Seafood aficionados have a new source for everything from Bristol Bay sockeye salmon to halibut, rockfish, black cod, live Dungeness crab and more at the Bellingham Dockside Market, where they can also meet harvesters who landed their dinner. The direct to consumer market at Bellingham is a result of the combined efforts of local fishermen, the Port of Bellingham and the Working Waterfront Coalition of Whatcom County.
“We talked about it for many years,” says Liz Purdy, executive director of Bellingham Seafeast, which had to cancel its plans for its 2020 festival this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead officials for the port and the Working Waterfront Coalition put together a steering committee to make the dockside market happen.
It began as a pilot program, with markets on Oct. 17, Oct. 24 and Oct. 31. Upcoming markets are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 14, and from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 24, Purdy said.
Everything offered by the fishermen – some of whom sell directly off their boats at Gate 5 – has been very popular, she said. Live Dungeness crab and oysters have sold out. There are also shoreside vendors at the top of the gate. Vendors are offering consumer education, including recipes to try, with each purchase. Fresh fish are sold in the round.
Each week has proven a little different, providing a variety of seafood and new harvesters to meet. Updates on the market are posted on www.bellinghamdockside.org.
Organizers are working closely with their local health department, who have recognized the market as an essential food service critical to the community.
“What I hear from all the people who come down, what stands out is that people love supporting their local producers,” Purdy said. “They want the business to stay local and to support them.”