There is a growing movement whereby consumers are able to purchase fresh seafood directly from those who catch it. Fishermen and shrimpers benefit financially from the direct transaction, which eliminates middlemen who pay them a lower price for their products, while consumers are assured the freshest seafood at a lower cost than they would pay at a market.
Two of the visible facilitators of the practice are Mindy Nunez, founder of Islenos Seafood Direct and Thomas Hymel, director of Delcambre Direct Seafood Market. Nunez’ company allows consumers to sign up for seafood “packages” and get a certain dollar amount of whatever’s freshest delivered to them statewide every week by Nunez, who collects daily catches from docks in Ycloskey, Reggio and Delacroix. Delcambre Direct enables consumers to contact providers directly to purchase their catch, primarily from the South Pier at the Port of Delcambre.
Mindy Nunez, a St. Bernard parish native, who saw her family of commercial fishermen lose everything in Hurricane Katrina, traded her lucrative career as a Chicago-based trial attorney to return to Louisiana and work in the seafood industry. Her bold move was prompted when she witnessed again their suffering following the BP Oil Spill.
“Buying directly from the fisherman supports the industry and ensures quality,” Nunez said. “It (also) creates community conscience, a relationship, and a connection.”
Delcambre Direct was established by the Twin Parish Port Commission in partnership with the LSU AgCenter and Sea Grant. On the company’s website local fishermen’s profiles are listed by species. Consumers select the species of seafood they want, then contact the fishermen with their orders, preferably in advance of the provider’s outing to make a harvest. Consumers can also select “Fresh Catch” messages on the site to see reports directly from fishermen with extra product to sell.
“This concept has really taken off and we want to expand it across the Louisiana coast, said Hymel. “The Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission has awarded a $560,000 grant to launch new direct marketing programs for fishing communities in three other regions — Cameron Parish, Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes, and the New Orleans area.“ The new marketing programs should be up and running by the spring 2012 shrimp season.