Would a Community Supported Fishery Work in Virginia?

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Would a Community Supported Fishery Work in Virginia?

When you think of eating local, what foods fill your imaginary plate? Maybe you think of vegetables and eggs, but what about fish? Would you even know where to find locally caught or farmed seafood if you wanted it? This spring Virginia Sea Grant will lead a team to determine whether it would make sense for local seafood producers could bring their catch to a community supported fishery.

Steamed crabs

Community supported fisheries are just one more way to bring local seafood, such as blue crabs, direct from fish farmers and watermen to consumers. ©Janet Krenn/VASG

by Janet Krenn

When you think of eating local, what foods fill your imaginary plate? Maybe you think of vegetables and eggs, but what about fish? Would you even know where to find locally caught or farmed seafood if you wanted it?

This spring Virginia Sea Grant will lead a team to determine whether it would make sense for local seafood producers to bring their catch to a community supported fishery.

Community supported fisheries (CSF) are similar to community supported agriculture. Individuals pay up front for a share of a harvest and pick up their share at a regularly scheduled time. Such systems assure producers that their food will be sold and give customers access to fresh, local foods, which may be otherwise hard to come by.

Although there isn’t a CSF in Virginia, other areas have already launched their CSFs and they’ve been successful. The feasibility study will look at whether the students, staff, and faculty of William & Mary and Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences and the surrounding local communities have enough interest to support a CSF.

To conduct the study, Virginia Sea Grant is partnering with W&M Mason School of Business, VIMS Green Team, W&M Law School’s Environmental Law Society, the W&M Student Environmental Action Coalition, and almost 100 other undergraduate and law students, who will help conduct marketing and legal research.

The CSF feasibility study is one of 12 proposals being funded through the College of William & Mary’s 2011 Green Fees Program, which supports initiatives to make campus more sustainable.