MADEIRA BEACH, Fla. - A group of commercial Florida fishermen on Monday announced a new partnership with a Tampa-area non-profit to deliver fresh, sustainably caught fish to families dealing with the economic fallout created by COVID-19.
According a news release from the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance, over the next few months, as many as 40 commercial fishermen in Madeira Beach will offload up to 20,000 pounds of red grouper and red snapper. With the help of several area businesses, the fish will then be donated to St. Petersburg Free Clinic for distribution to the organizations and individuals it serves.
“We’ve been part of this community for our entire lives and we take pride in our work,” said Bobby Carter, a Madeira Beach commercial fisherman. “It’s important to look out for each other and to give back in times of need.”
The fish will arrive at Don’s Dock where it will be offloaded by Wild Seafood Co., processed by Evan’s Meats and Seafood, and then donated to the St. Petersburg Free Clinic. The clinic is a multi-service, independent, human services agency providing Floridians assistance with food, shelter, and health care.
"Since the onset of the pandemic, we’ve been serving at times up to triple the number of families we typically support,” said Jennifer Yeagley, CEO of St. Petersburg Free Clinic. “Half of these households have never had to visit a food pantry prior to COVID-19. So we are very grateful to the local fishing captains and these businesses all working together to provide sustainable, local seafood to our neighbors in need."
Organizers said the fish donated through the program will be tagged with the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance Gulf WildTM tags. These tags allow families to track the fish’s journey from boat-to-plate and to enjoy their meal knowing the fish were harvested under some of the strictest conservation guidelines in the Gulf.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to bring our local fishermen and the community together, especially during these difficult times,” said Erin Grebenev, Local Program Lead for the program and Deck Boss at Wild Seafood Co. “I look forward to seeing this program continue to grow in the months ahead.”
The partnership is overseen by the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders' Alliance, the largest organization of commercial grouper and snapper fishermen in the Gulf. The program is supported by Catch Together, a nonprofit which raises funds to strengthen fishing communities and fishermen across the country who prioritize sustainable fishing practices. Catch Together is supporting similar efforts in other regions including Alaska, Maine, Cape Cod, and Martha’s Vineyard.