Monday, September 27, 2010

Last week I went by Turner's Seafood in Gloucester to pick up some Bluefish that Jim and Kathi Turner donated for a Sustainable Seafood Cooking Demonstration at the Healthy Living Expo (thanks again Jim and Kathi!). Turner's is one of the partners in Cape Ann Fresh Catch, and I have to say they are great people and a real pleasure to work with. They are committed to to helping and improving on every aspect of the program, and all of us are glad to be working with them. I'd never been to their facility, which has a retail storefront as well as the fish processing plant in the back. The video below is a snapshot of a day in the life at Turner's unloading and filleting Yellowtail flounders for CAFC.

Because of the way the rules work, fish must be landed, handled and processed at a facility that not only meets the legal health and safety requirements, but also has the legal status to report landing fish etc., I'll get into some detail about how Cape Ann Fresh Catch actually works, from the dock to your plate in a later post. But I will say that I have been around fish for years and one thing you can always tell right away about a fish facility is how it smells.

The best fish handlers and processors do not smell 'fishy' they smell like the ocean. They do not smell 'chemically', they smell clean. I walked into Turner's and could tell right away that they keep a clean shop. Everything smelled nice. The fish that you see in the video were so fresh they had an almost sweet smell.

A couple more notes before the video:
- The sanitizing system Turner's uses is state of the art. Jim explains it in the video, but the real important thing to understand is that using this technology, Turner's does not use any chemical sanitizing agents.
- Turner's also has a retail store and restuarant in Melrose, please support great local businesses like these that are making a commitment to helping fishermen and consumers get really fresh seafood, and making a long term commitment to sustainable fishing by supporting the small scale fishermen and fishing families who have a generations long commitment to our local seafood.

And lastly, Turner's along with Cape Ann Fresh Catch, the Gloucester Fishermen's Wives Association and the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance will be hosting tables at the upcoming Boston Local Food Festival. We'll also be doing cooking demonstrations and hosting a Seafood Throwdown cooking competition between to local celebrity chefs, Didi Emmons from Haley House and Jason Bond from Bondir Restaurant this Saturday Oct 2. The Seafood events will be on the Seaport Blvd end of the festival in Boston.

Now on to the video:

Monday, September 20, 2010

Here is the third and final part of my interview with Joe Orlando owner operator of the f/v Padre Pio. (f/v stands for "fishing vessel" in case you were wondering.) Though Joe does not catch fish for CAFC (yet!) He is very much typical of the fishermen we work with. He is a dayboat fisherman - he goes out and comes bak in the same day for the most part. His vessel is a small dragger, which is the predominate gear choice for fishermen out of Gloucester. He has been fishing for at least two decades and has seen everything from a fishery in decline to the current state of the fishery which is nearing its target goals to be considered 'rebuilt'.

Several things stand out for me from my talk with Joe. One is the amazing amount of regulation New England fishermen face. Not only do fishermen have to tell the government when they are going fishing, but they may have to bring a government employee on board to monitor everything from gear and safety to the size and composition of their catch, they are digitally tracked via satellite, and when they get back to port there could be another government employee waiting at the dockside to observe unloading.

But all that is just the tip of the iceberg. When they are out fishing they have strict limits on what gear they can use, where they can fish, closed areas, Coast Guard enforcement and State Environmental Police.

As if that were not enough, our fishermen are almost all independent businessmen and women. They have to figure out when and where to fish amidst the regulations so that they can make a living. Its a daunting task, and one that unfortunately not too many younger people are choosing as a way to make a living.

At one of our recent CAFC weekly meetings a bunch of us were talking about how much people like to watch fishing boats unload. I know for myself I can stand there and watch boats and fishermen for hours. Fishing has always had a certain romance about it; men heading out to sea to battle the wind and waves to bring back seafood. Their boats color our harbors, and their tales color our history.

When you hear Joe talk about the regulatory environment he works in, it is hard to see the romance of the job. Fishermen in New England are no longer battling just the seas and the fish.

In the coming weeks we'll move away from regulations and get into more details about the fishing vessels we use, how CAFC works with fishermen and shore-side operations and finally hopefully we can talk more about the fish we are eating. Now for more Joe:

Monday, September 13, 2010

Here is the second part of my conversation with Joe Orlando about fishing regulation and the current state of fish stocks. Joe fishes out of Gloucester on his boat "Padre Pio". One more installment to come next week.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Blog took a week off for the holiday weekend, but we are back with a video of Gloucester Fisherman Joe Orlando talking about fishing and fishing rules. Enjoy. Part 2 Next week.