December 1st marks the official opening day of this year’s Northern Shrimp (Pandalus borealis) fishery. Following a pilot Community Supported Fishery (CSF) project, Cape Ann Fresh Catch is now signing people up for winter shares of seafood with Northern Shrimp as the main focus. Deliveries will start the week of December 7, 2009 to all the current nine drop off locations which include Appleton Farm in Ipswich, Fishermen’s Wharf in Gloucester, St. Andrews Church in Marblehead, Codman Community Farm in Lincoln, Butterbrook Farm in Acton, Harvard Square, Community Servings’ parking lot, Morse School parking lot in Cambridge, and Newburyport Waterfront Trust Land. Anyone interested in joining the upcoming winter CSF should contact Cape Ann Fresh Catch at firstname.lastname@example.org immediately to make sure they are on the list to receive their shares as early as Monday, December 7, 2009.
“We are very excited to offer local shrimp through the CSF. It’s always been our dream to ensure the public has access to fresh, local seafood caught sustainably. The CSF has helped us get so much closer to this dream, opened pathways of communication to thousands of people in dozens of communities, and given our fishermen hope that the future can in fact be bright regardless of the limitations of fisheries management,” said Angela Sanfilippo, president of the Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association. Cape Ann Fresh Catch is a project of GFWA. “The response to the pilot project was amazing, encouraging and heartwarming. We will use what we learned over the past few months to now provide local shrimp to consumers. Local shrimp population is at healthy levels, but our fishermen are out-marketed and out-spent by the imported, farmed shrimp that floods the U.S. market.”
Fisheries managers announced the opening of the season and the total allowable catch for 2010 season in late October. To ensure the fishery remains healthy and to address some of the old problems with the shrimp fishery, shrimp fishermen meet many gear restrictions, including a minimum mesh size of 1¾” and use of the Nordmore grate, which separates shrimp from fish. To reduce physical damage to fish being returned to the sea, mechanical devices used to cull, grade, separate or shake shrimp are not allowed. So separating the fish from the shrimp by using the Nordmore grate before they are actually caught is critical.
Beyond these measures, the CSF fishermen have collaborated with researchers to develop additional sorting devices that have virtually eliminated bycatch and target only the large shrimp allowing those excluded to contribute to the next generation. These include a dual-grate system.
The dual -grate system requires installing a grate just before the Nordmore grate to help cull, sort and return to the ocean the small shrimp and therefore retain more of the larger shrimp. Bringing larger shrimp onboard not only protects the next generations of shrimp, but it also allows consumers access to larger size shrimp that is wild and local. The large shrimp that’s currently on the market and most consumers seem to be looking for are farmed and imported – certainly not local or sustainable.
On Tuesday, November 24, 2009 Ken La Valley and Pingguo He of New Hampshire Sea Grant met with the CSF team to discuss the use of the dual-grate. The meeting took place at the offices of the Massachusetts Fishermen’s Partnership in Gloucester.
“Fishermen supplying shrimp to the Cape Ann Fresh Catch CSF and the rest of our team met with the UNH gear researchers just last week to learn how the dual-grate works since they will be using this gear this winter,” said Steve Parke, Cape Ann Fresh Catch’s boat-to-table coordinator. “This new gear will allow us to deliver the freshest local shrimp while ensuring the small shrimp go back into the ocean alive to contribute to the next generation of shrimp.”
“To be able to compete in the shrimp market which is flooded with the large, farmed shrimp having the tools that allow the local fishermen to catch bigger shrimp throughout the season is important,” said Niaz Dorry, director of the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, which supports the creation of CSFs. “Almost all of the large shrimp that makes it to the US plates is farmed shrimp raised in tropical countries. The shrimp is raised under highly questionable conditions and certainly not sustainable by any measure we value. Reports of pesticides use, antibiotics, yield promoters and other chemicals are constant. We have even gotten reports of child labor violations in some countries.”
“In many countries, coastal waters are privatized to make room for farmed shrimp. In some countries such as India, the shrimp aquaculture facilities’ attempts to keep the salinity levels optimum have contaminated fresh water tables under the shrimp pens. Fishing communities have protested against shrimp farms both in the US and in countries where these farms are rampant. Some protests have led to bloodshed,” said Sanfilippo. “By providing shrimp we not only support our local fishermen, we also take the pressure of farmed shrimp off our fellow fishermen and fishing communities around the world. Everyone wins.”
For more information, please visit www.gfwa.org. For a list of drop off locations and to download the winter share contract, please visit http://namanet.org/csf/cape-ann-fresh-catch. You can also become a fan of Cape Ann Fresh Catch on Facebook and follow the CSF on Twitter for the latest updates.