At the intersection of marine conservation and social, economic, environmental and food justice

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Fish Pages - Weekly Wrap Up

by Sean Sullivan Marketing, Outreach and Development Associate

Back in the day fishmongers used newspaper to wrap up fish for customers. Newspaper was used because not only is it plentiful, but it is relatively free of bacteria and absorbs oils and smells. In the tradition of Friday fish and fish being wrapped in newspaper, I am going to begin a weekly wrap up of the world according to NAMA. Hopefully you'll find what's inside tasty and deliciously healthy.

The first news item comes from yesterday's New England Fisheries Management Council (NEFMC) meeting of the Groundfish Comittee. Some good news comes out of the meeting as the council voted to approve the scoping document about fleet diversity for Amendment 18 to the Magnusen-Stevens Fisheries Act....I am sure that paragraph just put at least a few of you to sleep. So let's repeat that in plain english....

The people who make the fish rules agreed to begin the process of making formal rules to protect a diverse fleet. Its a really important first step in having our Who Fishes Matters campaign achieve it's objectives.

We are constantly seeking ways to make sure fishermen's voices get heard at the council. At the latest meeting Brett Tolley used text messages to provide fishermen out on the water with live updates on the debate on Amendment 18. When he got up to testify he was able to convey their feedback in essentially real time. If they cannot come to the meeting we'll bring the meeting to them!

We also had a thrilling Seafood Throwdown at the Cape Ann Farmer's Market featuring celebrity judge Christian Collins from TV's Master Chef program (click on this link to see Christian on local TV as he gives NAMA a big shout-out) . The secret seafood was skate! Skate is a wonderful fish. It is considered a healthy stock, and is one of those "underutilized*" species. You can read all about the Throwdown here.

Next up we'll be hosting a Seafood Throwdown on Martha's Vineyard at the West Tisbury Farmers Market tomorrow morning. Stop by if you are on island. Things kick off at 9:30AM!

Among the interesting items that swept across my desk this week like a summer thundershower are the news that there will be a new CSF on Nantucket. Details to come on that one. And there is growing momentum in Southern Maine to develop a CSF. Get in touch with us for details or if you would like to be involved.

In Rhode Island there are some really cool things going on using technology to direct market seafood. The farm to market connection has shown that people care about where there food comes from. I think we'll see pretty soon that some fishermen will be able to challenge the current seafood paradigm by using technology to escape the "at the hands of the processors" situation they are currently in. The more the market diversifies, the more fishermen will be rewarded for fishing sustainably, and the easier it will be for consumers to put their food dollars where their values lie.

In other notes, the Cape Ann Fresh Catch CSF is now taking orders for Fall shares with deliveries to 20 Boston Metro area stops including new stops in Somerville and Needham.

*The term "underutilized" and "trash fish" are sometimes synonymous with "by-catch" but almost always refer to a species that has low or no commercial value. The reason for this can be because there is no market for the fish or the value of the fish is very low. I have a philosophical problem with the idea that anything that swims in the ocean is trash. In fact historically, bluefin tuna and lobsters were considered trash fish. And "underutilized" is a similarly human centric term that implies that species exist for our purposes only. However the term(s) seem to be gaining traction as a way to highlight that there are more things in the ocean than cod and haddock, which is something we like to promote. If you read Audubon magazine there will be an article in the September issue about "trash fish" that will also talk about CSF's.

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