How the coronavirus pandemic is affecting the local fishing industry

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MURRELLS INLET, SC (WBTW) – Local fishermen and commercial fishing companies are having to change their approach during the coronavirus pandemic as restaurant dining rooms are closed across the state.

Dylan Foster owns Wicked Inlet Seafood and is responsible for the fish that comes off ten boats in Murrells Inlet.

Fishermen dock their boats, unload the fish and Foster takes it from there.

Up until last week, we sold to wholesale markets up and down the east coast as well as restaurants up and down the grand strand area, but obviously with everything happening now, we’re selling directly to the public as well as to grocery stores and to the things that are still open,” Foster explained.

Wicked Inlet Seafood is selling directly to the public through dock sales, drive up sales and even delivering to homes in some cases.

Foster says to survive a time like this, small business owners are having to innovate.
“You have to pivot and still support your people,” Foster said. “I have 15 families that rely on me on a daily basis for their income, so if I drop the ball that’s 15 families that are going to suffer.”

Even though these fish sales are in-person, Foster says they are maintaining social distance and doing everything they can to keep the community and their employees safe.

“The community has really stepped up and shown us a ton of support,” Foster said. “We’re gonna do our part to keep everybody as safe as we can; we’re gonna do our part to keep all of our families employed and we’re gonna keep our fishermen fishing.”

Foster says they are doing their best to turn a negative situation into a positive one. He says he and his wife try to make a point for people to get to know their fishermen and know where their food is coming from.

“Every invoice that we give out has the name of the boat, the name of the captain, links to our Facebook and videos of unloads with the fish coming in,” Foster said. “Now when the public is coming down and buying the fish direct, and the actual fisherman who caught that fish, cut it and filet it for them, they are able to stand there on the docks, and meet them face-to-face and talk to them about the stories, and the struggles and the hardships that they face everyday.”

Struggles Foster says fishermen are no stranger to.

“The North American fishing industry is a group of the strongest men and women you will ever find,” Foster explained. “We deal with hurricanes, government regulations and the ocean beating us up and taking lives, and destroying equipment,” Foster said.

Weather permitting, Foster says they plan to host their next dock sale on Friday (April 3) on the Murrells Inlet Marshwalk near Wicked Tuna.

For more information about Wicked Inlet Seafood, click here or visit their Facebook page.

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