To help prevent the kind of seafood fraud that has plagued many American ports and cities from becoming an issue in their local community, the City of Key West, in conjunction with the commercial fisherman of the Florida Keys and the Three Hands Fish market, today announced that February 2017 will be known as Know Your Fisherman month.
Throughout February, Key West will celebrate their commercial fishermen, who provide the community and tourist economy with the unsurpassed local, fresh seafood that has built the island’s reputation as one of the world’s leading fresh seafood capitals.
“For generations, our family of Florida Keys commercial fishermen has provided us and our many visitors with locally-caught Keys seafood that is so fresh it has made Key West one of the seafood capitals of the world,” said Key West Mayor Craig Cates. “All of us in Key West owe a great debt to our commercial fishermen. Our tourist income wouldn’t be what it is without them. The Know Your Fisherman proclamation represents the beginning of a sustained effort to ensure that their work is widely-recognized and accurately-represented here in Key West and wherever else our great seafood is sold.”
As part of the Know Your Fisherman proclamation, the fishermen sponsors have also launched “Who Caught It?”, an innovative in-restaurant educational campaign. The campaign creates the expectation that if markets and restaurants are stating their seafood is “fresh” and “local,” they should be able to answer a very simple question: Who Caught It? Local commercial fishermen are well-known by the restaurants they fish for. Participating restaurants and markets in the “Who Caught It?” campaign will not only answer the question, they will hand out a Florida Keys Commercial Fisherman “baseball-style” card to each restaurant customer. It’s a unique and innovative way to get to “know your fishermen”.
“It’s discouraging to see how prevalent seafood fraud has become in restaurants across parts of Florida and throughout the country,” said Captain Zane Osborn, a Florida Keys commercial fisherman and regular supplier of his locally-caught fish to the Three Hands Fish market in Key West. “All too often, the terms ‘fresh’ and ‘local’ are included on menus as a marketing tool, when in fact they are misrepresenting the fish being sold. Know Your Fisherman demonstrates to all of us Florida Keys commercial fishermen that Key West is aware of this national epidemic, and they’re taking a stand to prevent it from becoming a threat to our restaurant’s integrity and Key West’s reputation as a tourist destination.”
A 2015 NOAA report concluded that 86% of the seafood consumed in the United States is imported, 50% of it coming from unregulated, unhygienic fish farms. 100% of it arrives frozen. 98% of all imported seafood is under-inspected by the FDA. According to recent exposés published by the Boston Globe, New York Times, Tampa Bay Times, and Consumer Reports, it is this seafood that is appearing on the menus of restaurants and markets across the country under the guise of fresh, local, and American catch.
“The Know Your Fisherman and Who Caught It? campaigns work to ensure that all seafood declared ‘fresh’ and ‘local’ will be tagged with a Florida Keys commercial fisherman’s name and face,” said Captain Paul Menta, a Florida Keys commercial fisherman and co-founder of Three Hands Fish, a program that directly connects fishermen and their catch with local restaurants and community members. “Seeing and reading about the actual fisherman who caught your meal personalizes the entire transaction. Key West is a major destination for seafood lovers. This program goes a long way to eliminating ambiguity and mystery. It creates complete transparency and honesty, which is what consumers from all over the world now expect in our restaurants today.”
Wednesday, February 22, will be recognized as Know Your Fisherman Day, the pinnacle of this month-long program. On this day members of the local government, Florida Keys commercial fishermen, restaurant chefs, and community members will come together at the Three Hands Fish market to express appreciation to the local commercial fishermen community.
“This is just the first of many steps Key West will take to ensure that our island proudly and confidently remains a world capital of fresh and sustainable seafood,” concluded Cates. “Key West has always been a progressive island, often standing brave in the face of adversity. This proclamation presents us with another opportunity to show the world just how progressive and forward-thinking we are.”
Get to “Know Your Fisherman” throughout February and beyond by asking restaurants and markets promoting “fresh” and “local” seafood “Who Caught It?” to receive your fisherman baseball card. Visitwww.KnowYourFisherman.com to learn more about our commercial fishermen of the Florida Keys! For hi-res photography, click here.
1 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA, 2015): "The U.S. imports up to 90 percent of its seafood, about half of which is aquaculture."