The New Way to Share Food: Community Supported Fisheries


Graphic via Port Clyde Fresh Catch

I just learned today on TakePart.com, a website and social action network, that local fisherman along the North American seaboard are starting up Community Supported Fisheries (CSFs). Similar to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), they give coastal communities the ability to enjoy local fish while supporting their fishermen neighbors. Members buy seasonal shares for a flat rate up front in exchange for a weekly (or bi-weekly) delivery of fresh fish and shellfish. As with CSAs, you get what’s in season.

According to TakePart, “the CSF movement was born in the tiny village of Port Clyde, Maine, in 2007. Spurred by local success and increased demand, a small but growing CSF web now extends from the Atlantic to the Pacific. At least 20 different CSFs are operating in coastal communities from Maine and Massachusetts to North Carolina, California and Alaska, as well as Nova Scotia and British Columbia.”

The Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA) helps promote the CSF movement across the U.S., fostering relationships between local fishermen and shoppers.

CSFs are good for the environment as well because it helps fishermen get a fair price for their catch so they don’t have to kill more fish than is necessary. They bring home what the ocean offers up. And, since most CSFs deliver whole fish, fishermen help members learn how to use more than just the filets.

One drawback, according to Dr. Geoffrey Shester, senior science manager for the Seafood Watch program at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, is that “local doesn’t mean sustainable, and small-scale doesn’t mean sustainable.” However, Niaz Dorry of NAMA believes that “by alleviating the fight to meet the bottom line, CSFs allow fishermen to stop focusing on the particular fish species that is fetching the highest price on shore. All of the fish are worth the same amount of money to a CSF fisherman.”

Are you interested in a CSF? If you live in a coastal community, check out NAMA’s directory for a CSF near you.

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