NEWPORT, Ore. - A Newport restaurant and market known for its strong connections to local fisheries has been named the Orange Spotlight Award Winner for January by Oregon State University. Local Ocean Seafoods is co-owned and operated by Oregon State alumna Laura Anderson.

The Orange Spotlight highlights businesses and organizations either operated by OSU alums and faculty or who employ a large number of Oregon State graduates. These businesses demonstrate a dedication to community service, sustainability and innovation.

Anderson, the daughter of a fisherman, grew up in the small fishing town of Westport on the Washington coast. She received a master's degree in marine resource management from OSU, deepened her connection to local fisheries. Anderson is dedicated to educating her customers about sustainable fisheries, so that they become more aware of ocean issues.

"Hopefully customers walk away not with just a full belly, but with some appreciation of this working waterfront and the industry in terms of realizing that nourishing seafood and a healthy seafood experience comes from these boats over here," Anderson said. "Without the collective knowledge of that entire fleet, we wouldn't have those experiences."

Nearly all of the fish on Local Ocean's menu come from the fishing boats that dock in Yaquina Bay across the street from the restaurant. She makes sure she buys from boats that fish sustainably.

Each season, Anderson takes customers for "dock walks," during which they can talk to local fishermen and learn about the gear they use, their day-to-day working lives, and the social and political challenges they face. In Local Ocean's five-year history, Anderson has sent more than 1,000 people down to the docks to learn from fishermen.

Anderson has testified before Congressional subcommittees and the Department of the Interior. She was instrumental in building the Port Orford Ocean Resource Team, a nationally recognized NGO that supports community-based management and helped Port Orford become one of two communities in Oregon to designate a marine reserve area. Last year she served on the Oregon Nearshore Research Task Force the legislature put together to look at how to advance research in the state and region.

Oregon State is where Anderson started to make the connections that made her an active voice for the fishing community.

"The biggest value of the marine resource management program for me was in the relationships and network you build through working with major professors and people you're introduced to," Anderson said.

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Laura Anderson, 541-574-7959