Ecotrust helps launch Community Fisheries Network
By Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
A bicoastal coalition this week launched a network to support local fisheries, the Community Fisheries Network.
Ecotrust announced Wednesday that it helped to launch a new national organization that will promote regional fisheries by helping connect consumers with "community-caught" fish.
The Community Fisheries Network has 14 founding members, including Ecotrust and Port Orford Ocean Resources Team, both from Oregon.
Community-based fishing organizations, a classification recognized by national fisheries law, will work together through the network to educate communities about local fish and fisheries-related economic development opportunities.
Organizers say the network will also allow small fisheries to speak with a louder voice on policy issues and work together to create innovative business models and tap into new sources of capital.
The group is likely to learn from the folks in Port Orford.
In 2009, the Port Orford Ocean Resources Team launched Port Orford Sustainable Seafood which sells hook and line caught fish — its specialty is black cod — wholesale and retail.
"As far as I know it's the first time local people have access to local fish," said Aaron Longton, president of Port Orford Sustainable Seafood, of the group's local retail outlet, "without it being processed and turned into mystery fish."
Longton's group also sells fish through a community-supported fisheries model where consumers buy shares on a quarterly basis and automatically get a $25 shipment of fresh fish twice a month. Restaurants in the Rogue Valley and Eugene have also signed on as customers.
"Strong community groups are the key to well-managed fish stocks and healthy working waterfronts across the country," said Linda Behnken, head of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, in a press release. The association is another of the network's charter members.
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