Stoll quoted on whether community supported seafood is a model for the future
By the mid-2000s, reality was hitting hard: The commercial seafood supply and distribution chain was all but broken. Overfishing had depleted fish stocks and, in turn, marine biodiversity. By and large, fish had become a commodity caught in one place, trucked to a processor in another and then sold to stores and restaurants.
In response, federal and state fisheries enacted regulations to ensure more sustainable management, which tightened up catch quotas and technical rules for fishermen. These were necessary moves, but they came with consequences. “Not only did this start eroding fishermen’s capacity to operate, but it also eroded the shoreline infrastructure, so you lost fish houses and processing facilities,” explains Joshua Stoll, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Maine School of Marine Sciences.
Just seven years after the nation’s first-known CSF was launched in Port Clyde, Maine, Stoll estimates that there are now 40 to 50 active organizations across the country. He helped start one of those CSFs, Walking Fish, in North Carolina in 2009. And inspired by the feedback and enthusiasm he received from similar groups trying to re-localize seafood in their respective communities, Stoll cofounded the website LocalCatch.org, which maintains a directory of CSFs and aims to cultivate dialogue around local and direct seafood.