Commercial fishermen should be able to sell their catches directly to consumers, so say advocates of what is called community supported fisheries. Community supported agriculture has become familiar during the past decade. Members buy shares in a farm and are rewarded periodically with boxes of produce — and a sense of ownership. In the newer fishing model, subscribers prepay for the day’s catch, accepting whatever comes over the gunwales.
Sea Grant, a joint program of Cornell and the State University at Stony Brook, has been studying whether community supported fisheries might work on Long Island. Several groups and private citizens are also trying to gauge interest.
For the South Fork’s fishing families, such a program might be challenging, but it could bring potential rewards as well. From our perspective, a lot more and better marketing could be done to promote this region’s excellent and varied seafood. Trap fishing, in particular, is environmentally sustainable, yields the freshest, best-quality fish, and would be ideal for the subscriber model because catches are varied from day to day and season to season, something consumers require.
Local farmers have been getting a lot of the attention lately, perhaps it is the fishing fleet’s turn to get in the spotlight.