From the Wheelhouse of Tom Santaguida, Maine Lobsterman
By Tom Santaguida
F/V Caroline Elizabeth
Since the recent development of expanded direct sales from fishermen and harvesters to customers, I have observed an opportunity for customers and fishermen to get to know and understand each other better.
Typically, in the past, a customer might show up at a lobster wharf when lobster boats are out hauling -- or unloading at the end of the day. If the boats are out hauling there is zero chance for any interaction between a fisherman and a customer. At the end of a 10-12-14 hour day of lobstering, the chance of a quality interaction is also diminished. Boats wait to unload and ready the vessel for the next day, everyone is hurrying and very tired and very busy. Fishermen, at that time of the day, typically just want to hurry home, spend time with their family, eat and get to bed for the next day. I have watched excited visitors try to talk to super-tired lobstermen to only be kind of disappointed. They just don't understand what happened all day before that time. But an analogy might be trying to talk to a surgeon about being a doctor after the surgeon just performed a 10-hour surgery. It's all about timing! The timing right now of direct seafood sales is pretty good to encourage the customer/fisherman connection.
The current situation is kind of cool. Customers and fishermen are interacting -- people are asking questions about boats, traps, how much time it takes to haul traps, how they work -- and the fishermen are in an environment when direct selling that there is an opportunity to answer and they are. It is kind of fun. I have had people ask to stay in touch with me; send them recipes; etc. etc. etc.
So, customers should feel free and are encouraged to ask what boat caught the lobsters, what the boat's name is and what the fisherman's or fisherwoman's name is. It is a great opportunity for everyone all around to learn about commercial fishing and the people and boats that make it happen. Fishermen are generally pretty proud of what they do and certainly of their boats - so now is a great time for all this.
Direct sales of lobster and crabs during peak lobstering will surely pose some challenges to this dynamic and many other things -- but so far, every fisherman I know - to a person - has been very appreciative and encouraged by all the support of direct sales.
So, thank you!
Have a great day.