The one thing that blows Laura Anderson away every single day is that, whether she’s in town or out, people tell her the best meal they ever had was at her restaurant, Local Ocean Seafoods in Newport, Oregon.
“I was in Salem at a senate hearing a couple weeks ago to testify on funding for ocean science, research and monitoring to help Oregon better manage its fisheries” says Laura. “When the senators learned I was the owner of Local Ocean, many of them started to gush about the great meals they’ve enjoyed at my restaurant. Instead of getting questions about the bill, I kept getting accolades!”
Laura’s experience made her realize the importance of connecting to people through food. “I want to turn that experience of eating local seafood at my restaurant into stewardship and advocacy of our oceans,” she says. “If we don’t take care of our oceans, businesses like Local Ocean would cease to exist. I want people to understand that our restaurant is 100% dependent on a clean and healthy ocean.”
With the federal government proposing to open U.S waters to more drilling, Laura is bracing herself for what could happen to Local Ocean Seafood and thousands of other businesses along the coast of Oregon in the event of an oil spill. She is grateful that state lawmakers stepped up to defend Oregon’s working waterfronts with a new law to block drilling in state waters and prevent the development of new piers and pipelines needed to support drilling further offshore.
“I haven’t heard a single Oregonian say ‘that’s a good idea!’” says Laura, when asked how people in her community feel about the federal plan. “That’s regardless of political interest or business affiliation. It’s just not worth it. We have so much to lose in the event of that kind of activity going wrong.”
When you walk into Local Ocean Seafoods, an ever-changing board hangs on the wall detailing the fresh seafood catches of the day. Laura, the daughter of a commercial fisherman, prides herself on showcasing local seafood and buying directly from the boat. “We have relationships with over 50 different boats here in Newport,” explains Laura. “We always showcase where the seafood was caught and even the name of the fishing boat.”
Indeed, it’s a large part of Local Ocean Seafood’s identity, brand and name to provide fresh, local seafood. “That’s what people come here to eat,” explains Laura. “I can’t substitute a farmed salmon for a wild salmon at my restaurant. I want our representatives to understand that if we had an oil spill, I couldn’t continue to sell fresh fish and we would shut down. Simply put, they would never be able to eat a great meal at Local Ocean again.”