PUNTA GORDA, Fla. — Florida is known for its fishing but some of the bite in the Gulf is taking a hit from over fishing.
According to the NOAA’s fishery stock report, four fish local to Southwest Florida are listed as threatened. But that hasn’t stopped this year’s Punta Gorda Seafood Festival.
"We got crab, we got shrimp, lobster- you name it, we’ve got it!”
On the beautiful shores of Laishley Park, the food is cooking.
"Punta Gorda is just a beautiful, beautiful area," says Ron Soto, CFO for Paragon Festivals. “First of all we’re right here on the river, you’ve got the Gulf of Mexico right there, this says seafood! So come on out, enjoy it, and have a little nibble to eat.”
Some of those offering up a little nibble were those with HammerHeads catering.
“The only advice that I will give you is if you can’t see it prepared in front of you then it might be compromised," says Sandy Thomas, co-owner of HammerHeads. "I mean, what makes ours good is we cook it fresh, little by little and often all day long.”
One of HammerHeads hot ticket items are none other than their shrimp and grits.
"It can change in a minute- I mean, it really can," says Thomas. "One day the bouillabaisse is selling and the next minute it’s not so you cook less and then everyone wants it. So it is basically all based on demand.”
Supply and demand that seems to be even more instrumental now more than ever. As certain restrictions exist on what can and can’t be caught.
"There’s all kinds of laws now protecting those fish," says Soto. "But yeah, when the groupers used to be like this- now they’re a little bit like that. But it’s all good.”
It may be changing what chefs are serving up, but that certainly hasn’t put a damper on the spirits of the clientele.
“I mean when you’re dealing with a lot of good fish, it’s very expensive to buy and if people aren’t buying it then you end up throwing it away," said Thomas. "So I’d rather just stick with something I know people are going to buy and want.”
“And that’s the shrimp and grits?”
"Yup," says Thomas. "Shrimp and grits all day long.”