Monday, July 26, 2010

We get a lot of questions (and an occasional complaint) about the prevalence of Cod in your shares. And, we can assure you we do try our best to deliver as much variety as we can. But, we will not compromise quality for variety. We are Cape Ann FRESH Catch after all, and we can say that over the last two years no one has ever complained that the fish were not fresh.

With a program like CAFC CSF, you sign up to get a share of what our fishermen are catching. (By the way we now have over a dozen boats participating in the CSF). But if Cod are close and are fetching a good price that is what all the fishermen will bring in, and there’s not a lot we can do to change that except tell some other fish to swim in closer, but they never listen to us. Typically the variety increases as the summer progresses and we should start seeing some of last year’s favorite, whiting, soon. (And we will delve more into the issue of Cod sustainability in a future blog post.)

The gatekeeper for CAFC fish is Steve Parkes. Steve has been working in fisheries for years, starting out selling fish out of a van in Western Massachusetts to eventually starting Pigeon Cove Seafoods which he later sold to Whole Foods where he continued as their head seafood buyer before coming to CAFC. Steve knows more about seafood than just about anyone and has seen the ups and downs of the fishing industry. We asked Steve a few questions about CAFC fish:

CAFC News: Steve, what is the criteria for selecting CAFC fish?
SP: Number one, two and three is freshness. 99% of our fish are dayboat fish and are only a few hours out of the water by the time we get them. (Ed: “Dayboat” means that the boat left and returned to the dock in the same day vs. “tripboat” fish where the boat may stay out for several days or more).

CAFC News: How are our fish being caught?
SP: Mostly draggers. The draggers can go out right now and be back in a few hours with a full boat on one tow. So in reality it is the best way to get fresh fish to the dock quickly. In fact the problem for some guys right now is that with the new sector system they don’t want to catch too much at once and right now we are seeing the best fishing as long as I’ve been doing this.

CAFC News: So tell us more about what fishermen are seeing and saying about fishing conditions and the new rules?
SP: Well number one is that the guys are really happy that they can land whatever they catch, there is no more by-catch. Guys just hated throwing over healthy fish because of a trip limit. So they are really happy about that. Number two they are happy the fish are coming back so well.

CAFC News: We’ve been getting a lot of cod lately why?
SP: Well, there’s a lot of them out there. It is also the traditional Cod fishing season. We’ll start to see more flatfish as the summer wears on and the cod move to deeper waters. Guys are so used to the old rules they tend to still fish where they did then, so things may change but right now the price is up and the cod are close and plentiful so that’s what they bring in.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Welcome to the CAFC Blog.

Starting this week and each week hereafter we will be writing a new blog entry covering issues related to fishing, eating fish, fish politics and relevant fish events. One of our objectives as a CSF is to build on the “Community” that we have been able to establish. The CAFC Blog is a way for us to get news out to you about what is going on in the world of fish. You will still receive separate notifications on the day of your delivery about what types of fish and/or any problems with weather etc.

One of the things we know our community care’s about is the sustainability of the fish you get from CAFC. And on that front there is increasingly good news to report. Most, if not all of the fish you are receiving are from stocks that are growing. For example, the following quote comes from a June 25 press release from the New England Fisheries Management Council (NEFMC) (The NEMFC is one of 8 regional Councils set up by the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Act of 1976 to advise the government on fisheries policies. We will go into this in more detail next week):

“Gulf of Maine haddock are rebuilt and are being harvested at sustainable levels. Gulf of Maine cod is no longer overfished and is at a stock size that has not been seen in 30 years. Acadian redfish is very close to or fully rebuilt, although that determination awaits confirmation by a stock assessment. While they are not fully rebuilt, increases in many of the stocks in the groundfish complex are being observed for the first time in nearly a decade.”

Indeed a recent Pollack assessment changed that fish from overfished to abundant. So, after years of sacrifice and struggle, fishermen are encouraged by the rebounding stocks. Indeed for some fishermen the problem is that they are catching too many fish - a topic we will cover next week. So while there are still lots of issues, problems and challenges facing local fishermen, for the first time in a long time a scarcity of fish is not the main problem.

Each week we will try to tell you a little more about the fish, fishermen (and women), where and how they catch their fish and the shore-side processors – without who’s participation CAFC could not exist, as well as some of the fun events going on involving seafood.