If you’ve been reading our blog, you are probably familiar by now with the term CSA (community supported agriculture)… but have you ever heard of a CSF? Community Supported Fisheries are popping up all along the coasts, providing seafood lovers with fresh, local, and sustainably sourced fish and shellfish. CSF’s provide a nice protein supply to your local diet, and what’s even better is that now you can order your fish share right alongside your veggie share, as is the case in California with Farmigo family CSF, Local Catch Monterey Bay, and CSA, WE Cooperative. For those of you living in the Monterey Bay, there are now 4 pick up sites available where you can receive convenient deliveries of locally grown organic produce and sustainably sourced fresh fish, providing you with everything you need for a well balanced diet.
We wanted to understand more about how a CSF operates, so we spoke with Alan, the program director at Local Catch. Alan described how sensitivities surrounding sustainable fishing vary from those of sustainable agriculture:
“While the agriculture model requires substantial amounts of husbandry, the ocean is a very different system. It’s the last wild food that we have in the world. Fishing more closely resembles hunting than it does agriculture, in the sense that the system is self-producing. It’s an inherently sustainable system, one that if humans were not interacting with it, would still produce fish. So we have to think about it in different terms that recognize that we are part of an ecological system that is prone to exploitation.”
To address these sensitivities, Local Catch emphasizes the role of the “Triple Bottom Line” in their operating principles, a concept which aims for environmental, economic, and social sustainability. In addressing environmental sustainability, the guys at Local Catch work with fishermen who use friendly fishing methods such as hook and line, long lines (seen in the video above), and some nets to catch everything from Albacore Tuna and California Halibut to Rock Crab and Sardines. These methods are better able to catch direct targets, significantly reducing the amount of bycatch and ensuring that a healthy population remains in the sea in the interest of species proliferation. Local Catch also works with some sustainable seafood farms, specifically for sourcing abalone and other shellfish such as mussels. The abalone are raised in a natural aquaculture system in which they feed on the kelp which is abundant in the area. The mussel system requires little input and provides a valuable ecosystem service which actually improves the quality of the oceans, as mollusks are filter feeders who clean the water as they consume floating particles of plant mass.
Economic sustainability is achieved through the groundbreaking CSF model, which connects fishermen directly to consumers. This model provides fishermen with a steady stream of income and a premium price for their catch. The security gained through this system helps fishermen earn a decent wage from less fishing, easing the strain on ocean resources and freeing up fishermen to create new and innovative catch methods. The social aspect of the triple bottom line is also emphasized here as the CSF model promoted by Local Catch has built a strong bridge between the consumer and the producer in what often tends to be an isolated profession. In a traditional model, fishermen often spend hours or days out on the sea, rarely having any interaction with the customers.
The social sustainability aspect is further emphasized when we consider the health impact of fresh, wild fish compared to that of industrial aquaculture or traditional fishing methods. Locally caught fish are delivered to the consumer as fresh as can be, unlike fish that have been frozen and flown around the world, reducing the likelihood of spoiling and bacteria development. Fish farmed in industrial operations live on a diet of prepared fish pellets known to contain animal products, and are often fed hormones to speed up growth and antibiotics to prevent the spread of disease in overcrowded cages. Wild fish, on the other hand, have a more diverse diet which gives them a richer flavor and a healthier impact on our bodies.
Finally, by collaborating with WE Cooperative, Local Catch is able to bring people together over fresh, healthy, and locally produced food. The smiles on the customers faces in the recent Local Catch/WE Cooperative Potluck Dinner and Outdoor Concert are telling of the satisfaction they feel by supporting the local economy and eating a healthy, sustainable, and balanced meal sourced right in their own backyard.
If you live in the Monterey area and want to sign up for a CSA or CSF share, or both, don’t hesitate! The time is now!