Community Supported Fisheries
Buying fresh fish should be simple. Unfortunately, in this day and age, things are not so easy. Corporations own the profit-earning sector of the market, picking seafood up at prices set in their favor, shipping it all over the world, and selling it at inflated prices, leaving both the consumer (You, with lousy seafood, sometimes a week or more out of the water) and the producer (fisherman, with lousy pay) unhappy.
But things are changing thanks to efforts from organizations such as Ecotrust, whose mission is "to inspire fresh thinking that creates economic opportunity, social equity and environmental wellbeing."
One of these fresh changes is Community Supported Fisheries. A couple of decades ago Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)—where farmers deliver a basket of their goods on a weekly or bi-weekly basis to their subscribing customers—began popping up around the country as an alternative to buying agricultural products at super markets. CSAs are generally set up as a direct producer-to-consumer chain with the middleman cut out. Customers pay a rate competitive with what they’d find in the supermarket but for a product that is fresh and local. They’re also paying the farmer directly, who gets more of the profit than they would selling to a corporation.
Thanks to spreading success of CSAs in the agricultural world—there are now over 4,000 programs across the US—this model is starting to wash ashore in the fishing industry on both coasts of America. Fishermen are some of the hardest working folks around and have been beholden to large corporations setting fish costs in their favor for years while operating costs for fisherman—such as gas prices—continue to grow. Community Supported Fisheries (CSFs) are looking to change that. Not only will consumers get sustainably harvested seafood from the water and onto their fork as quickly as possible, but fisherman will get the pay they deserve for risking their lives out on the ocean for our benefit. And, the two parties—usually separated in our modern society—get to know each other, fostering a sense of community and responsibility. It’s a win-win on both sides of the supply chain. Look for a local CSF near you.