National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



New England fishermen are increasingly taking a local approach to marketing their fish.

In 2007, Port Clyde, Maine, fishermen began their Fresh Catch community supported fishery. Under the program, the fishermen sell their catch directly to local residents. Subscribers pay for shares of the fleet's catch, picking up weekly orders of fresh, wild-caught, whole fish. The program has become increasingly popular among local residents.

Some Gloucester, Mass., area fishermen have apparently taken notice. A handful of harvesters have decided selling their product directly to local residents is a good way to go. They began the Cape Ann Fresh Catch program in June, delivering a variety of fish to some 750 subscribers in Bay State communities stretching from Jamaica Plain to Gloucester.

And in New Hampshire, fishermen have launched a new initiative that aims to bring locally caught fish directly to area restaurants. Participating restaurants in the New Hampshire Seafood Fresh and Local program pledge to buy their seafood primarily from New Hampshire fishing vessels or from boats whose home port is within a 15-mile radius of the New Hampshire coast.

Overall, there are seven such community supported fisheries operating along the East Coast. All of these programs are creating connections with their customers, who will know who caught their food, where they caught it, and when and how they caught it. Customers get fresh, high-quality seafood for a fair price.

And fishermen can catch fewer fish, yet make more money by selling direct to the public. Does this mean they'll no longer sell to traditional buyers?

No. But what fish that they do sell through their local initiatives will help them earn more than by selling to the traditional buyers alone. And with the new groundfish sector management regime slated to take hold come May 2010, such local programs could become increasingly popular in New England.

Inside the Industry

NMFS recently released a draft action plan for fish discard and release mortality science, creating a list of actions that they hope can better inform fisheries.

We know that fishermen have to deal with bycatch by discarding or releasing unwanted catch overboard, but there is a data gap regarding how those fish survive.


A new study has identified a set of features common to all ocean ecosystems that provide a visual diagnosis of the health of the underwater environment coastal communities rely on.

Together, the features detail cumulative effects of threats -- such as overfishing, pollution, and invasive species,  allowing responders to act faster to increase ocean resiliency and sustainability.

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