Fisheries Extension Specialist – NH Sustainable Marine Fisheries Program, UNH Cooperative Extension/NH Sea Grant, Affiliated with Department of Earth Science.
I work with fishermen and lobstermen, dealers and related business people that carry NH harvested seafood to market (restaurants, retailers, farmers’ markets).
Mainly, we work in Rockland County, but are increasingly active trying to help fishermen meet demand for local, traceable, fresh seafood further inland.
What is the main opportunity or challenge your work seeks to address in the food system?
Our mission is to support development and maintenance of sustainable marine fisheries and aquaculture. The ‘old’ way of doing business for NH fishermen increasingly unable to supply a livable wage for our small, day-boat fishermen and their families. The ‘old’ way is represented, generically, as fishermen landing their fish, and somehow delivering catch to auctions that direct seafood through a mysterious chain-of-custody involving many middle-men; a system where significant profits are realized outside of fishing communities. Alternative markets that deliver higher prices to boats and related, shore-side businesses and that can adapt to seasonal and annual changes in fish availability will be a critical piece to a fishery that meets both economic and ecological sustainability goals. However, developing these markets requires establishing new chains of custody, business relationships, and business and marketing approaches and skills that are not always immediately available in fishing communities.
Our Food Systems Work is related to facilitating the development or importation (through partnerships) of these resources strategically to enable emergence of an economically stronger and more resilient fishing community.
If we think of the food system as an ecosystem, what are the main food “ecosystem services” your work depends on or aims to support or cultivate?
The primary “ecosystem services” we aim to provide include delivering a livable wage and a resilient livelihood to fishing families and related businesses while conserving marine resources. Local demand creates one opportunity to meet these goals, but it’s uncertain to what extent this can have a meaningful impact for fishermen.
Please share a success story or an example of an effort related to your work that others should know about. (Examples of efforts to cultivate, balance ecosystem services in the food system, promote connectivity, etc.)
Organizing a ‘2013 local catch marketing campaign’ steering committee comprised of a representation of fishermen, lobstermen, dealers, chefs, retailers. The fishing industry is full of fierce independence, competition, and rivalries, and creating a space where these entities can look at each other as resources rather than rivals has been an accomplishment that I hope will lead to meaningful movement in organizing folks to access alternative markets in a way that raises the water for the fishing boats and related businesses.
Developing a partnership between seafood dealers in NH, NH Groundfish Sectors, and a Boston-based company that has developed web-based software that could help revolutionize reporting efficiency and allow traceable and product from NH to meet the marketplace.
- Food System Profiles are being compiled to help illustrate work within the food system across the state of New Hampshire, partnerships and connections between projects and organizations, and opportunities for collaboration -