Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Always Root for the Underdog

To kick of the third week of my fellowship, I attended a NH Fresh & Local feature dinner that utilized  dogfish, an underutilized species, in all of the meal's courses.  The idea behind the dinner is to feature a species of fish that can be caught in large quantities, but most people would not typically choose to try.  By encouraging the community to expand their palates and try new fish the impact on the main fish species such as cod and shrimp can be lessened.  Dogfish is the species used for English fish 'n chips, and thus the majority of the dogfish catch is exported.  This feature dinner showed how dogfish can be utilized here as Chef Taylor of The Green Monkey (Portsmouth, NH) created three delicious courses for the crowd.

The dinner started with a taste of England as we experienced dogfish fish 'n chips! The reaction was very positive and the fish was quite tasty:
Appetizer- Dogfish fish 'n chips
The next course was was dogfish medallions wrapped in bacon.  The reaction to this was very positive and the flavor was great:
Course 1- Dogfish medallions wrapped in  bacon.
The second course was my personal favorite, and the favorite of many others as well: dogfish chowder made from artichoke and no potato- amazing!

Course 2- Dogfish chowder
The third and final meal course was dogfish kabobs with veggies and jasmine rice.  Chef Taylor really outdid himself, this and all the other courses were fantastic!

Course 3- Dogfish kabob
The best part of this dinner, though, was the positive atmosphere.  The community members who attended were clearly eager to be involved in keeping more of the seafood local and trying new species.  It was great to be able to walk around the room and hear how the guests had heard of the dinner and why they chose to come.  One couple that I particularly enjoyed talking to was so excited to try new things, and thank the fisherman who caught the 25lbs. of dogfish eaten that night. Overall, the dinner was a success and I would love play a larger role in another event such as this in the near future to excite the community and help the local fishing industry.

The Traveling Road Show

This week began an exciting campaign for the NH Fresh & Local brand! UNH grad student, Eliot Jones, and I are traveling locally to farmers markets to interact directly with the community and determine if a demand exists at these markets for fresh, local seafood.  Our traveling road show consists of a display, educational pamphlets on where to buy local seafood, and a brief survey.

Our display!
Yesterday was our first of many markets, which took place in Rye.  We arrived at the town center, set up our display and jumped right into making small talk about buying local seafood with those who stopped to view our display.  Although the market was relatively small, it was a great way to figure out what people were most interested in hearing about and how many people were willing to take the survey.

To me, it was exciting to see the positive reaction from the community.  The vast majority of people we spoke with were eager to learn of places they could  find locally caught fish and how it helps not only the fishermen but the environment and the community.  It's very encouraging to see the potential to bring seafood into farmers markets and keep the catch local! In the upcoming week we will travel to farmers markets in Portsmouth, Durham, Dover and Exeter, it's going to be a busy time, but Eliot and I are excited to work together on gathering and sharing as much information as we can!
Eliot and I at the Rye market. Photo courtesy of Eliot Jones.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Yesterday's Storm

Today was an entirely different kind of experience that I was able to share with Fisheries Extension Specialist, Gabby Bradt, and Fisherman Lee Schatvet (LJ).  Gabby, LJ and a local nonprofit have worked together on the Marine Debris to Energy project. LJ has been a great example of a fisherman doing his part to clean coast lines by using his boat, time, fuel and brawn to remove marine debris and derelict fishing gear. Our adventure started on the docks of Rye Harbor at 4:45am... thank goodness for coffee. One of the projects that Gabby is currently working on, The NH Lobster Bands Pilot Project,  involves the claw bands seen on lobsters in markets.  The bands project is a combination project that brings together marketing of NH Fresh and Local lobsters and marine debris removal projects with 5 lobstermen. More information on the project can be found at "".
The bands- Keep an eye out for them!
To observe the bands being used for the first time, Gabby and I were able to accompany LJ on the F/V Yesterday's Storm as he hauled gear and collected his catch.  I was amazed by how LJ could monitor and maintain so many different tasks at once from baiting traps, to running the traps, measuring the lobster, banding the claws, and running the boat:
 LJ running a trap down the deck  
Banding the claws.
Seeing how demanding the work is motivates me to remain involved in the Fresh & Local marketing campaign. These fishermen work so hard they deserve that relationship with the community to keep their catch local.  Keeping the catch local is better for the fishermen, the economy, the environment and ultimately the community as well- who doesn't want fresher fish?! The experience was fantastic and I hope to be able to assist Gabby further on this great project.

The catch.

Trying out being a lobsterman, definitely a challenge but an awesome experience!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Aquaculture in a Brighter Light

Last week I was able to accompany aquaculture specialist, Michael Chambers, in New Castle to assist in his research involving steelhead trout.  Chambers and UNH professor Dr. Hunt Howell have teamed up to study stock enhancement of steelhead trout by farming them in offshore pens that provide a safe environment for the trout and a convenient location for fishermen and researchers.

Chambers informed me that farming fish tends to come with a negative impression, as having all these fish together in the offshore pens increases the nutrients in the water harming the environment.  To offset this problem, Chambers has utilized the naturally growing mussels and kelp in the water to absorb these excess nutrients.  Since mussels are filter feeders, they take water into their system and filter through the detritus and plankton.  The nutrients produced by the fish are exactly what the mussels need to grow, therefore having the mussels around the pens maintains the water quality for the fish while allowing the mussels to grow naturally. There are many benefits to using these mussels. Such as, being able to sell them when they reach market size and the nutrient uptake discussed previously.

 We started our day by taking mussels Michael was growing off-site from the pens and putting them in long tubes of netting to assist and protect them in their growth.  We used the system shown below to make this process as simple and efficient as possible. These long nets of mussel can then be attached to the outside of the trout pens where they will continue to grow and consume the excess nutrients around the cages.  The netting will keep the mussels contained so they are not preyed upon at the cages.
Above: Mussels are pushed from the funnel, through the tube, into the netting.

Seeing the offshore trout cages was amazing and the trout seem to be growing well.  This growth combined with the use of kelp and mussels to maintain if not improve the surrounding water quality definitely helped me to see well-practiced aquaculture in a positive way.
          Above: Off-shore steelhead trout pens.  New Castle, NH.  

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

From the Boat to Your Plate

This week I was able to spend two days with Sarah Van Horn (who was a Doyle fellow last summer!) and Josh Wiersma (the NH Groundfish Sectors Manager).  The pair have started a Community Supported Fishery (CSF), NH Community Seafood.  The CSF allows community members to purchase a share of fresh fish brought to them at a convenient drop-off location once a week.  The share members can sign up for a full share or half share of underdog and/or groundfish.  A half share will give the consumer a pound of fish, and a full share two pounds.  The type of fish rotates each week based on what the fishermen the CSF is working with are catching.  The over-arching idea of this CSF is to link the fishermen directly with local market.  This keeps the catch local, and will hopefully increase the demand for fresh, local fish. By selling the fish locally, it is fresh and therefore better in taste and worth more without the expense of shipping the fish.  Ultimately, by utilizing local markets the fishermen will hopefully be able to make more money off their catch and stay fishing through challenging times.

Josh Weirsma and Sarah Van Horn. Photo courtesy of Gabriela Bradt.

I was able to accompany Sarah on two drop-offs, one in Dover and another in Rye.  Almost all of the people who arrived to pick up their fish made extremely positive remarks on the fish the had received the prior week.  The best comment to hear was, "Fresh fish just tastes so much better!"; we heard this multiple times and loved hearing that people are seeing how great seafood is when it goes straight from the boat to the plate.  The shareholders reacted with large grins when Sarah and I were able to tell them the fish they were about to enjoy was caught by fisherman David Goethel on the F/V Ellen Diane only one day earlier in Hampton Harbor.

New names, new faces, new ideas.

At the end of week one, I have met many new people in this industry and they are all wise and eager to help promote fresh and local seafood in their own way.

Starting at Seaport Fish market in Rye, Richie Pettigrew (below) was very welcoming and eager to help promote the selling of locally caught fish.  In the displays of fish for sale in the market you can see red discs with the NH Fresh & Local logo proudly shown.  This allows buyers to clearly see what they can buy that supports to local industry.  Richie's employees were also seen wearing NH Fresh & Local T-shirts advertising the brand, which they were eager to talk about and promote. I am learning very quickly how the fishing industry is in need of help. With 98% of the daily catch being exported before it even reaches local markets, the fishermen are not earning as much as they could be if the catch were kept local.  Therefore, the industry depends on the community to buy the local fish. Meaning the public must be aware of where and how to buy local, and open to try new species of fish.  Learning this and seeing Pettigrew's eager-ness to help made me anxious to get on board with this N.H. Fresh & Local Seafood campaign to provide the community with the necessary tools and information to buy local seafood to support our fishermen.
Rich Pettigrew, owner of Seaport Fish in Rye, NH. image source:
I was also able to make a trip down to Seabrook, NH with Fisheries Extension Specialist, Erik Chapman, to meet the men of the Yankee Fisherman's Cooperative.  The coop is also making efforts to promote buying local, and is doing what they can to try and keep their fish in local markets.  Seeing the men at work and being able to meet them definitely makes one want to buy the local fish to support them.  I am definitely eager to be involved in this campaign and see how I can help the people I am meeting.

Ready or Not!

Thank you for taking time to explore my blog.  The Brian E. Doyle fellowship is a unique opportunity  to gain experiences outside of the classroom.  As a rising senior at UNH majoring in marine, estuarine, and freshwater biology I developed an interest in fisheries and sustainable fishing after assisting in a study of juvenile growth and development in channeled whelks in 2012.  I will be working with Sea Grant and UNH Cooperative Extension on a variety of projects including the N.H Fresh & Local Seafood marketing campaign, fisheries extension work, and community outreach at farmer's and seafood markets.

I welcome you to check back to this blog to see updates on my experiences and projects as a Doyle fellow.  I am excited to get started and make the most of the next 8 weeks.  Ready or not... it's time to get to work!

Me with two channeled whelks from my studies.