Get Hooked on CSF
By Adrianna Natsoulas
You’ve heard about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), where consumer pay for farm shares of produce at the beginning if the season and receive baskets of the harvest as the crops come in.
Well the coastal counterpart to the CSA is Cape Ann Fresh Catch (CAFC), the first Boston-area Community Supported Fishery (CSF) which was launched in June 2009 with over 750 shareholders. A CSF is a shore-side community of people collaborating with the local fishing community. Tailored after the Community Supported Agriculture model, a CSF contributes freshly caught local seafood to the local markets while providing fishermen with a better price on less catch. CSF members give the fishing community financial support in advance of the season, and in turn the fishermen provide a weekly share of seafood during the fishing season. A CSF reconnects people to the ocean that sustains them and builds a rewarding relationship between the fishermen and the shareholders.
The Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association, MIT SeaGrant and the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA) sponsor Cape Ann Fresh Catch. CAFC delivers a variety of the freshest haddock, cod, flounder, hake, dabs, grey sole, pollock, and redfish. In traditional markets fishermen are forced to chase whatever species is fetching the highest price that week. By taking a mix of these species at the same price week-to-week (about $3/lb), fishermen are able to fish areas that are not stressed by the rest of the fleet, and give species and ecosystems time to recover and replenish. This cooperative system also keeps fishermen safer because they don’t have to fight the weather to go offshore for a certain species; if the weather is dangerous, they can stay close to shore and catch only what the CSF needs that week. At the same time, shareholders are guaranteed the freshest, highest quality fish caught. The fish caught for the CSF will never be old or frozen, and it will always come from fishermen who believe in working with the ocean and the community.
Some shareholders are unsure what to do with a whole fish, so CAFC organizers have offered filleting demonstrations and online sources to watch filleting videos. Now that seafood lovers have the entire fish to use – head, tail and all – a number of recipes have been circulating through CAFC facebook page and on NAMA’s website (www.namanet.org) for fish stock and recommendations for cat food. It has brought people together to share ideas in ways we did not expect.
There have been a few obstacles and issues to resolve. Some people expected more variety, but what fishermen catch depends on the time of year, ocean currents and fish populations. People were also surprised to find worms in the fish, but just as a fresh organic apple, that is part of nature. When you buy a fillet of fish in the supermarket, the worms have already been removed. Being closer to the seafood and the fishermen has brought a new understanding and appreciation for many Boston-area seafood lovers.
Cape Ann Fresh Catch just started its second season on August 17th. Another CSF, Port Clyde Fresh Catch, is operating along the Maine coast and plans are in the works to develop more CSFs along the east coast.
Let’s hope it is an appetizing and satisfying season for all involved. For more information, please visit NAMA’s web site at www.namanet.org.
Guest blogger Andrianna Natsoulas is the Campaigns Coordinator for Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance.