The covid-19 pandemic has disrupted seafood supply chains around the world, but some small-scale fishermen and processors have managed major shifts by expanding their direct marketing efforts, and focusing on quality and price. Before starting Gulf of Maine Sashimi, a small-scale fish processing and distribution company, President and CEO Jen Levin had worked for the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, managing the organization’s sustainable seafood program.
“I looked at the volume of some fisheries like Icelandic haddock and Norwegian cod and the prices they can sell for. We can’t compete. Last year, we harvested just 17 percent of the Georges Bank/Gulf of Maine quota for haddock, 8 percent of the pollock quota, partly because fishermen can’t afford to fish at these prices.” While Levin acknowledges that the price of quota for choke species like cod and flounder is part of the problem, she believes the main factor is price at the dock. “We started looking for high-end markets. And we started working with fishermen to train them to land a high-quality fish.”
The process Levin teaches to the fishermen who sell to her is what the Japanese call ikejime.
“It means, to kill with purpose,” she says.