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Huge Seafood Storage Unit Gets Go-ahead

US - A decade-old plan to build a state-owned centralized seafood storage and shipping facility to help local watermen and aquaculturists market their products should become a reality within two years, after the General Assembly this spring approved issuing bonds to fund construction of the $5.4 million project.

"When the money becomes available, we'll be ready," said Secretary of Agriculture Robert S. Bloxom last week. According to Delmarva Now, Bloxom has belonged to a task force created to work towards getting the market built for years.

Delmarva now says that the 39,000-square-foot Eastern Shore Seafood Market will be built next to the Eastern Shore Farmers Market on state-owned land in Melfa and will include warehouse storage, coolers and two blast freezers -- used to quickly freeze seafood when the catch is abundant so it can be sold later when the price is higher.

The blast freezers are "the heart of the thing," said Eastern Shore Farmers Market General Manager Jim Stern last week.

In addition to helping watermen get a better price for their catch, the freezers will enable net fishermen to salvage their substantial by-catch -- species that get caught accidentally in the nets and are now generally discarded overboard. With the blast freezer, those fish, such as menhaden, can be saved and marketed as bait to sport fishermen and crabbers, providing an additional source of revenue.

Ellen Hardy

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