Covid-19: Support Maine's Fishermen
Updated: Mar 24, 2020
To say that things are unprecedented and difficult seems like an understatement. We are all navigating unfamiliar waters and trying to find things to do while isolated at home and, well, trying to stay sane. The MCFA staff is working overtime to support Maine fishermen, helping them find neighbors who want to buy seafood, advocating for their inclusion in the stimulus package, and finding ways to remind everyone to stay healthy and safe. And while we are doing all that, we are also trying to eat more seafood.
The Maine Coast Fishermen's Association has created a public group on Facebook for Mainers and fishermen. The Maine Seafood Connection is where fishermen and seafood businesses can post product they have for sale and local seafood consumers can find the best seafood in the world (aka Maine seafood). We have also been posting helpful articles, resources, and of course, the occasional entertaining meme.
Our hope is that not only will people recognize just how important fishermen are to the food system, providing healthy, fresh, protein to consumers, but that perhaps people will take this unique situation, albeit unprecedented and confusing, to introduce more seafood to their diets, and even learn a new skill: how to fillet!
This past week, some of our staff has gotten a little more seafood than usual from places like Gulf of Maine Sashimi and Cantrell's Seafood. Both of these businesses are working with fishermen to create opportunities for consumers to access local delicious fish like flounders, pollock, monkfish, and scallops.
Mary said, "I’ve decided to commit to cooking myself a nice seafood dinner at least twice a week during these times to treat my taste buds, explore new recipes, and, most importantly, support our local fishing communities and businesses. Today I went to Cantrell’s in Topsham and bought some delicious Maine scallops!"
Ben made some pollock with butter, lemon, garlic, and spices.
"The secret to great cooking is to find a good recipe and then double the butter." Ben
Monique got a bunch of whole flounders to fillet because, well, what else is she doing? Flounders can be a bit more challenging to fillet because they are flatter but it only takes a couple of tries to understand what you need to cut. This video on YouTube is pretty helpful. Make sure your knife is sharp!
Fishermen are not unfamiliar with uncertainty, how they are going to make ends meet, crashing markets, and often unforeseeable and unpredictable challenges and obstacles. What makes this situation so unfamiliar is our health and that everyone else is also weathering this storm. As the days pass, it's harder and harder to try to keep our eyes on the silver lining of such an unprecedented and honestly, scary, time but we do hope that out of all this we learn something. Whether that's learning how to spend our time more wisely, how to take care of ourselves a bit more, or how to support each other more as human beings.
We often talk about "humanizing the fishing industry" at MCFA. We work to restore the fisheries in the Gulf of Maine and sustain Maine's fishing communities for future generations so that fishermen can continue to fish and work in an industry that is intrinsically tied to their identities. We care about the fish, but it's the people that matter. Fishermen are an integral part of the food system in a place like Maine and unfortunately often a forgotten part. Even now, while people are stocking up on good food and creating efforts to thank those that are providing "fishermen" don't usually make the list.
Local seafood is healthy, fresh, sustainable, high in protein, delicious, and a valuable part of the economy and culture in Maine. The fishermen who catch that seafood, whether it's halibut, hake, pollock, tuna, scallops, or lobster, are providing this important food. They depend on markets and restaurants and consumers, and therefore, are also heavily impacted by the current state of the world.
So, here's the silver lining, and maybe something to keep your mind off things: Go buy whole fish and learn how to fillet. Cook a good meal for you or your family or leave something on your neighbor's doorstep. Introduce more Maine seafood into your diet, and then when this is all over, keep eating seafood. Keeping seeking out local seafood and supporting fishermen. Remember that fishermen are part of the food system and that we need them, and we need to support them.
We want to see you cutting and eating fish! Tag us on social media (@mainecoastfishermen)
Together, we persevere.
Ben, Monique, Mary, Pam, and Karen