Who Caught Your Fish?
Well... we don't expect 95% of the population to be able to answer that question. But we are working to change that.
We believe changing how and where the seafood that ends up on dinner tables comes from is key to fisheries conservation. Our goal is to recover marine ecosystems while strengthening fishing communities and their commercial fisheries.
For some of us this represents a return to childhood memories, for others it is a totally new idea. For the oceans, it means a better chance of being able to feed us for the long haul. Either way, eating local seafood promises the delight of truly fresh and delicious seafood.
Problem: Any Seafood, Any Time
The demand for “any seafood, any time,” built rapidly over the past century. Means of preserving and transporting fresh and processed fish to distant markets grew while the recipients went unaware of the ecological consequences. This gave rise to fleets of industrial scale fishing boats and gear that can roam the world’s oceans in search of new populations of fish. But all that has occurred at the expense of the web of sealife, and the quality of seafood on our plates.
Out-paced, out-spent and out-marketed, small community-based fishing operations suffered, and, as this growth took hold, fishery after fishery collapsed.
Solution: Eat Local Seafood
Why Local Matters
Aside from the essential quality to seafood that you only get when it’s harvested locally and delivered to you just hours out of the ocean, the long term long term health and abundance of the oceans depends on it. Small-scale, community-based owned boats enable fishermen to pay attention to the way fish is caught and focus on strengthening our local food community, economy and the sustainability of the marine ecosystem.
We believe our seafood market transformation work - particularly Community Supported Fisheries (CSF) - will allow us to achieve the quadruple-bottom line through:
- Environmental Stewardship: By connecting the community to the fishermen we encourage an ethic of ecological stewardship that results in creative, community-based approaches to marine conservation.
- Local Economies: Local markets increase the viability of traditional coastal communities by fostering economic opportunities that support natural resource-based livelihoods.
- Social Improvements: Developing local relationships between fishermen and consumers cultivates ties and establishes bonds between shoreside communities and inshore urban, suburban and rural communities by providing fresh, local seafood.
- Healthy Regional Food Systems: Local seafood paves the way for a truly safe, secure, sovereign and healthy regional food system by ensuring seafood is included in local and regional food systems.
NAMA is working to build a market for the catch of ecologically responsible, local fisheries not only to bring seafood lovers fresh fish but to build a base of support for the long-term economic health of fishing communities and the marine ecosystem that sustains them.Without a strong base of public support, our community based fishermen will be out-marketed and out-spent by the aqua-business. Our markets work is focused in the following areas:
- Community Supported Fisheries - CSFs allow us to have a conversation with seafood consumers about the entire food-supply-chain process of what swims in the ocean to what lands on our plates. By creating transparency around our seafood production processes, CSFs help define the importance of local food sources by emphasizing sustainable fishery practices; encouraging environmental sensitivity among fishermen; ensuring higher quality processing standards; creating a more secure and sovereign food system; providing direct-to-consumer, low-carbon foot-print seafood; and ultimately, a competitively-priced, higher quality experience for seafood consumers. In addition, by reshaping the role of the middle-entities that control the price and ingest most of the profits, CSFs allow fishermen to get paid more for catching less while providing access to affordable, fresh and healthy seafood to low- and middle-income families who are typically priced out of the seafood market.
- Farm to Cafeteria strategies - Following our participation in the recent Farm to Cafeteria conference in Detroit we have been approached by a number of schools and universities interested in strategies around seafood. Maine and New Hampshire are definitely leading the way on the fish to school programs. With the rise in health problems amongst young people especially those with limited means, this is a particularly important venue for local, fresh wholesome food.
- Chefs/restaurants involvement – Through various programs including our Seafood Throwdown competitions, involvement with the Boston area Sustainable Business Network's ALLocal Dinners and the first Mini Trade Show aimed at reaching chefs and restaurateurs, more and more chefs are working with us on shifting their buying practices to buy directly from fishing communities is the better ecological and economic alternative.
- Hospitals - This year in collaboration with Health Care Without Harm, we hosted a day long event for hospital executives in charge of food procurement throughout the Northeast, including Diane Imrie of Fletcher Allen Health Care in Vermont whose work has revolutionized their food service. The work has led to a substantial conversation with hospitals interested in shifting their procurement dollars toward local seafood. In New Hampshire, work is already under way with seacoast hospitals.