The New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium and Rutgers Cooperative Extension have teamed up with Sea Salt CSA to launch a consumer seafood share program that will feature local fin- and shellfish and help support the livelihoods of small-scale fishermen. The program will become a part of an existing local community supported agriculture (CSA) program, which connects local farmers to consumers. This new community supported fishery project (CSF) will offer coastal residents the option to purchase a seafood share from Sea Salt CSA this season from June through October and provide them with a taste of fresh, responsibly harvested, locally caught seafood. Similar to vegetable shares in CSA programs, the makeup of seafood shares will ultimately be determined by the availability of product in a given week. For now, the shares will only be only available to current Sea Salt CSA customers.
The project is part of a trial being led by The New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium’s Extension Program and Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Ocean County. Rutgers’ Gef Flimlin and New Jersey Sea Grant’s coastal communities agent, Caroline McLaughlin, will act as liaisons between Sea Salt CSA’s owner Jennifer LaMonaca and the local seafood sources, which include six New Jersey seafood businesses: Viking Village in Barnegat Light, Lund’s Fisheries Inc. in Cape May, Nautical Nuggets Clam Farms in Ocean View, Maxwells’ Shellfish in Port Republic, Point Lobster Co. in Point Pleasant and LaMonica Fine Foods in Millville. This year’s seafood selections will include Mullica River oysters, farmed oysters, farmed clams, bluefish, porgy, scallops, lobster and canned clam sauce, and possibly more, depending on the catch. Flimlin and McLaughlin’s job will be to make sure the pilot project runs smoothly and to evaluate its success.
Every two weeks, the arrival of seafood shares will be accompanied by additional online resources describing the shares. Shareholders will receive a short description of the seafood producer, the species being offered, recipe suggestions, and instructions for preparation. Shareholders will also be notified about other relevant events, such as seafood cooking classes or dock tours. McLaughlin hopes that testing the waters with these seafood shares will help increase the amount of local, fresh, and nutritious seafood available to local consumers, support the livelihoods of local fishermen, and increase awareness of how important it is to broaden the scope of the local foods movement. CSF programs have been growing in popularity in coastal areas across the country, since the first one started in 2007 in New England. While they are new to New Jersey, Flimlin feels more and more Garden State CSAs will be adding a seafood component to their season by next year.
The New Jersey Grant Consortium is an affiliation of colleges, universities and other groups dedicated to advancing knowledge and stewardship of New Jersey’s marine and coastal environment. NJSGC meets its mission through its innovative research, education and outreach programs. For more information about NJSGC, visit njseagrant.org