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Point of View: Spread the word: Seafood is good for you
By Peter Flournoy
April 01, 2008
Almost anything that concerns ocean fisheries today has been
so politicized and distorted by huge globs of money from well
meaning foundations and organizations concerned with the ocean
environment that the voice of the fisherman, who depends on the
ocean's resources, is very hard to hear.
So what do you do when your healthy, flavorful, omega-3-rich
seafood product is the best, but everyone from the federal
government to your local doctor is slamming it?
First, with the advent of the Internet, almost every media
outlet has a "blog" Web site or a place where you can post
comments. You don't even need a stamp. If you're a fisherman,
you can even do it from your boat. When you see something
outlandish in a
local newspaper or hear something nuts on a
radio or TV news show, politely call it to their attention and
give them the right information based on your experience as a
fisherman or seafood professional.
Second, join an organization made up of other fishermen
and/or seafood marketers, which hopefully collects dues and has
a person who watches the media and can react to it with the
facts. Or don't join, but send them money for their public
education campaign - it is probably tax deductible.
For example, the Western Fishboat Owners Association (WFOA),
an organization of West Coast albacore troll and bait-boat
fishermen, has a public education fund that many members
voluntarily contribute to because they are getting so sick of
all the misinformation and they want to do something about
WFOA has informational Web sites, www.albatuna.co m and
wfoa-tuna.org/health, where anyone can go, even reporters, to
learn the facts about West Coast albacore, including its
nutritional benefits. Did you know there's research that shows
the selenium found in ocean fish neutralizes the methylmercury
also found in fish? The site also has links to reliable
informational sites, such as the newly relaunched National
Marine Fisheries Service's FishWatch site,
WFOA directors and members watch their local newspapers,
magazines and TV news shows when they are in port, and their
spouses and children do the same when the boat is out. They
take 10 or 15 minutes to write and send a correction, if
necessary. Often, the next time there is a story about seafood,
they get the call from a reporter for a comment from a real
person, not a public-relations firm or some other mouthpiece.
Talking to your neighbor, your child's teacher or your spouse's
doctor about seafood's healthful benefits doesn't hurt,
Americans are eating more seafood every year, yet the
percentage of fish consumed in the United States from American
fishermen is now less than 25 percent. If we haven't reached
the point of no return or the tipping point for American
fishermen, we are very close.
It's time to emphasize the positive features of your product
and make your voice heard.
Peter Flournoy is an attorney with the International Law
Offices of San Diego, which represents the Western Fishboat