Why should we care about independent, owner-operator fishing fleets? For one thing, these sorts of operations help to maintain meaningful employment in coastal communities. There are a number of groups who are currently focused on the importance of such fisheries, such as the Community Fisheries Network, a cooperative that works to address the social side of fishing, an increasingly important aspect of sustainability in fisheries.
The pile of fish marks an important step toward a fundamentally different way that prominent chefs are beginning to source American seafood: the restaurant-supported fishery.
Call it an evolutionary leap from community-supported-agriculture programs, which support local farmers, and community-supported fisheries, which support small-scale fishermen. Both models rely on members who share the risks of food production by pre-buying weekly subscriptions.
Real Good Fish is working to bring species that don’t have much of a market to school lunches, and we are creating an educational component to go along with it. For high school students, it will include curriculum for classes in food systems, marine biology, and fisheries, all of which will follow Next Generation Science Standards. For elementary schools, we want to cultivate awe and interest in the ocean for students.
In the face of serious threats to our nation’s fisheries, fishermen, conservationists, and scientists are coming together to influence policy-makers, educate the public about where our seafood comes from, and support family fishermen and the habitat on which they depend.