For many years, small farmers sold shares of their crops to the public in exchange for labor to help bring in the harvest. Fishermen across the country have been adapting this type of direct marketing strategy by establishing Community Supported Fisheries (CSF) programs.
Unlike the farm model, the CSF is primarily a financial agreement where customers prepay to receive a fresh catch. In these types of programs, subscribers share the same risks associated with many fishing businesses. Unlike farming, fishermen cannot always guarantee the catch and share holders are usually willing to accept the “day’s catch.” The CSF concept has grown in popularity in the past five years and more than 20 programs are active across the country, selling a variety of catch to the public.
On Long Island, there has been some level of interest being expressed towards establishing CSFs. In 2010, Sea Grant facilitated a forum to educate stakeholders about CFSs that are being administered in Massachusetts. The 2011 Long Island Small Farms Summit featured two panel discussions highlighting the CSF movement and similarities with values adopted by SlowFood and other movements that support small local producers.
Ann Rathkopf, President of SlowFood Hunting Chapter said, “The guarantee of freshness and connection with the people who produce our food has become an important part of how we eat. The local food movement would willingly support our fishermen by buying catch directly from them.”
Long Island does present several challenges that must be addressed in order for fishermen to implement their own CFS. Kris Vanderslice, a marketing consultant has teamed up with her brother, Mike, who is a fisherman, to conduct an online survey to measure public interest in establishing CSFs in New York as a means to promote local catch.
Sea Grant appreciates the potential benefits of CSFs in fishing communities and we are willing to work with the fishing industry and the public to identify and address the challenges that lay ahead.
— Antoinette Clemetson, NYSG Marine fisheries specialist