In the summer of 2011, my local community supported fishery, ‘Off the Hook’ provided me with hands-on experience of what the theoretical and practi cal course load of Marine Management studies was teaching me. At the time I was completing my Masters in Marine Management from Dalhousie University in the port city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Immersed in the theories of sustainable seafood and the issues and challenges of fisheries management, I studied legislation, stock assessment and management strategies to encourage sustainable use of the ocean and its dwindling resources. With my first order from the community supported fishery, however, came a new realization: sustainable seafood and fisheries management is also about our relationship with food.
In order for individuals to help save the seas, we have to reconnect with our seafood and learn how to cook – how to cook fish we are not familiar with.
I can still remember a time, not too long ago, when I wasn’t sure what to make of sustainable seafood cookbooks. How could a cookbook help in the quest to save our oceans and the fish? Fish is a healthy, nutritious option and we should be encouraging people to eat more fish, but the flip side is that we need to encourage people to eat a larger variety of fish. The oceans offer us hundreds of species of fish we can eat. Cooking different fish requires different fish recipes and this is where cookbooks and online recipes can help.
One solution to a better use of our renewable wild-caught fish supply is diversification in the fish we bring to the table. Learning how to cook and prepare uncommon fish species is one way of creating individual involvement in the quest for a long-term solution. The community supported fishery offers us an opportunity to feel connected to the source of our fish, to try different fish, and to experiment with new ways of preparing them. This is why I firmly believe in the community supported fishery model. As I became more comfortable preparing fish, I was more willing to try something new. And I realized that on a personal level, I was doing something to help our oceans. If you would like to include wild-caught fish in your diet, but know there are fewer fish in the oceans, consider the community supported fishery close to you or talk to your community and start one up.
I made a video of my experience participating in ‘Off the Hook’ to share my journey from fish novice to fish connoisseur. The Fish Diaries: Lessons from the Hook is part education, part cooking show and part personal reflection on how I became more comfortable with fish. It demonstrates how easy it can be for anyone to not only prepare and cook fish, but also to become involved in important ocean-saving initiatives in their local community. I hope you enjoy!
For more information about Halifax’s CSF or to sign up for your very own fresh fish check out: http://www.offthehookcsf.ca/
To find out more about CSFs in North America and find the one close to you check out: www.localcatch.org