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Community Supported Fisheries Can Jump-start Coastal Economy After Hurricane Sandy

In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, local food networks, including local fisheries, need your help.  Last week, we spread the word about funding disaster relief efforts for fisheries and fishery-related businesses.

Now, with more news from the coastal zone trickling out, there’s more that consumers can do.

Shellfish

Village Fishmonger NYC works with fishermen in the tri-state area [New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut]; the hardest hit docks and shellfisheries (in New Jersey) have suffered significant losses.  Our latest intelligence indicates that nearly all New Jersey shellfish hatcheries have sustained damage; two of the largest have near-100% loss in infrastructure.

Devastated Hatchery on the Shore. Photo by Jackie Rush.

 

There is good news for many of these baymen and shellfisheries – while Hurricane Sandy’s waves, storm surges, and winds decimated docks, hatchery houses, power lines, and boats, early signs point to safe and secure clam and oyster beds.  Rising sea waters during the storm insulated most of the clams and oysters from the worst of the storm’s effects.  As such, we’re hopeful that once these aquaculture and shellfishery operations get their docks and processing facilities rebuilt, the fishery will bounce back!

Fin Fish

For the finfisheries, many coastal New Jersey and New York docks also sustained heavy damage, especially to processing and shipping facilities.  Even the operations that survived relatively unscathed are being impacted by the loss of power, difficult-to-find fuel, and inaccessibility of nearby urban markets.  To make matters worse, many docks are in areas with travel restrictions and no power – making it impossible to even start bringing in supplies for rebuilding.

New Jersey’s commercial fishermen landed and processed seafood valued at almost $200 million dollars at the dock in 2011. These landings generated more than $1 billion dollars in economic activity for the state, so the immediate and long-term effects of the storm will have major impacts on local economies.

Just this week, the Garden State Seafood Association (GSSA), which represents the interests of most New Jersey commercial fishermen, asked Governor Chris Christie to declare a fishery disaster – a move that would free up significant federal funds for rebuilding.

How To Help

Overall, we suggest you buy local – fish, produce, beverages, and fashion.

Fish.  Perhaps the best way to help coastal fisheries is to boost the demand for their products.  When out at restaurants in storm-ravaged areas, ask for local fish and that day’s catch.  Also, check out community supported fisheries (like ours!), where you can order for a few months’ fish in advance – a move that can (depending on the CSF) result in the fishermen getting more capital to start repairs with. Find out more about CSFs here, and search for CSFs near you here.

Produce, Beverages, Fashion. With Thanksgiving coming up, besides the traditional turkey, think about adding seafood to the mix so that the very act of getting together for a meal with family and friends can be a regenerative gesture for whole communities.  Along those lines, look for local farm-to-table CSAs (community supported agriculture) near you, where you can get farm-fresh veggies.  Also, spending money at local craft breweries and wineries in storm-torn regions will directly send funds to those that need it most (and help support new small businesses).  Finally, there are fashion options – t-shirt companies and clothing sites that are giving proceeds to local communities.

We ask you to please take a moment to think about how you might contribute to these local businesses and communities in the upcoming weeks and months. Donations to The Red Cross and The Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties are a good place to start for overall aid to the areas affected by Sandy.

Maxwell's Infrastructure Damage. Photo by Kim Maxwell

 

Village Fishmonger is a New York City-based seafood start-up that brings local, responsibly harvested seafood to NYC direct from fishermen and baymen from the tri-state area.  Learn more about the Village Fishmonger CSF and seafood sourcing at www.VillageFishmongerNYC.com.