CSF Bait Box: Fishermen’s Guide to Community Supported Fisheries

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CSF: Local! Sustainable! Fresh!

Small, sweet Northern shrimp has a special place in the hearts of foodies and fishermen in the Northeast.  Native to artic and cold northern waters, Pandalus borealis is a seasonal delight, satisfying the palates of consumers and for many years providing a fine winter fishing opportunity.

A few years ago, though, those fishing for shrimp were offered as little as $.30 per pound for their catch, perhaps $300 for a day’s catch, less the cost of fuel, ice, boat and crew shares. Hardly enough to keep from going in the hole!

Consumers are often shocked when they learn how little fishermen take of the prices paid at the seafood counters.  But as you in the industry know, processing, packaging, freezing, shipping, storage, advertising, and so on, add up quickly in the food chain of today’s global market place.

There’s a different approach afloat.  You may have heard that Northern shrimp is helping Port Clyde and Portsmouth groundfish fishermen survive.  By joining together to participate in Community Supported Fisheries, fishermen are making more money per pound and consumers have gained access to the incredibly fresh product caught locally.

Just as Community Supported Agriculture has helped small farmers develop a niche of specialty products for their local consumers, so too can Community Supported Fisheries help small-scale fishermen develop a niche for a variety of products that allows for maximum flexibility in their annual round, the traditional approach to day boat or short trip fishing.

Furthermore, a CSF supplies seafood lovers in your community with the freshest seafood available, at prices often less than those at the grocery store.  It offers consumers a window into the fishing industry and a sense of how their food got from the boat to the plate, and who caught it.

To help you get started, we’ve put together a primer, a bait box if you will, of what a CSF is and why it can work in your community. On our website, www.namanet.org, you’ll find more tools that you’ll need as you move forward.  We can even set you up with your own web page so you can control the information about your CSF and make sure consumers can find you through our zip code search function.

NAMA is available to help you get started, promote your CSF and work out the kinks as you go along.  We believe that sustaining the health of our oceans goes hand in hand with protecting not only our fish populations, but also you, our fishermen and our shore side communities.

We are grateful to our Board of Trustees and the fishing communities we work with for weighing in on this Bait Box.  The Bait Box would not have been possible without the support of the Andrus Family Fund, Jessie B. Cox Charitable Trust, Maine Community Foundation, Belvedere Fund for Natural Resource Preservation,and MIT Sea Grant College ProgramThank you!

– NAMA Staff