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Point of View: Spread the word: Seafood is good for you

Property of SeaFood Business magazine
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 it.

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, www.nmfs.noaa.gov/fishwatch.

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, either.

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 Owners Association



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