Thursday, March 14, 2013

Local Restaurant hosts local food dinner featuring locally sourced fish

The All Local Dinner Menu

New Hampshire Sea Grant joined Chef Evan Mallett and Seacoast Local at his restaurant, The Black Trumpet Bistro, this past Tuesday night for a special dinner.  The meal was a 50-mile challenge local food dinner, part of Seacoast Local’s Field and Spoon Dinner series.  The event was sold out, with approximately 35 diners present.  NH Sea Grant, though not an event host, did support the dinner by donating the local seafood that Chef Mallett made the central features of his dinner.  The challenge of the dinner series was for the participating chefs to create a menu with local food sourced from a 50-mile radius a feat, which Mallett joked was a little difficult in March!

Buttermilk mackerel

Before people arrived, Dr. Gabriela Bradt, who was NH Sea Grant’s representative for 
the evening was invited into the kitchen as Evan and his staff were busy preparing the meal. Evan was thinly slicing the scallops that he had gotten from The R/V Rimrack and he was excited to show just how fresh they were. As he sliced into the scallops, they were still moving! Evan commented “you can’t get any fresher than this”. 

Fresh Scallops 
Chef Evan Mallett, Black Trumpet Bistro

The event began promptly at 6 PM and the downstairs dining area of the Black Trumpet was elegantly set and the atmosphere was warm and inviting.  As people were seated, the staff brought out a “Seren-dippity Spring Farmhouse Ale”, a beer specially blended for the event by Throwback Brewery located in North Hampton.  Shortly thereafter, the first course - a Raw scallop and Nettle brodo (broth) - was served.  

Dave Boynton, Seacoast Local

During this course, Seacoast Local Director Dave Boynton and board member, Amy Winans spoke about the dinner series and about the Seacoast Local mission and current programs and events.  Chef Mallett then came out and explained that he agreed to partner with Seacoast Local in putting on the event because he is a huge supporter and believer in the eat local movement. 

Sauteed Maine Shrimp

Mallett went on to “introduce” the menu and explain where all the food came from and how he had to “break the 50-mile rule” in order to obtain some of the ingredients (the Nettles for the brodo came from RI!).  Evan explained that all the seafood came from local dayboats because they only fished within that 50-mile radius. The seafood featured, shrimp, scallops, mackerel and hake all came either from Maine or directly from the Seacoast (R/V Rimrack and Seaport Fish). 

Salted hake chowder

After Evan finished speaking he excused himself because he was also preparing food for his regular customers!  The meal was served family style and proceeded with dish after dish, all beautifully presented. Towards the end of the meal, Dr. Bradt briefly spoke about NH Sea Grant’s involvement with the dinner and spoke about the efforts of NH Sea Grant and University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension to support the local fishing industry by encouraging people to buy from their local fishermen and other local seafood suppliers.  

Find fresh NH-caught seafood

Dr. Bradt directed the diners to the newly redesigned website to get more information about where to get NH-caught seafood and from whom.  She explained that in 2013, with the help of a steering committee made up of fishermen, chefs and other industry representatives, NH Sea Grant would be unveiling a marketing campaign and effort to promote the NH Fresh and Local seafood brand, holding events and participating in other programs in support of the local fishermen and the eat local movement.

Lots of diners interested in local seafood

After a delicious peach-based dessert, the dinner ended and from the conversation and the smiles all around, it seemed as if the event was a huge success.  The last in the dinner series will be held at the Kitchen on April 13.

Yummy peach dessert

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Talking about how to protect the little guy…

As part of the “ Who Fishes Matters Tour” sponsored by the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA) a forum on “Catch Shares and Community Safeguards” was held at the Portsmouth Public Library on March 4, 2013.  The forum was well attended, with a mixed audience ranging from UNH students, to local fishermen, academics and other community representatives.  The “ Who Fishes Matters” tour is an attempt to promote discussion across New England regarding better policies and protections for the fishing industry. 

The “ Catch Share and Community Safeguards” forum opened the discussion surrounding the proposed Amendment 18 to the groundfish management plan by the New England Fisheries Management Council (NEFMC) which will be up for consideration on Wednesday, March 6.  Amendment 18 would consider establishing accumulation caps and other issues associated with fleet diversity.  Accumulation caps would potentially provide protection to the smaller boat fleet diversity as well as limit any one entity from having disproportionate control of the total allowable catch.  The establishment of these safeguards and provisions in Amendment 18 are necessary since the implementation of the sector management and catch share system in New England in 2010.  In the two years since the sector management system was put in place, local fishermen have noted an increase in fleet consolidation has taken place.  Fleet consolidation means fewer and fewer smaller boats can keep fishing.  As of 2012 there has been approximately a 63% decrease in the New England groundfish fleet.

Catch share systems that have been implemented without any safeguards in other areas of the world have led to the collapse of the small boat fleets.  Ellen Goethel, the wife of local fisherman and NEFMC member, David Goethel, explained that because quota can be bought or leased within the catch share system, those with access to high amounts of capital- namely the larger boats - can quickly buy up all the quota, forcing others to have to lease to fish, which in many cases is unsustainable for smaller boats.  Interestingly, some of the safeguards that are currently being proposed as part of Amendment 18 such as 20% accumulation cap, had already been written into the catch share system in New England, but the NEFMC removed that provision.

Much of the discussion at Monday night’s forum centered around the 5 provisions being considered in Amendment 18 including:
1) Quota Caps
2) maintaining inshore and offshore fleets
3) quota set-asides
4) transparent leasing provisions
5) owner-operator provisions

Regarding the inshore-offshore fleets, some participants suggested that the only equitable way of dealing with larger boats fishing inshore would be to implement a system where boats would have to sign in to either fishing offshore or fishing inshore but that once declared, that boat could only fish in the declared area.  This would hopefully limit the large boats from fishing inshore and allow the less sea-worthy inshore fleet more access.  Most people agreed that pursuing Amendment 18 was worthwhile although some felt that in the end it might be a ‘too little, too late” situation, but that safeguards for protecting the smaller boats, the diversity of the fleet and the ability for the next generation to enter into fishing  was essential.