This year’s Seafood Expo North America (SENA), the largest seafood trade show in the States, was held at Massachusetts’ Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. From March 19th to 21st, 1,327 companies representing 51 countries showcased and promoted a myriad of seafood products inside 252,660 square-feet of exhibit space.
Considering that LA Auto Show and Hello Kitty Con were the last few expositions I attended, SENA’s scale and energy overwhelmed me, an industry newcomer. My attention was first drawn to cutesy, whimsical displays such as a freezer service’s giant polar bear mascot, an aquaculture developer’s barramundi tank, and a Norwegian seafood company’s loft lounge. By the second day I was able to re-focus and re-affirm just how piscivorous homo sapiens are. At a tuna tasting booth I conversed with three gentlemen from Sri Lanka, first about seafood, then about my plan of touring the island country’s immense tea plantations in the unforeseeable future; one of the older gentleman immediately handed a box of tea to me. Never in my imagination had I contemplated a tea-related encounter at a seafood expo! Six months had passed since I received the gift which remains unopened; the production and expiration dates are very clearly specified on the package; I have plenty of time to savor this Ceylon tea.
I arrived in Boston on March 17th, two days before the expo opened. Right after picking up my luggage, I stepped outside the airport to wait for the hotel shuttle. It must have not been two minutes before I hurried back indoor to take shelter from a scene that I could finally describe using the adjective “bleak.” My senses were attacked by trenchant wind that permeated my coat and two layers of sweaters, by mushy, soiled snow piles everywhere, and by a sky that reflected and summarized all the insipidity, stagnation on the ground. Shouldn’t I be on an Arctic expedition if I were to endure this harsh environment? A business associate was right when he said Boston would have been much prettier a month or two earlier. I wanted to ask SENA’s organizing entity how they concocted this combo: Boston and the month of March. Without doubt I would be told that this exhibition was once called the International Boston Seafood Show, and it ought to be held in Boston to preserve the 37-year-old tradition. After SENA 2017, I recommend anyone to visit Boston, especially in March, just to attend SENA 2018.