The “Brightside” of Seafood: A new market’s journey to change the way we buy, and eat, seafood

Photo via Brightside Seafood.

A fishing boat rests in the middle of the Atlantic. It sways like a piece of driftwood under the heat of the summer sun. The ocean stretches towards the blue horizon, wrapping its curving arms around the earth. The air is tranquil, still for the squawking of gulls and the gentle lapping of water against the boat’s steel hull. The fishing dragger begins hauling up its catch, cracking the silence. Fish start hitting the deck, their tails beating angrily against the metal floor. People in heavy boots run around, reeling the nets in, dumping them out, throwing the fish where they need to be. They begin to filet them so the meat stays fresh. One of the fishermen, Mike Lapierre, joins the madness, until he sees a coworker grab a yellowtail flounder. The coworker deftly filets the dark side of it, throwing the rest of the carcass — its edible, bright-sided underbelly — into the unforgiving mouth of the sea. Lapierre usually helps with this process, but he stops to reflect: Why are we wasting half of the fish?


The attitude of questioning, of always trying to do better, by the fish and for the environment, is something Lapierre has carried into the mission statement of his business, Brightside Seafood. His revelation came while working on the dragger because people wouldn’t dare filet the bright side of the flounder — the skin was too thin and you’d likely injure yourself if you moved too fast. To Lapierre, this is a metaphor of the fishing industry as a whole, explaining, “90% of the fish in this country come from somewhere else. The dark side is the slave labor, or people that work for pennies on the dollar in Ecuador. There is no dark side to my market, I take the time to sell only local stuff that is nice and fresh.”

Brightside Seafood opened in November of 2023 in Narragansett, and has a refreshing and committed cast of characters behind it. Lapierre, the owner, wrangled up Meg Fleming to help him out, and the two spend their days chasing down the locally caught seafood, selling fish, and drinking beer. Fleming, who has a culinary background, recalls her meeting with Lapierre after moving back to RI after traveling the world for four months, “I was walking my dog past this market. I called Mike and was like ‘Hey, I need a job, I’m a fishmonger.’ I worked one farmers market with him, and the rest is history.”

Lapierre and Fleming run Brightside in a way that is unlike any other fish market. Lapierre is adamant that “There is nobody who is chasing down the product like I am.”

“No one is as dedicated to the quality as we are. We work out of coolers that are filled with ice, throwing it off our truck, cutting it that day, and throwing it in the case.” Nothing is shipped, nothing is frozen, and everything is supportive of Rhode Island’s unique fishing industry. Lapierre continues, “It’s not that we’re doing one thing different, we’re doing everything different. That’s what you have here, we’re the only ones doing what we’re doing, and we’re pretty fucking awesome at it.”

Fish are an essential part of Rhode Island’s economy, and Lapierre believes that having a reliable fishmonger is just as important. To Lapierre, a fishmonger is someone who not only sells fish, but who ensures that they are sourcing fish ethically and locally. He strongly believes that “it is important to sell local because you are supporting people who work on the water. You’re supporting the people who work on the docks. The community benefits because you’re keeping Pt. Judith alive, you’re keeping the heritage of Pt. Judith alive, you’re keeping the idea of American seafood alive.” The idea behind Brightside Seafood isn’t just business motivated, it is about respecting food, the stories behind the food, and the planet the food comes from.

Lapierre wants to see the future of Rhode Island seafood become as revered as Alaska. Alaska is known for their bountiful and delicious seafood, which is something that Rhode Island has as well. Lapierre believes, “When you go to any big seafood expo, there is always a huge booth for Alaska. There is no reason why New England should not be on the same level as Alaska. It is not for lack of quantity or taste, if the fish is right and the fishmonger is taking care of it, it is just as good if not better than the effect of Alaskan seafood.” Lapierre’s dream is to keep pushing and buying local seafood, so that eventually Rhode Island will be able to say that all the seafood eaten in RI is locally caught and processed in the state. Brightside Seafood is taking all the steps towards accomplishing that dream.

After our interview, Lapierre calls me to tell me that, after visiting the Boston Seafood Expo, he was so excited to see that there was local representation. There was a booth from a local town dock and a local representative. Before hanging up the phone, he says quietly, “It was pretty special for sure.”

To see what’s fresh or to place a pre-order, visit brightsideseafood.com.

Brightside Seafood, 1014 Boston Neck Rd, Narragansett

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