Unable to sell a 1,000-pound catch of fluke last week, Capt. Chuck Morici of the dragger Act 1 spent three days filleting the fish at Montauk commercial dock and offering it for free straight from his boat. On Saturday morning, he gave it away from the back of his pickup truck in downtown Montauk, a big handwritten sign announcing, “Free Fish.”
In a normal year, the religious period of Lent, when many people give up eating meat, tends to drive up seafood demand and prices. But the global COVID-19 pandemic has thrown normal to the wind.
In addition to the closure of most domestic restaurants, foreign markets such as Spain and Italy, which before the pandemic were historically large buyers of squid landed on the East End, for example, have stopped all imports. As a result, many fish buyers have implored fishermen to stay ashore.
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