In this morning’s New York Times Magazine, the Food column describes the decline of fisheries off South Carolina, and the effort by one fisherman to create a commercial market for alternative, more sustainable fish species. The decline and subsequent fishing restrictions on popular species there sounds depressingly like the steady decline of the Pacific salmon fisheries here on the West Coast—and simply reflects the overfished state of the seas worldwide. It’s a great story about a creative response to a serious problem.
A really intriguing idea pops up midway through:
Closing the loop tighter, last month Abundant Seafood started a community-sponsored fishery. Home cooks pay a share to receive 2 to 10 pounds of fish a month, and the company receives full retail price. Marhefka said he would use the direct relationship to teach the 60-plus members about the future of fish and its true value. ‘It’s their resource, not mine,’ he said.
I would love to see this locally. Berkeley has already enthusiastically embraced community-supported agriculture: You can buy shares in Full Belly Farm, Riverdog Farm, even meat shares from Marin Sun Farms. And down at the Berkeley Marina, fishermen sell their catch directly from their boats. It seems like it should be possible to merge these two things into an organized cooperative, whereby home cooks could be assured of a steady supply of locally caught, reasonably priced, very fresh fish.
On the other hand, the Monterey Fish Market retail outlet on Hopkins Street is a resource for sustainable seafood that already exists. I don’t patronize the fish market much because it’s a bit off the beaten track for me, and I tend to be intimidated by those one-on-one interactions over the counter.
What about you? Would you commit to buying a set amount of fish direct from the fisherman? Where do you buy your fish now?