Fish with a Face – finding sustainable seafood from regional fishermen
Ask any Vermonter and they could probably rattle off at least one their vegetable farmers – we see them at our farmers’ markets and attend fundraisers when their barns tragically burn down. But ask them who their fisherman is and I’m pretty sure you’d get a lot of blank stares.
Yet like farming, who fishes our seas matters, and unfortunately we’ve seen the same kinds of corporate consolidation and industrial-scale exploitation of the seas as we’ve seen on our farmland: the effects of bigger-is-better, profit-at-any-cost mindset are all too well known on both land and sea - soil erosion, decimated fish stocks, and small-scale producers put out of business by the corporate big guys. This is obviously an oversimplification of a complex issue, but you catch my drift.
Port Clyde, Maine
If we consumers vote with our dollars, we’ve never had much information and transparency about what we're voting for when it comes to seafood – unlike produce, there is no ‘organic’ designation for seafood production and most seafood products loose all information about how, where, and by whom it was caught by the time it reaches the market. If we want to buy fish that's harvested in-line with our ecological and social values, we have to connect directly with the fishermen themselves.
Port Clyde Fisherwoman, Maine
Attempting to sustain both the fishing community and the fisheries around Port Clyde, Maine, small-scale fishermen organized a cooperative back in 2009. Port Clyde Fresh Catch fishermen both harvest and process the fish, allowing consumers to know their fish was caught using sustainable methods while simultaneously allowing small-scale fishermen to get a better price for their products.
Over in Maine these guys sell at farmers’ markets and run a Community Supported Fishery (analogous to a CSA).
Knitting nets in Port Clyde, Maine
Wanting to support our regional, small-scale, sustainable producers, we’ve worked hard to get fish directly from Port Clyde into our Meat and Seafood Department. It’s not as easy as we’d like – with New England’s nascent regional food system we actually have to get this frozen fish delivered via… FedEx (I wonder what the driver thinks about that)! But, for the past few weeks we’ve been excited to have cod, pollock, and hake on our shelves with haddock coming in the next few months. Check it out the next time you're in the store.
Processing fish in Port Clyde, Maine