Around New England

Most Rhode Island Calamari Processed In China Then Sent Back Home

July 6, 2020

There is a thriving calamari industry in Rhode Island, but it could be more local.

Fishermen in the state catch more than 22 million pounds of squid each year, worth around $28 million annually. However, most of it is not eaten fresh. Rather, about 80 percent of the squid is frozen, loaded onto trucks and shipping containers, sent to China, processed when unfrozen, then frozen again and sent back to the Ocean State, as The Westerly Sun reports.

It’s done this way to cut labor costs, but Diane Lync, the chairman of the Rhode Island Food Policy Council, wants that to change. She wants the seafood industry in Rhode Island to be self-sufficient and environmentally sustainable — something she says wasn’t on the minds of most people 25 years ago but is prominent today.

“People are starting to understand that food sourced in other countries is not necessarily regulated and as safe as the food sources in the United States,” Lunch told The Westerly Sun. “So when there are supply disruptions and plants get closed down and toxic materials get found in food samples, people don’t want to buy from that source, and that’s part of what’s happening, too.”

If plants in Rhode Island processed additional calamari, they could create more jobs domestically in the industry.

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