Today the Boston Convention Center once again welcomes the Seafood Expo North America (#SENA15)–the Northeast’s largest convention center playing host to the largest seafood industry trade show in North America. Boston, as the oldest continuously operated fishing port in the Western Hemisphere, is an appropriate place for such an event, but as I crossed the Summer Street bridge this morning en route to the hulking mass of the Convention Center, I could’t help but feel a twinge of sadness.
South Boston, where the Convention Center is located, was once home to the infrastructure that supported the Nation’s most historic and valuable fishery. While commercial catch is still landed near here, the landings are but a shadow of what they once were. The sights and sounds (and smells!) of a vibrant fishing port have been largely replaced by “redevelopment.” Restaurants and waterfront condos. Last fall, Commercial Fisheries News reported on the planned destruction of a historic fishermen’s chapel in South Boston in order to pave the way for a 23-acre upscale urban neighborhood development project called “Seaport Square.”
New England’s iconic groundfish fishery is officially a federal disaster (although we’re still waiting on the check!), and the “Codfish State,” while remaining the Nation’s second most valuable fishery (behind Alaska), is fighting to keep working waterfronts working. Last week I covered the Maine Fishermen’s Forum in Rockport, Maine, where fishers and fishing industry folk talked a lot about how Gulf of Maine fisheries can compete in a U.S. seafood industry where more than 90% (95%+ by some estimates) of the seafood American eat is imported (and relatively cheap).
There are 49 countries represented on the floor this year at SENA15.
There is a lot about which to be at least apprehensive if not out-and-out depressed insofar as the seafood industry is concerned. As a writer who reports on fisheries at the intersection of science and sustainability, it’s easy to be pessimistic. But there is also hope and good stories to tell. The seafood industry is talking a lot about sustainability and traceability. While there is still much work to be done, a plethora of strategies and partnerships have moved the dial in the right direction, and I’m looking forward to reporting on some of those over the next three days. What will the bridge be connecting where we’ve been to where we will be? Perhaps we’ll get a glimpse at SENA15.
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