It wasn’t that long ago that the Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery was on the brink of collapse. The fishermen were stuck in a race-for-fish that was both dangerous and expensive.
Fishermen were going out of business or barely hanging on, and the red snapper population was in serious trouble. The out-dated fishery management system wasn’t working, and consumers could only count on getting fresh, local snapper during a brief season every year. That was until a group of commercial fishermen and EDF came together to find a solution.
That solution – the red snapper catch share program – began in 2007. Because this program proved successful almost immediately, fishermen were able to expand the program to include grouper and tilefish in 2010. This has helped to make commercial fishing a viable industry again, consumers are able to get fish they love year-round, the amount of wasted fish has dramatically decreased, and once depleted populations are steadily rebuilding.
In response to the BP oil disaster, in 2010 these fishermen and EDF came together again to create Gulf Wild™, a new marketing program for Gulf red snapper, grouper and tilefish. The Gulf Wild™ brand provides consumers with a responsibly caught fish that is safety-tested and guaranteed to be from the Gulf of Mexico.
A compelling part of Gulf Wild™ is that each fish comes with a tracking number and tag that tells you who caught the fish, where it was caught, and even where it was sold. Gulf Wild™ has been growing in popularity since it launched in 2011 and is available in groceries and restaurants across the country.
As a Texan, born and raised, I’m proud to say that Gulf Wild™ seafood is now available at a growing number of H-E-B and Central Market locations across the state. To those reading this who are not lucky enough to be from Texas, that’s a big deal. H-E-B is deeply rooted in our community and as much a part of our culture as cowboys and longhorn cattle. Moreover, it is one of the largest supermarket chains in the country.
It’s been quite a journey for the fishermen who came together years ago and battled back from the dark days of derby-style fishing to being highlighted in the seafood case of stores like H-E-B.
Stories like this can often go overlooked. As we pass through our grocery store, we may not notice what fish are there one month and gone the next. What Texans and a growing number of consumers are now seeing are responsibly-caught, authentic red snapper and grouper from the Gulf of Mexico. Take a moment to learn the story of how that fish came to be in your store and how you will know it will be there for years to come.
EDF is proud to be a part of that story and even more proud that an industry-leading company like H-E-B, is now a part of it too.