Between 85% and 90% of all seafood is consumed in restaurants or purchased from retail stores. So when COVID-19 struck in March, the seafood industry went into shock.
Gone were the restaurants that bought millions of pounds of seafood, including our beloved salmon, a mainstay of Pacific Northwest good eating. In 2017, for instance, Washington state’s total commercial catch was 666 million pounds—and that’s just one state’s catch.
Into this desperate situation stepped Max Mossler, ’16, managing editor and developer of Sustainable Fisheries, an entity of the UW School of Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences that explains the science of sustainable seafood. Mossler developed a Fish Map from information he collated from hundreds of commercial fishing lists. The map is a way for commercial fishing companies to sell their products directly to consumers. Want some fresh fish? Visit the website and tap one of the balloons on the map to see the name of the fishing enterprise and the type of fish on the “menu.”
For example, tap a balloon on the Oregon coast and you’ll see “CS Fishery.” It is a small-boat operation bringing fresh fish and seafood directly to your home in the way that Community Supported Agriculture works. But instead of buying fresh fruits and vegetables from a farmer, you buy your choice of fish. When we checked CS Fishery in June, it was advertising Oregon albacore tuna, which makes supermarket tuna taste like, well, cat food.
Mossler, who holds a Master of Marine Affairs from the UW School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, functioned almost like an investigative reporter in putting together the Fish Map, ferreting out lists of commercial fishing concerns. “A couple of places have lists, like National Fisherman, a magazine that fishermen read. I used pinpoints from Local Catch, which represents community fisheries, and Ocean Wise, a conservation program that pro-motes sustainable seafood. This has been our most-visited web page this year. I built a map for consumers. Actually, I built it for my dad,” he says of his non-tech-savvy parent, with whom he has experienced the COVID-19 lockdown in Los Angeles.