This year will usher in a lot of big changes for New England fishermen, as they are facing deep cuts in groundfish quotas and must find innovative ways to make ends meet. With the help of N.H. Sea Grant/UNH Cooperative Extension staffers, Seacoast locals are putting together a campaign to find solutions to keep fishermen going amidst the challenges that loom for the coming years. The first in a series of meetings was held at the Portsmouth Public Library on Feb. 6, 2013 to address what can be done.
“The time is now to pull together the voices in the fishing community for a broader campaign,” said Erik Chapman, commercial fisheries specialist for N.H. Sea Grant/UNH Cooperative Extension who led the meeting. “We need to develop trust and synergy between us in all these efforts.”
The goal of the meeting was for these individuals to meet and discuss their ability to contribute to such a campaign. The campaign’s steering committee will likely comprise more than a dozen individuals ranging from fishermen, chefs, seafood distributors, non-profit groups and UNHCE/NHSG specialists.
The marketing campaign — its name is forthcoming — hopes to educate the public about the availability and sustainability of locally caught fish. Cod and other groundfish will be available but in very limited quantities as they are being managed for improved sustainability in their stocks. In the meantime, other species will be more prominent including hake, pollock, redfish, softshell lobsters and dogfish. The attendees acknowledged that public perception is a big hurdle, as they simply haven’t been exposed to these species on most restaurant menus.
The goal of the campaign will be to foster a connection between fishermen and consumers and to offer members of the Seacoast community the opportunity to participate in a movement that will help preserve our fishing heritage and conserve our marine resources (visit NHseafood.com for more information on our fishermen and where you can buy local seafood)
There was a lot of energy in the room and it was clear that everyone is dedicated to working together to find solutions for the year ahead.