Consumers seeking North Carolina seafood can turn to new wallet-size reminders of their seasonal choices.

Local Catch: North Carolina Seafood AvailabilitySM cards, developed by North Carolina Sea Grant and the North Carolina Aquariums, debuted at the N.C. Seafood Festival in Morehead City in October. The cards were featured at the opening ceremonies and scooped up by visitors to the education tent.

“We were thrilled that we were able to provide the cards to assist with educating the guests of the opening ceremonies, as well as numerous festival attendees,” explains Stephanie McIntyre, festival executive director. “This is only one of the many missions of the N.C. Seafood Festival — to educate the public about seafood.”

The autumn, winter, spring and summer cards draw information from Sea Grant’s popular North Carolina Seafood Availability poster, which has been updated this fall. The poster is a partnership between Sea Grant, the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDACS).

Joanne Harcke of the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher approached Sea Grant earlier this year to suggest the card project. “Visitors to the three aquariums had questions about local seafood and best choices. We wanted to create a positive message for what North Carolina has to offer,” she explains.

Barry Nash, Sea Grant seafood technology and marketing specialist, notes the cards and posters help consumers increasingly interested in the origin of their seafood. “People want to know what species are available along the North Carolina coast and what season they are available,” he says. The cards highlight commercial fisheries by season, including shellfish aquaculture within in DMF marine fisheries landings. The cards also provide information on how and where North Carolina seafood is harvested.

Each season offers a different set of “Quality Counts” tips for selecting seasonal fresh seafood. “Consumers want to know how to look at seafood and evaluate its freshness,” Nash says.

Those who want more information on sustainable fisheries are sent to Web sites for updated information. DMF stock status reports are at, while federal efforts regarding sustainable fisheries are at

The Local Catch name builds upon the growing Carteret Catch program — — that links fishing, restaurant and seafood retail industries.

Looking for a seafood market or dealer? The cards and poster provide the online address for the NCDACS Seafood Marketing site — “These are great consumer education tools that complement the state’s ‘Freshness from North Carolina Waters’ campaign,” says William Small of the seafood marketing program. He is working with Sea Grant and DMF to distribute the cards and posters to seafood markets and other venues.

“In addition to letting consumers know what and when local seafood is available, the charts serve as a springboard for educating the public about fisheries management,” explains DMF Director Louis Daniel.

Download the Local Catch: North Carolina Seafood AvailabilitySM cards for Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn. To request a single season card or one set, or for information on bulk orders of the cards, contact or 919/515-9101.

This article was published in the Holiday 2007 issue of Coastwatch.

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