Posted on July 6, 2011 - by

Community Supported Fisheries: Changing the Way You Buy Seafood

Today’s guest blog post is brought to you by FishWise, a non-profit sustainable seafood consultancy that helps seafood businesses improve the sustainability of their seafood offerings.

Land-based farmers have been doing it for years—collecting cash up front from customers at the beginning of the season and offering a consistent supply of fresh, high quality fruits, vegetables and other goods in return. And now, at a time when over 85% of American seafood is imported, U.S. fishermen are also getting on board, so to speak, and offering seasonal seafood to the local community.

This type of arrangement, whereby fishermen sell their product direct to the consumer, is known as a “community supported fishery” (CSF) and they have blossomed on the East coast, particularly North Carolina, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. Now CSFs are slowly but steadily establishing themselves around the rest of the country.

With the influx of cheaper and often less sustainable seafood imports (some types of farmed shrimp, farmed Atlantic salmon and some tuna species), U.S. fisherman are working hard to establish ways to earn a maximum return for their catch. With a CSF program, fishers get a much-needed cash injection at the beginning of the season when they need it most and can increase their share of the profits by selling directly to local customers. Also, when fishermen can earn more for their catch, they fish less aggressively which can mean less impact on the local environment and safer conditions for fishermen.

Just as importantly, you as the customer get the opportunity to learn about new fish species that you may not normally purchase, come to appreciate the seasonality of seafood, and help support local fishers and families, many of whom have been fishing for generations.

If you are interested in learning more, The North Atlantic Marine Alliance has put together a list of community supported fisheries around the country from San Luis Obispo, California to Port Clyde, New England – check it out!

FishWise is a non-profit sustainable seafood consultancy that helps seafood businesses improve the sustainability of their seafood offerings through environmentally responsible business practices, such as policy development, employee training, sourcing assistance and point of sale information. This approach empowers consumer to make environmentally informed choices when purchasing seafood.

To learn more about sustainable seafood, visit www.fishwise.org or sign up for their mailing list.

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