By Charlie French and Ken LaValley
Residents of New Hampshire’s seacoast region can now purchase locally and sustainably-caught shrimp and lobster direct from local fishermen at the Winter Farmers’ Markets. With shrimp and lobster prices at near 20-year lows, this is just the boost that local fishermen need.
New Hampshire’s rich history in commercial fishing has helped to shape the state’s character and sense of community. In fact, commercial fishing has been a vital component of the state’s economy for over two centuries and has grown to a multi-million dollar industry in New Hampshire employing approximately 100 commercial fishermen. Equally important, recent economic studies based on National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) data suggests that New Hampshire’s seafood industry has lead to the creation of approximately 250 jobs in other sectors including food processing, tourism, restaurants, boatyards, etc.
However, the seafood industry is at a critical juncture that will determine its future viability. On the one hand, fishing regulations aimed at protecting declining fish stocks have made it difficult for commercial fishermen to turn a profit. Couple this with rock-bottom prices for shrimp and lobster, commercial fishermen worry that their livelihood is in jeopardy.
The question is; how can the shrimp and lobster industries sustain the resource and increase profits from fish sales? The answer may lie in establishing direct markets for local and sustainably-caught seafood.
This winter, the Yankee Seafood Co-op, based out of Seabrook, New Hampshire, will begin selling shrimp and lobster direct to consumers at Winter Farmers’ Markets sponsored by Seacoast Eat Local. As Bob Campbell, Manager of the co-op explains, the idea is to build stronger links between the commercial fishermen and local fresh markets and area restaurants. And what better venue than a farmers’ market where a variety of locally produced foods can be purchased.
If you are interested in purchasing locally-caught seafood, below are the dates and locations of upcoming farmers markets where pre-packaged shrimp will be available in the Seacoast:
• Saturday, February 7th from 10am-2pm at 21 Front Street, Exeter, New Hampshire
• Saturday, Saturday, March 7, 10am-2pm at Stratham Town Hall, Stratham, New Hampshire
More information about these winter farmers’ markets is available at www.seacoasteatlocal.org