by Adam Soliman
Community Supported Fisheries (CSFs) are organizational concepts emerging in coastal communities that can be effective in the development of sustainable fisheries. CSFs are modelled after Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) enterprises. Such collectives work to connect consumers to local and sustainably-produced foods which are often also fair-trade. CSFs are social enterprises which work to ensure that small-scale, independent fishing families can continuously sustain their livelihoods in an industry dominated by corporate fishing companies. A key focus of CSFs is to offer small-scale fishers’ opportunities to market their products directly to local consumers; bypassing the distributor or middleman allows fishermen to obtain higher profit margins. CSFs also help independent fishing operations capitalize on conscious consumers willing to pay above-average prices for local and sustainable seafood. There are currently several CSFs operating in the US and on the East Coast of Canada.
Off the Hook is Atlantic Canada’s first CSF that helps to sustain jobs in in the fishing industry of Nova Scotia. It offers consumers direct access to fresh, local seafood harvested by community-oriented fishing operations. This organization believes that healthy and prosperous fishing operations are vital to cultural, environmental and economic resilience in coastal communities. This CSF offers members of the public the opportunity to purchase shares of the collective. Shareholders get to build relationships with local fishermen, and they also get fresh seafood – caught in local waters – delivered to various pick-up locations. CSFs work to support local families and coastal communities that practice low-impact fishing, such asline and hook. Sustainable fishing practices give fish stocks more time to replenish their populations from deep-sea trawling, methods that drag up far too much bycatch which ends up being dumped back into the ocean, dead.
I would like to thank Sadie Beaton of the Ecology Action Centre for her information regarding sustainable initiatives in Atlantic Canada.
Ecology Action Center: http://www.ecologyaction.ca/
Small Scales: http://smallscales.ca/
Off the Hook: http://www.offthehookcsf.ca/description