Archive for June 23rd, 2009

Local seafood

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

With any luck, we’ll be shortening the seafood supply chain very soon! A letter to the editor of the Portsmouth Herald has more details:

Simply put, N.H. Seafood Fresh and Local is a great idea.

Led by local fisherman and industry advocate Eric Anderson, this new initiative aims to improve markets for local fishermen; get fresh, local fish in Seacoast restaurants and fish stores; and give much-needed support to fishermen, who have been fighting hard for decades just to survive.

While fishing has defined our communities since Colonial times, our actual fleet has dwindled to about 30 fishing boats and 30 to 50 lobster boats.

Unlike massive factory trawlers that can stay at sea for weeks, most of our fishermen go out for a day or two, dragging and gill netting in the Gulf of Maine for cod, pollock, hake, haddock and other groundfish, Anderson said.

The Portsmouth Fishermen’s Co-op closed in August 2007, leaving local boats no alternative but to sell their fish elsewhere.

Ask Anderson about the state of the local fishing industry and his simple answer is: “We’re in trouble.”

That’s why we so strongly support the N.H. Seafood Fresh and Local initiative. Local seafood tastes better, is healthier and, we believe, consumers will pay a small premium to get fresh, local fish caught by local fishermen.

“Improving the current system is only logical,” Anderson said.

“Benefits would be felt by a variety of user groups (including) seafood harvesters and markets, restaurants, the tourism industry and the local consumer.”

Groups working with Anderson include Seacoast Local, the Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce, Portsmouth Lobster Co., UNH Sea Grant, Seacoast Eat Local, Seaport Fish, N.H. Commercial Fishermen’s Association, Friends of the South End, UNH Marine Education Program, Rumbletree and other local businesses.

The group will hold a meeting at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, July 1, at Jumpin’ Jay’s Fish Cafe on 150 Congress St., Portsmouth.

There are also plans for a New Hampshire Fish and Lobster festival to be held in Prescott Park in September.

We’re confident that as people feel more connected to local fishermen, more educated about species caught in the area and taste the difference between fresh, local fish versus frozen or heavily traveled fish, momentum will build.

When Portsmouth celebrated its 350th anniversary in 1973, Portsmouth Herald editor Ray Brighton was commissioned to write a history. He called his book “They Came To Fish.”

Efforts such as New Hampshire Seafood Fresh and Local have the potential to ensure that fishermen can earn a living and supply us with healthy seafood for years and years to come.

We urge the community to support this worthwhile project.