For supper tonight…..dogfish???
It used to be simple – we ate what was in season, that we grew or caught ourselves. Rural communities like ours shared these commodities through local markets – and mostly, we ate pretty local all year round. Sure, Chesapeake oysters were shipped all over the country, but ask your neighborhood long-timer, and you’ll hear that around here, oysters were a wintertime staple – on everyone’s plate 4-5 days each week.
Yet in today’s food chain, there’s a broad space between what comes off fishing boats and what ends up on dinner plates. Plenty of our local catch is sent off Delmarva and southern MD peninsulas, up the coasts to the megalopolis. Today’s families eat more chicken nuggets, burgers and prepared foods from Giant than ever, and oysters are a rare holiday treat.
The state of the oyster population in Chesapeake waters is no secret, and we know that Maryland watermen are having a rough go at it. But there are plenty of healthy populations of fish being caught. Just…..the wrong kinds of fish. Or…are they?
Enter the space in which fisheries marketing is born.
In Maryland, that means Steve Vilnit, who is in the center of both fishing and seafood industries. As the Director of Fisheries Marketing for the Department of Natural Resources, his job is to create demand and markets for Maryland fish. With a degree in “Marine Affairs” and a background importing swordfish and tuna, Vilnit has connections and experience in the food industry. He knows chefs, restaurant kitchens, and spent ten years selling fish wholesale across the region.