Problems facing small-scale fishery ‘too big to ignore’

Josh Pennell
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Ever wonder why you can’t walk into a local fish market and buy fresh local seafood even though you’re surrounded by water? Well, don’t feel like you’re one fish in a vast ocean, because you are not alone.

According to its website, “Too big to ignore” is a six-year project in humanities and social sciences, the goal of which is to encourage anyone interested in saving small-scale fisheries, and reaping the benefits of buying seafood from such enterprises, to band together and let their opinion on the subject be known. As any caplin will tell you, there’s power in numbers.

“Slow Fish Canada” was an event put off by members of the “Too big to ignore” endeavour in St. John’s Wednesday evening at the Rocket Room. Dave Adler, one of the organizers, who works at the Ecological Action Centre in Halifax, said the global market has killed the local one when it comes to seafood.

“At some point, for some reason along the way, I think that people dropped the ball and stopped thinking about the local market for seafood.”

But there are people out to change that. “Slow Fish Canada” is just one group in a network that is now global, but it’s a global network that’s thinking locally. Adler said it’s all about bringing together consumers, chefs, fish harvesters, managers, policy-makers — anybody interested in saving and rebuilding small-scale fisheries and the communities that rely on them.

“(To) really try and re-establish a local and regional value chain for seafood,” he said.

At the Rocket Room on Wednesday, more than 50 people gathered to eat good local seafood and discuss the issues facing small-scale fisheries and how they can be overcome. According to Adler, trying to save small-scale fisheries in such a way isn’t in vain.

“It’s happening,” he said.

Using the social and cultural approach to discussing the subject has led to community-supported fisheries programs in certain areas, he said, and that’s the start of turning the tide.

Organizations: Ecological Action Centre

Geographic location: Halifax

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