Go Fish | Community-supported Fishery in Gloucester
At first, CAFC offered only whole fish. “When you fillet a fish, you use only 60 percent of the meat,” Angela explains. “With the whole fish, you use 95. ” But customers wanted a choice, so CAFC contracted with Turner’s Seafood in Gloucester to do the filleting.
The staff of Cape Ann Fresh Catch has a mission beyond marketing. They want to teach consumers how to cook with and enjoy fish other than cod and salmon. “People have a hierarchy of fish,” says Heather Fraelick, an inaugural CSF customer who became the group’s marketing director. “The consumer doesn’t really understand what happens when you eat only the same fish over and over.” When the market demands only a few choice species, fishermen are forced to go farther afield to find them, and to catch more of them when they do. That leads to overfishing and to greater hazards at sea. If fishermen could earn a decent price for a greater variety of fish caught closer to home, the CSF could potentially save the fishery and the fishermen’s livelihoods.
Cape Ann Fresh Catch is nowhere near that point now. It currently buys a little bit of fish from many different dayboats, but if the program grows, it might be able to buy a lot of fish from a fleet of dedicated boats. And if everyone bought fish this way, more fishermen could be guaranteed a living wage without decimating fish stocks. A total conversion is unlikely, of course. But New England, home to the most stringently regulated fisheries in the country, is also a hotbed of innovation. Since Port Clyde and Gloucester began their CSF programs, nine other New England communities, from Connecticut to Maine, have launched their own. But what will happen come May this year, when those drastic catch limits go into effect? Will there even be enough fishermen to supply Cape Ann Fresh Catch? “We do believe there will be enough boats to supply our member base, as it stands now,” Heather Fraelick says. “That said, the reality for fishermen is that the industry is constantly in flux. We don’t know how cuts will impact the market and prices.”
Back at Ocean Crest Seafoods, Al Cottone has brought his boat, the Sabrina Maria, to the dock, and the crew is racing to unload about 600 pounds of flounder, haddock, and monkfish tail that he caught alone and trimmed himself. It’s 2:00 in the afternoon, and he’s been out since 5:00 a.m. When asked about the looming cuts, he shakes his head. “You can’t even describe it,” he says. “You live month to month. We’re seeing an increasing level in every species out there, and they say everything is in decline. There’s a huge disconnect.”
He has more to say, but there’s no time. Another boat is waiting behind him, and he needs to monitor Ocean Crest’s crew as they weigh his take. In 15 minutes he’ll be gone and another boat will take his place.
The following recipes make use of fish that Cape Ann Fresh Catch offers its members each winter. If your fishmonger doesn’t carry these varieties, ask him or her to place a special order. Or join a CSF! For a list of New England community-supported fisheries, go to: YankeeMagazine.com/more