Aaron Longton is a commercial fisherman based in Port Orford, Oregon. He knows the importance of protecting habitat so that fish can find shelter and food, grow, and reproduce—even when that means closing certain areas now in order to ensure that fishing remains a viable living for future generations. It’s why he believes it’s time to strengthen the law that governs management of U.S. ocean fish, known as the Magnuson-Stevens Act, to require federal officials to do more to protect habitat already being stressed by a changing climate.
California Governor Jerry Brown has signed new legislation to streamline the permitting and operation of direct, local fishermen’s markets in California. Dubbed the “Pacific to Plate” bill and sponsored by Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), AB 226 allows fishermen’s markets to operate as food facilities, vendors to clean their fish for direct sale, and multiple fishermen to organize a market under a single permit.
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.