Hi friends, my name is Feini Yin (they/them), and I recently joined the NAMA team as the new media coordinator. I’m writing to say hi and share a bit about myself! I live in Philly, which is ancestral Lenni Lenape territory. My path has been winding, and I’ve worked in journalism, marine ecology, and community organizing. I’m excited to integrate these varied experiences to support NAMA’s network and mission.
I’ve been lucky to have a connection to fish all my life. My parents are from rural China, where my extended family practices small-scale and subsistence vegetable and fish farming. In our immigrant household, we ate fish every week (a symbol of luck in Chinese culture), usually steamed whole with soy sauce and lots of aromatics. I loved when fish was on the table and would always try to snatch the eyeballs to suck on!
Later, as a marine ecologist, I spent time in Indonesia learning about mangroves from a community of Sama sea nomads, whose lives revolved around fish and being on the water. As a journalist, I had the opportunity to visit members of a Yurok community, who generously shared salmon meals with me. These experiences offered glimpses of how profoundly important fish are as a source of food, culture, and belonging for so many.
In my twenties, feeling homesick, I started to practice cooking seafood as a way to recreate family dishes and connect with my heritage. That led me to become a customer, and eventually staff member, of Fishadelphia, a community supported fishery that buys fish from small-scale harvesters in New Jersey and brings it to economically and culturally diverse consumers in Philly. We work with local high schoolers and prioritize inclusion, particularly of low-income people of color in the city.
Engaging with our customer base, I’ve come to further understand how many people of color and immigrants have deep and varied cultural knowledge about how to prepare all kinds of seafood. They know how to break down whole fish in their home kitchen, make use of all parts of the fish, and are undaunted by underutilized species, like monkfish, dogfish, or skate. In many ways, they hold knowledge and solutions of how consumers can adapt as our oceans change and species abundances shift.
Yet the direct connections many people of color have historically had with fishing have been severed, whether through migration (often forced), redlining, coastal gentrification, or other instances of structural oppression. Especially in cities like Philly, it can be easy for people to feel disconnected from fishing and fishermen in their local waters today, even if seafood is a big part of their cultural traditions.
That’s why I’m proud to be part of NAMA’s efforts to build an intersectional movement, which recognizes that racial and food justice are not separate from building resilient fishing communities and healthy fisheries. Fisheries work needs to happen in coalition and conversation with other racial and social justice work, and vice versa. The private equity firms and billionaire investors that are taking over fisheries through catch share systems — which you can read about below — are the same predatory forces that are making it difficult for people to afford adequate housing and healthcare. Our struggles are interconnected, and so is our liberation.
If you ever have leads for news stories or op-eds, please get in touch! You can find me at email@example.com.
P.S. I recently visited a great exhibit by Nina Chanel Abney at the Gordon Parks Foundation in Pleasantville, NY. Gordon Parks was a Black photographer who documented the fishing industry in Gloucester, Massachusetts in the 1940s. Inspired by, and in response to, these photos, Abney imagines the Black fishery workers of the time whose contributions were often made invisible. Her vivid collages celebrate the cultural legacy of Black commercial fishermen and draw attention to the redlining, environmental racism, and other systemic forces that have pushed many out of the industry.