Florida), with priority given to South Carolina fisheries. The South Atlantic fisheries are some of the most heavily regulated in the world, which gives us confidence that we’re making the most sustainable choice. Not only does supporting local fisheries support the local economy, but it is the most sustainable option because it produces the smallest carbon footprint with the fewest food miles traveled.
While we refreshed the overall direction of Good Catch, we also developed updated criteria for Good Catch Partner levels with the assistance of the Good Catch Advisory Council. Our Good Catch partners are committed to serving a higher percentage of local, sustainable seafood and include restaurants, seafood purveyors and caterers.
Another critical area of importance where restaurants and businesses can have an impact is with plastic pollution. Because plastic pollution is one of the greatest conservation issues of our time, an additional criterion of reducing the use of single-use plastics was added to create the highest Good Catch partner level, Platinum.
Good Catch Partner levels:
- Basic Partner: at least 1/3 of annual seafood inventory locally sourced.
- Gold Partner: at least 1/2 of annual seafood inventory locally sourced.
- Platinum Partner: at least 1/2 of annual seafood inventory locally sourced and follows South Carolina Aquarium single-use plastic reduction initiative.
Platinum Partners agree to:
- No plastic bags offered for takeout or to-go orders
- Plastic straws are provided upon request only.
- No use of Styrofoam products.
- Reusable tableware is provided for onsite dining; plastic flatware for to-go food are provided by request only.
- Local recycling regulations are followed.
Good Catch partners are integral to the continued success of this conservation initiative, but the success of the program also depends on the community’s understanding and awareness of the importance of supporting locally-sourced seafood. For this reason, part of my focus is seeking outreach opportunities and developing relationships outside of the Aquarium’s walls to expand the program’s reach and increase that awareness.
I am thrilled with my recently-appointed role as the Good Catch Coordinator and look forward to continuing to grow this program with your support. The best way for us to be successful in supporting our local fisheries is to raise awareness and work as a community to make the most sustainable choices possible!
To learn more about Good Catch, contact Andrea Margiotta at [email protected]