Earlier this month, the Island Institute’s Marine Programs Officer, Jennifer Litteral, and Port Clyde Marketing Cooperative Coordinator Laura Kramar climbed aboard the fishing boat SKIPPER for the first gear research trip of the Midcoast Fishermen’s Association (MFA). Not only was the day productive for the gear research work, but it was a day that also resulted in the first restaurant sale for Port Clyde Fresh Catch.

Although only totaling 69 pounds of fish, the catch was eagerly received. In addition to Litteral and Kramar, Gulf of Maine Research Institute’s Steve Eayres, Captain Glen Libby, and crew Gary Libby and Jason Morris took part in the trip. In addition to numerous monkfish and flounder, they hauled in a 41-pound halibut. In fact, the entire catch was sold to Café Miranda in Rockland before the boat even reached the docks.

“The restaurant owner practically danced when we delivered it,” said Kramer. “Wild caught fish sold by local fishermen is truly rare these days, especially seafood caught with a focus on environmental sustainability. It is going to be a most wonderful adventure watching this business grow and thrive through a combination of innovative gear modifications that reduce the boats’ impacts on fish stocks and the environment, new ways of marketing fish and shrimp, and political action.”

Two weeks of sales of Port Clyde Fresh Catch to local restaurants have followed the first sale brought about by the gear research trip. Selling fish directly to restaurants and through two Community Supported Fisheries (CSF) operations (see “Community supported fisheries: In Rockland a church hooks up with Port Clyde fishermen, page 1) are ways that the MFA is exploring to achieve reasonable, living wages for its members despite the low profit margins found in today’s globalized food systems and markets.

A standard fishing trip nets thousands of pounds of fish, much more than the early June research trip. As a result, each week the number of restaurants participating and the amount of fish sold to local restaurants grows.

Visit the website of the Midcoast Fishermen’s Association (www.midcoastfishermen.org) to learn more about the organization, the summer Community Supported Fisheries (CSF), and to find out which restaurants are among the first to carry Port Clyde Fresh Catch seafood.