Faces of U.S. Seafood: Q&A w/ Kinsey Justa

Kinsey-Justa-fisherwoman

Buying wild-caught American seafood makes a difference to the economy and your health. The Partners of Commercial Fishermen (PCF) promote awareness by sharing their lives in and around the industry. Together, we are the faces behind each catch.

“…If only we had celebrated a little less on New Year’s Eve and had paid more attention to a report from Wuhan, China where officials were investigating a suspicious cluster of respiratory cases apparently tied to a seafood market.*

“The story remained mostly offshore until Jan. 30 – less than a week after Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash – when the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency. Even then, few experts were predicting the ways in which public life across our city, state and country would grind to a halt, changing our lives and our way of life.”

Norman Pearlstine
Executive Editor
Los Angeles Times
(*Later reports show this may not be true.)

The thing is, domestic fishermen and their families saw the effects of the coronavirus WAY before it hit U.S. soil.

Lobster is the centerpiece for Chinese New Year celebrations, representing strength and good luck. So, when the Chinese government shut down public gatherings during that time, as a partner of a California lobster fisherman, we felt it immediately.  

With cancelations nationwide, our lobster fishermen lost foreign buyers and scrambled to find new ones in the U.S. 

The domestic market became flooded, prices dropped, and fishermen and their families suffered. 

This series shares real stories of partners of commercial fishermen (or PCF) to give insight on what it’s like for fishermen and their families. But with our next interviewee, you get both a partner and a fisherwoman.

Meet Kinsey Justa:

Kinsey-Justa-fisherwoman

Who is your Fisherman?

Ezekiel Brown

Where does he fish?

Copper River and Prince William Sound, Alaska.

What’s the name of his boat and what does he fish?

F/V Lucid Dream (56′ seiner) for shrimp, crab, salmon

F/V Cape Fear (32′ Bowpicker) for salmon. 

(F/V = Fishing Vessel)

How long have you been together?

4 years 

Kinsey-Justa-fisherwoman

Have you had experience with the fishing industry before you got together? If so, in what way?

Yes, I have completed grant-funded research during my undergrad studying small fishing communities and am currently preparing graduate research along the same lines. In Alaska specifically, I have worked with the marketing of wild seafood as Programs Coordinator for the Copper River Salmon brand and gained experience in sales as Global Markets Manager for 60° North Seafoods, a fishermen-owned processing facility.

This past year, I held a commercial crewmember license and crewed aboard the F/V Lucid Dream harvesting spot prawns and tanner crab. 

Kinsey-Justa-fisherwoman

What tips can you share with others navigating this PCF life?

Being a partner of a commercial fisherman is literally a labor of love.

Even if you don’t work as crew aboard the boat, you may find that one of the ways you can best spend time together is to lend a helping hand with whatever project is in progress. Learn a bit about the fishery they are involved in if, for no other reason, to be a good listener when they want to talk about their day.  

To run a commercial fishing business is an all consuming lifestyle.

When you are in a committed relationship with a fisherman, you have to make an intentional choice to be a part of, appreciate, and contribute to that.

Sometimes you don’t realize how much your actions have an effect on the whole business. Offering to help mend a net or sending them out on the water with a baked treat from home can make a fishermen’s whole day. 

What is the hardest part for you?

It takes a while to learn how to navigate the dynamic of your partner being your captain. It takes a lot of trust and respect on both ends of that working relationship. 

What’s the most fun?

Learning new machinery and skills. How to make all the parts move together to create a whole working operation. 

Kinsey-Justa-fisherwoman
Photo by David Olsen

What does being a PCF mean to you? 

Commercial fisheries produce food – real, wild, American food. Partners of commercial fishermen can contribute to the production of that food with both physical and emotional labor.

I believe that our fishing communities uphold a responsibility to produce some of the best, most sustainable protein in the world. We do so with passion. It means a great deal to me to be involved in a small business that feeds people. 

How can others support our domestic seafood market?

Eat more fish! Know where your seafood comes from and, when you can, buy as local as possible.

It’s also important to educate yourself on issues that affect wild fish habitat and policies that affect food producers. 🐟

What’s your favorite wild-caught seafood to eat? Do you have any questions about U.S seafood? If so, please share in the comments below!

IF your loved one is a fisherman, JOIN THE PRIVATE GROUP, PARTNERS OF COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN HERE!

PARTNERS-COMMERCIAL-FISHERMEN

In Case You Missed It:

Faces Behind U.S. Seafood: Q&A w/ Savanah Lisherness

HOW-TO LONG-DISTANCE DATE A COMMERCIAL FISHERMAN

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