EGLESTON SQ.—Getting fish so fresh that it was still swimming this morning is still an option for those who don’t like fishing in Jamaica Pond. Many JP residents are getting their seafood from the Gloucester fishermen with Cape Ann Fresh Catch (CAFC), who distribute their haul in Community Servings’ parking lot, at 18 Marbury Terrace, every Tuesday.
“People seem very pleased with it,” said Angela Sanfilippo, president of the Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association (GFWA), the organization that created and maintains CAFC. “We get calls every day” from people wanting to join, she said.
The fishermen of the community-supported fishery (CSF) bring whole cod, flounder fillets, fresh northern shrimp—whatever they catch—to 14 drop-off sites all over the state.
“It’s all local food, sold the same day it’s caught,” Sanfilippo said.
Much like a farm-share, members buy a share before the season starts, then receive regular deliveries at a designated delivery site. CAFC has many delivery options. Members can receive whole four-to-six pound fish, or two pounds of fish fillets, or a combination of both, on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.
“This was a great step in trying to eat local food year-round,” said Myrna Greenfield, a member and JP resident.
CAFC has almost 80 members in JP.
“JP has been a great support to the [fishing] community,” Sanfilippo said. “We’re very grateful.”
The idea is simple: Local fishermen are helped by having new, more sustainable, markets for their product. Because the distance traveled is smaller and its carbon footprint is greatly reduced, the environment benefits. By keeping all costs community-based, the local economy prospers. CAFC members get fresh seafood, and Community Servings gets the shares left behind by members, which end up in the meals they distribute for people who are homebound with serious illnesses.
“I think it’s wonderful,” Shops Howard, a member and JP resident, said. “It supports a troubled New England economy that’s trying to remake itself. And the fish taste like a million bucks.”
CAFC started deliveries all over the state in summer of 2009. Originally, Sanfilippo was hoping for 100 members.
“We had 700,” she said. “We had to delay the start of deliveries two weeks to deal with the demand.”
A Fall/Winter season is traditionally slower, Sanfilippo said, but CAFC still has 600 members this season.
“To make the commitment [in this season], that tells us that the members are really dedicated to our cause, to getting the best quality seafood they can get,” Sanfilippo said.
The Fall season, which will run through February, features cod, winter flounder, hake, pollock, haddock and northern shrimp, though nothing is guaranteed. If weather is too harsh, whole deliveries may be postponed.
The CAFC website is a trove of information. Beyond basic sign-up information, they have recipes for the various kinds of fish likely to turn up, prepping tips, and detailed instructional videos for adventurous members who want to try their hands at filleting their own fish.
The GFWA website explains that in traditional markets, fishermen chase whatever fish is fetching the highest price that week. CSF fishermen, in contrast, offer their catch at a fixed price per pound for the season, relieving the pressure to catch a certain kind of fish. Thus, CAFC fishermen give species and ecosystems time to recover and replenish their numbers.
CAFC fishermen are subject to “very strict environmental regulations,” Sanfilippo said. The fishermen must abide by rules formulated by the Department of Commerce and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, according to their website, and their catch is monitored at every landing, Sanfilippo said.
New members can sign up at CAFC’s website at www.capeannfreshcatch.org.