Experience Local Washington Seafood in Bellingham
Live in or just love to visit Bellingham? If you’ve eaten at one of the many restaurants in downtown Bellingham and tried a dish featuring fresh local Washington seafood, chances are it came through the Port of Bellingham and that WDFW’s local team had a hand in ensuring the sustainability of that bounty.
Bellingham’s waterfront extends throughout the city, from historic Fairhaven, to the new Waypoint Park, and down to the busy Squalicum Harbor. It has a way of connecting the city and its residents to Bellingham’s rich cultural heritage. Bellingham’s working waterfront helps support more than 7,000 jobs in in the commercial seafood and maritime industry, which has been a cornerstone of Whatcom County for well over a century.
Bellingham also houses the largest cold storage facility on the West Coast. That means that fish from Washington and distant waters may have arrived here at Bellingham Cold Storage before it hit your plate.
Upon returning from their voyages, one of the first people that vessel crews likely encountered were one of WDFW’s Bellingham-based monitoring staff members. This team collects catch and biological data, including length, weight, sex, maturity, and aging indicators. It’s one of the ways WDFW works with the commercial fishing industry to ensure sustainable levels of harvest from Washington waters.
“The Port of Bellingham has long-recognized the important role that commercial fishermen and the working waterfront have in Whatcom County,” said Kyle Randolph, Bellingham Harbormaster. “This vital industry touches the lives of nearly every resident in ways ranging from job creation to the food we put on our tables. The Port proudly supports our commercial fishers by providing the resources, infrastructure and access they need to maintain their fleets and sell their products…to ensure the commercial fishing industry will be supported long into the future.”
Dock to Table
The Port of Bellingham, in partnership with many local commercial fishermen, the Working Waterfront Coalition, Whatcom County Health Department, and Bellingham SeaFeast, are rolling out another option for folks to experience locally harvested seafood this fall with Bellingham Dockside Market.
Bellingham Dockside Market, launching this Saturday, Oct. 17, at Squalicum Harbor, provides a coordinated effort for fishermen to sell directly from either their boats or in shoreside pop-ups. The market aims to connect community members with local fishermen, to establish relationships, and provide opportunities to learn about how and where our seafood is harvested, how to handle it properly, and to prepare this immune-boosting protein source for home-cooked meals.
“The stars have aligned for off-the-boat seafood sales, and the Working Waterfront Coalition now finds valuable partners for this effort in the Port of Bellingham and Bellingham SeaFeast Festival,” said Jim Kyle, Whatcom Working Waterfront president. “With seafood markets in turmoil, our fledgling Bellingham Dockside Market will allow local residents to purchase lower-priced, high quality seafood directly from commercial fishers. A win-win for the public and our fisher people, not to mention our taste buds and our health!”
“The Port recognizes that our local commercial fishermen are navigating new challenges at the same time consumers are shifting to respond to changing economic circumstances,” said Rob Fix, Port of Bellingham Executive Director. “We want to welcome people to our harbor with these direct seafood sales and see people leaving the dock with their locally sourced dinner in hand.”
“Since 2016, Bellingham SeaFeast has brought thousands of people to our harbor for a fun, educational weekend festival,” said Bellingham SeaFeast Executive Director, Liz Purdy. “Now without being able to gather for our traditional celebration, we’re thrilled to collaborate again with our waterfront partners to continue getting delicious seafood, and the ‘sea-to-plate’ story, out to our community.”
Get a glimpse into Bellingham’s commercial fishing legacy and maritime industry with this video below from Bellingham SeaFeast, Servants of the Salish Sea. Started in 2016, Bellingham SeaFeast is an annual waterfront & seafood festival that highlights Bellingham’s rich maritime culture and heritage, working waterfront, commercial fishing and seafood industries, and the culinary bounty of our corner of the Pacific Northwest.
Celebrate Seafood Month This October
Bellingham is just one of a handful of maritime communities the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Washington Sea Grant have joined up to highlight this Seafood Month, which celebrates Washingtonians’ access to in-season local Washington seafood, from shrimp, crab, and salmon to halibut, tuna, and other fish and shellfish.
When you enjoy local Washington seafood, you help to support the Pacific Northwest’s commercial seafood industry, which puts 102, 476 to work in living-wage jobs and provides a $11.2 million boost in sales to the economy.
And it’s a choice you can feel good about, as the state uses stringent science-based monitoring and oversight to keep sustainable seafood on the menu — and your table — for years to come. Look or ask for seafood labeled with Washington origins in your local market. (All seafood sold in our state is required to label from where it was harvested).
Not in Bellingham, but still want to taste all that Washington has to offer? Plan a visit or find local Washington seafood near you with the help of Local Catch, a network of supported fisheries and small-scale harvesters.
Learn more at wdfw.wa.gov/LocalWASeafood