North Carolina Sea Grant

April 7, 2020 | Jane Harrison

Seafood isn’t the first staple people grab in a pandemic. Rice, beans and flour certainly have a longer shelf life. For those looking to add fresh seafood to the mix, though, there are plenty of local sources.

The North Carolina Fisheries Association and NC Catch have compiled a list of open seafood markets that sell North Carolina seafood. Markets like Seaview Crab Company in Wilmington, for example, typically have been open seven days a week.

I spoke with Winn Altman, a senior leader at Seaview Crab Company, about what they have available from North Carolina waters. He listed snowy grouper, snapper, speckled trout, sea mullet, croaker, blue crabs, and some shrimp.

Shrimp and broccoli stir-fry, from Mariner’s Menu. Photo by Vanda Lewis.

Through traditional supply chains, North Carolina fishermen sell the majority of their catch to restaurants. But that market share has been limited drastically with the advance of COVID-19. For example, Locals Seafood in Raleigh, a major seafood distributor in North Carolina’s Triangle region and beyond, lost 95% of its wholesale clients due to restaurant closures.

Ryan Speckman, co-founder of Locals Seafood, explained what elements of the seafood business are still viable. “We service nine different grocery store locations in the Triangle, like Whole Foods and Weaver Street Market. Another silver lining is our retail market at the State Farmers Market and selling seafood at the Chapel Hill and Western Wake farmers markets. We’ve also devised a home-delivery system to adapt to current conditions.”

Fishermen like Mark Hooper in Carteret County are working with the Walking Fish community-supported fishery (CSF) to sell their catch directly to consumers. He has had to make adjustments, as his sales used to be more diversified.

“We lost a very good hard crab market that was going to Virginia and Maryland restaurants, as well as soft crab sales to New York City,” Hooper said. “We hope to move product with the CSF as well as retail markets.”

Learn more about seafood availability in the northern and southern parts of North Carolina.

Under the CSF model, consumers pay a weekly or monthly share and receive seasonal seafood on a regular schedule. Walking Fish delivers to Raleigh and Durham and has sold out on its shares for spring 2020.

Fresh seafood is available and will be supplied if there is demand. If you want to buy fresh seafood and freeze it, read this article on North Carolina Sea Grant’s Mariner’s Menu blog. Mariner’s Menu includes hundreds of tested recipes, along with seafood preparation tips.

If you want to know what is available at this time of year, check out our seafood availability charts.

Personally, I just cooked up some North Carolina shrimp with fresh veggies in a stir-fry. It was delicious! If you have a similar hankering, try this shrimp and broccoli stir-fry recipe from Mariner’s Menu.

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