Sea to Table – Connecting Fishermen to Families

Seatotable

Erik and John Bahrt of F/V Kristina from Sitka, Alaska, photo courtesy of S2T.

At South Shore Organics, we are committed to local, independent food system, families feeding families. We are always on the lookout to see how we can support other like-minded organizations so it is with great pride that we announce a partnership with Sea to Table, and I wanted to share all the great reasons we chose to work with them.

Firstly, they are a registered B Corp, required to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. That sounds like us already! Their definition of ‘sustainable fisheries’ extends beyond just the number of fish in the ocean, they also work with sustainability ranking agencies, environmental partners, emerging scientific data and the fishermen themselves to achieve their goals.Did you know, fish have seasons just like vegetables do? Sea to Table works closely with docks and fishermen to identify key species for their cold storage programs. They then buy a fishermen’s entire catch at the peak of the season and process it at the dock to ensure that a well-priced, consistent local product is delivered year round. The fish are minimally handled, and never sent overseas for processing (like most frozen fish available in the supermarket). All the fish is cut, frozen, and packed at local docks, and is traceable back to specific fishing boats.

They work with both independent fishermen, and some local docks. Their partners are small-scale domestic fisheries so that they can offer full transparency, traceability with a lower carbon foot print all the while supporting traditional fishing communities, like New Bedford. They don’t work with fishermen they don’t know, and they never warehouse fresh fish. Each dock has a certified HACCP on-site cutting and packing facility, subject to state and health inspections, which means as the fish comes in, if it wasn’t filleted and portioned on the way in, it is done at the dock within hours of being caught. S2T only works with licensed fishermen who have appropriate cold storage facilities both on their boats, and at the point of landing and packing – ensuring the catch is always delivered to you fresh!

The other advantage is that they work with fishermen up and down the East Coast, and in Alaska, so we can source sustainably caught fish from outside of our immediate area, as well as the local catch. I did try some of their products prior to listing them on our website as available for residential deliveries, and have to say the fillets defrosted beautifully, were not spongy like some frozen fish, they smelled fresh, and were delicious. We offered Pollock on our website last week, and this week decided to offer Alaskan troll-caught Salmon. Troll-caught salmon is wild caught, and the fish are caught on lines instead of nets, a farm more sustainable method since nets tend to be a catch all, pulling everything out of the water including the salmon.

Some of the local ports we are supporting with this initiative: New Bedford, which is one of our country’s oldest fishing ports, and is the setting of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick (I didn’t know that!). Today the dock is especially known for its exceptional day boat scallops. Fall River, originally inhabited by the Pokanoket Wampanoag tribe, Portuguese settlers brought their fishing culture which continues to dominate the Fall River waterfront today. Narragansett, established as a small fishing village in the mid 1800s, and by the early 1900s was one of the largest ports on the east coast. Today it is an active port as well as a thriving tourist hub.

We are encouraged and inspired by this group, and would love to see more initiatives like it popping up within our food system!

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