A nonprofit based in Newport has been awarded a $477,000 federal grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Local Agriculture Market Program to re-localize seafood.
The Central Coast Food Web was the brainchild of Laura Anderson, who founded Local Ocean Seafoods restaurant, and Kristin Penner. Co-Executive Director Sara O’Neill said about 90% of the seafood consumed in Oregon does not originate in the state.
She said their goal is to change the current infrastructure and marketing channels to help make local seafood local again.
“Our seafood, which is reaching some of the highest sustainability standards in the world, is actually sold to a commodity market,” she told KLCC. “We export a lot of seafood to distant markets and then we import seafood from other distant domestic, but often international, markets.”
O’Neill said keeping more seafood in Oregon would also decrease the amount of fuel used to ship food elsewhere.
“We really do burn a lot of fuel shipping food around,” she said. “So we see that there’s an environmental cost to our global commodity food system and we’re interested in interrupting that.”
O’Neill said the grant will allow them to hire a Blue Foods coordinator. Blue Foods, she said, is a term used by the United Nations and others to describe the dense forms of protein found in the ocean that can feed a lot of people and be sustainably harvested. She said their coordinator will help establish more robust regional systems, from off-loading local seafood to processing and distributing it.