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.