With the publicity surrounding our local shrimpers and the Blessing of the Fleet ceremonies, many of us are more than ready to welcome the arrival of local shrimp. Shrimp is so popular worldwide that we sometimes forget the other fish, crab and shellfish that contribute to the estimated $39 million industry in the state. We are fortunate to be in a place where residents and visitors can enjoy the variety and abundance of the ocean’s bounty.

There has been a lot of press over the past several years about challenges fishermen face, from high fuel costs to price pressure from imported seafood to regulations on the fisheries. These things are true, but fishermen are used to adversity and try to find ways to navigate the challenging waters of doing business with decreasing resources.

If you wonder what you can do to help your local fishing fleet, here are a few suggestions: Become an informed consumer. Read labels at the grocery store. Support legislation requiring accurate labeling of seafood. At a restaurant, ask where your shrimp or fish was harvested or ask which boat it came off of, and support those restaurants that demonstrate a commitment to locally harvested seafood from sustainable fisheries.

Buy locally, at your farmers market or at your local dock. Join a community-supported fishery. Understand that the price may seem higher than it was years ago, or than it is at the local big box store, but you are getting a far superior product, and you are supporting your community by buying local.

The Certified South Carolina program, run by the state Department of Agriculture, is a cooperative effort among producers, processors, wholesalers and retailers to brand and identify products made in South Carolina.

Consumers can look for the Certified South Carolina Seafood product logo in stores to support local producers and find the freshest seafood available. You can be part of the effort to keep South Carolina seafood in South Carolina.

Frank Blum

S.C. Seafood Alliance

Savannah Highway