Fishermen Donating Up To 20,000 Pounds Of Fish To St. Petersburg Free Clinic
The Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders' Alliance partnered with the Wild Seafood Company to donate freshly caught fish to a Tampa area free clinic.
Thanks to about 40 local fishermen, the St. Petersburg Free Clinic is providing fresh, sustainably caught fish to families affected by COVID-19.
The Catch Together program is funding the effort through the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance. The alliance partnered with the Wild Seafood Company in Madeira Beach to bring up to 20,000 pounds of fresh grouper and snapper to the clinic.
About 70% of grouper caught in the U.S. comes from John’s Pass Village in Madeira Beach.
The closure of restaurants due to COVID-19 has taken a toll on the commercial fishing industry. Catch Together’s grant provides some relief to support and promote commercial fishing during the pandemic.
The alliance’s Erin Grebenev said the program fully pays for the fishermen's catch to be processed.
“It's a vital industry and it's been severely affected by COVID since most seafood is eaten in restaurants. It was a way to keep fishermen fishing, and then also give back to the community,” said Grebenev.
That community served by the St. Petersburg Free Clinic has grown during the pandemic.
The clinic used to see about 100 families per day, but that number has increased to about 350 per day.
People are able to go to the clinic’s Facebook page to see when drive-through pantry times are or to be updated on the latest catch.
Donated fish will be tagged by the alliance so that families are able to track where and when their fish was sustainably caught.
So far, the Wild Seafood Company has processed about 5,000 pounds of fish for the project. The grant will last until March or until they add another 15,000 pounds.