By Marek Kulig
From Sea to Shore: Catchers of the Fish
In New Bedford, a renovated local favorite seafood market returns… but never left its vision to provide the community only the freshest fish.
It’s a good feeling to walk out of a seafood market with a bag full of bounty and smell the ocean air, or hear the waves against the shore, and to understand that a short walk down the harbor may bring into view the vessels that brought in the fresh catch. The Fisherman’s Market, located in New Bedford at 20 Blackmer Street, currently offers this kind of feeling…and walk.
After three and a half years hiatus, The Fisherman’s Market reopened on the last day of summer in 2017. Seasonally speaking, it may not have been the most fortuitous time to launch. Summer, according to the calendar, was literally ending, and weather conditions in the fall and winter can really hamper the fresh seafood industry.
But to Lars Vinjerud II, founder of The Fisherman’s Market parent company Fleet Fisheries (now doing business as Oceans Fleet Fisheries after merging with Oceans Alive Scallops in 2011), and market manager Eric Levasseur, it was about time they reopen.
“We want to make great seafood available to local people for a good price,” said Eric. Among his many duties is to ensure the market is suited to achieve this goal. Inside, the market is clean and cool, while more compact than its past iteration when customers could see employees descaling and working on fish on the spot. Now, customers can choose from an assortment of sea scallops, swordfish, monkfish, chowder bits, lobsters, and crabs.
Eric is aware of how other seafood markets are doing…and the prices they’re charging. “We have very competitive prices,” he contended. “Our store is in our facility. We’re built into the building, so there’s hardly any overhead, no middleman.”
The store is open Thursday through Saturday from 10am to 6pm, and in the spring Sunday 10am until 2pm is added to the schedule. A harsh cold, however, can tweak the availability of what the market has to offer. “Many factors determine the market price and selection of seafood,” Eric said. Among the most common is temperature. If it’s bitter cold, the boats stay in the harbor.
Regardless of circumstances beyond immediate control, though, Eric will not, under any condition, settle on selling anything but fresh. “We’ll run out of things, sure,” he conceded. “But I’d rather run out than sell something that’s not fresh.” Customers can always call ahead to see what varieties are available that day.
The holidays have kept The Fisherman’s Market busy, especially religious ones. “Lent is a big one around here,” said Eric. “You know, I think some people want a nice meal at home instead of going out.”
Eric also pointed out that people are becoming more interested in the origins of what they’re eating, who is procuring it, and how it’s being handled. It is called traceability, and the people over at The Fisherman’s Market are expert guides.
The Fisherman’s Market
20 Blackmer Street
New Bedford, MA 02744
Marek Kulig writes primarily from South Dartmouth, where finding a place to fish, or to get fresh fish, is often easier than, say, writing a poem about finding a place to fish, or a market that sells it equally fresh.