Learning to support local fishing
A four-week special study at our church looking into the future of our oceans concluded on Wednesday, Nov. 17 with a discussion about how communities can support their local fishermen.
The next step will be to determine how the Cape Elizabeth United Methodist Church congregation, along with friends and families from the Cape and surrounding communities, can utilize lessons learned during the four weeks of discussions and turn them into a realistic plan.
The final night of discussions centered on CSFs (Community Supported Fisheries), led by Anne D. Burt from the Maine Council of Churches and supported by Tracy Pearce, the wife of a fisherman from North Yarmouth.
CSFs are based on communities coming together to purchase shrimp and fish directly from local fishermen and having the shrimp and/or fish delivered once a week for a specified amount of time.
CSFs are relatively new, but are modeled after Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs.
The First Universalist Church in Rockland, Maine, working with the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, in 2007 began the first CSF in New England in the Port Clyde area. Members of the congregation and others in the community purchased shares to buy shrimp from local fisherman, a program that in later years expanded to the purchase of fish.
Now the next step:
After the four-week Fishes and Loaves series of discussions at our church, the possibility of establishing a CSF associated with the CEUMC is being explored. On the final night of the discussions Anne Burt, Tracy Pearce and Rev. Ruth Morrison led discussions on how it could happen — getting church members and area residents to purchase shares to support the catch of Cape Elizabeth-area fishermen.
The Maine shrimp season begins on Dec. 1 and it was discussed that a CSF could be put into place in the first quarter of next year for the purchase of shrimp. Tracy Pearce will be checking with local fishermen and Ruth Morrison will be weighing the interest of the congregation to determine whether a CSF could become a reality.
There currently are no CSF programs in the Portland area.
To learn more about the CSF shares offered by the First Universalist Church in Rockland, click here: CSF
The four-week Fishes and Loaves study and reflection at our church on our oceans was sponsored by the Maine Council of Churches and analyzed how our oceans and fishing communities — like ours — are being affected by environmental changes and state/federal public policies.
The group that gathered at CEUMC on Oct. 27 had the opportunity to reflect on their own experiences with the ocean, in addition to viewing the film. Eric Smith, associate director of the Maine Council of Churches, led some of the discussions and Rev. Ruth Morrison hosted the event.
The second week was led by Mark Green, a marine science professor at St. Joseph’s College. Dr. Green discussed ocean acidification and its impact on Maine shellfish and sea life, based on his own studies.
The third week focused on the state of today’s fishing grounds, concerns over over-fishing, and the challenges facing fishermen and lobstermen based on ever-changing regulations and policies.
Each gathering has included members of our church and other churches, and members of the Cape Elizabeth community, including a local fisherman.