If you resolved to eat better this year, why not think more fish and less meat? And if you’re thinking local and sustainable when it comes to seafood, then you’ll definitely want to check out Skipper Otto’s Community Supported Fishery. Just like a CSA, but for fish, this fishtastic business has changed our family’s fish eating habits for the better.
Local mum (and yoyomama reader!) Sonia Strobel married into a fishing family. Her husband and father-in-law were both fisherman (and teachers), but fishing’s a hard industry to make a living at and they were thinking of getting out, when they hatched the CSF idea. A bit of research showed there was no such thing (yet) and so Skipper Otto’s (Otto’s the senior Strobel), Canada’s first CSF was born.
Launched in 2009 with 40 members, they initially only offered salmon. Now they have 1,200 members, support about 15 fisherman and offer fresh and frozen salmon, tuna, halibut, spots prawns and side striped shrimp, and Dungeness crab. In 2014 they launched a Seafood Equipment Library stocked with canners, vacuum sealers and filet knives, all available on loan to members.
After some growing pains, they streamlined their process to make things easier. You simply buy an annual membership (it’s just $38 through February, then it goes up to $68) and then buy shares in $100 increments. Then it’s a buy-down process. This system allows them to keep their prices consistent, provides a fair value to customers, a fair price for the fisherman, and it’s the right thing to do for the ocean.
As for getting your hands on their fish, that’s all part of the fun. On Thursday evenings, you pick it up at the False Creek Fisherman’s Wharf near Granville Island – frozen in the winter, fresh when it’s in season – and you can also pick it up at certain Farmer’s Markets. Some people buy all their fish in one fell swoop, while others drop by and hang out every week. We’re particularly fond of their smoked salmon and halibut. And as we joined in the winter, we’re looking forward to trying their fish when it’s fresh in the spring.
Stocking up on fish from Skipper Otto’s isn’t necessarily cheaper than buying fish at your regular source, but we love knowing who caught our fish, just like we love knowing who grew our food, and we love people who come up with innovative ideas to rethink how an industry can and should work.
Skipper Otto’s Community Supported Fishery: skipperotto.com
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