Working Waterfront Panel with the BTLT
As Cody Gills, Chair of Brunswick’s Marine Resource Committee, shellfish harvester and commercial fisherman put it, “There are a lot more fish in the ocean than haddock.” Gillis was one of four panelists that were part of a recent panel discussion, “Fisheries in Our Town,” that was co-hosted by the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust (BTLT) and MCFA.
Quang Nguyen, another panelist who owns Brunswick’s Fishermen’s Net Seafood shop and restaurant, added that in Vietnam, where he grew up, everything is farmed. “In Maine, it’s amazing how many choices there are. It’s just that not everyone knows about them or what to do with them,” he said. Jaclyn Robidoux, a panelist from Maine Sea Grant added, “If I gave most people a plate of kelp, they wouldn’t know what to do with it.”
Local food writer and editor of edible Maine, Christine Rudalevidge, suggested that people who want to learn how to cook different types of seafood look at resources like the Seafood Nutrition Partnership and also MCFA’s cookbook, Catch, for which she contributed a recipe. Value added products like MCFA’s Maine Coast Monkfish Stew, are also a good way to introduce people to new species.
Attendees were able to sample the Stew which features sustainably harvested monkfish along with Maine produce and dairy. Proceeds from the sale of the Stew benefit MCFA’s Fishermen Feeding Mainers program that donates fresh seafood to schools, food pantries and community groups statewide.
There was a lively discussion between the panelists as well as members of the audience covering topics like what the working waterfront means to different people and what challenges are facing those working on the waterfront. Access was highlighted as a significant challenge.
The balmy Wednesday evening also included a discussion of climate change and the shifts in species distribution and seasonality that those working on the water are observing. Keeping up with the regulations that each fishery must comply with is another significant challenge. “Make sure your seafood was caught by a Maine fisherman,” said Rudalevidge. “We have to reward them for sticking to such stringent regulations.” Nguyen echoed this, adding that when he grew up in Vietnam people used explosives to catch fish and there were virtually no regulations. “Now there are no fish there unless you go far out into the ocean,” he said.
The panel was a fitting end to October’s National Seafood Month - a celebration of how lucky we are in Maine to have locally harvested seafood that supports not just the harvesters but the entire working waterfront.
If you missed the event and are interested in hearing more of the discussion, a recording will be available here.
MCFA will be hosting another Working Waterfront panel in Kennebunk at the Conservation Trust in early December. FMI email firstname.lastname@example.org.