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Last week NAMA was up in Halifax to discuss the 'seafood value chain' at a workshop hosted by the Ecology Action Center. Beforehand I reached out to many of our FLC members to gather stories about how we're collectively working to improve our seafood value chain and shift policy. Our stories were so well received I wanted to share back a few of my impressions...
Canada overall has a seafood chain that has been stripped of its value when it comes to local economies, price passed onto fishermen, and food access. Most wild seafood that is caught is shipped far, far away and the price to fishermen is barely enough to cover the cost it takes to catch the fish. As one fisherman put it, "I'm getting paid the same price now that I was paid in 1988. We have sustainable fisheries but we don't have sustainable fishermen."
At the same time restaurants, seafood retailers, schools, hospitals, and individual people are seeking access to locally caught seafood and yet they have no access. The workshop brought together folks along the value chain to figure out how to improve the system. I shared stories from the U.S. including the Fish Locally Collaborative's work around CSFs, fish to school, hospitals, and policy change.
I heard from several people that our FLC work was really inspiring and in particular the work around hospitals. The track record of hospitals to shift policy and shift buying patterns is hopeful and the fact that hospital networks are actively piloting new ways to engage around seafood and elevate our values toward healthy oceans and who fishes matters, well that is truly inspiring!
There is a report coming out soon that will highlight the workshop outcomes, which I'm happy to share with folks. In the meantime I will share one resonating idea, which was to develop a regional seafood hub to support smaller scale fishers, seasonal seafood distribution, and increase access. Valerie Nelson sent the FLC a note this morning about food hubs and the opportunities for seafood hubs in our areas. I encourage everyone to take a look at the article and I should also mention that models like that of FLC member Jared Auerbach at Red's Best (www.redsbest.com) is really exciting.
And lastly, I wanted to share this great quote from Marc Allain, a fisheries activist and organizer in Canada, which he stole from Margaret Meade...
"Never doubt, that a small group of thoughtful, committed fish harvesters + allies can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
PS: Here are some of the tweets from the workshop:http://storify.com/EAC_SeaMouse/seafood-value-chain-workshop
Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance