Once, it was pretty common for fishermen to sell whole fish right off the boat to local folks. The loss of that connection between consumers and commercial fishermen is one of the major victims of the changes the industry has undergone in the past several decades. But it's been rekindled, in a way, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While fishermen are deemed essential and are allowed to work during the shutdown, the closure of restaurants has robbed them of their biggest market. Many local fish markets continue to offer local product as well as high-demand fish from elsewhere like cod and salmon, but some fishermen have found ways to reconnect with their neighbors by selling their catch directly off the boat. The state has expedited the permits required to do so, and a handful of boats are now meeting what is a high demand for sea scallops, haddock, hake, monkfish, skate, shrimp and other locally-caught product.
Many in the industry see this as an opportunity for fishermen to not only make a living during a difficult time, but also to forge ties that will extend beyond the current situation. Buying locally not only helps out your friendly neighborhood fisherman, it reduces the industry's carbon footprint and provides an unparalleled dining experience. We urge readers to track down the Chatham Harvesters Cooperative and other similar programs on Facebook, or visit capecodfishermen.org/piertoplate for a list of fishermen and markets selling local seafood. There's nothing like fresh seafood, and we've got an abundant supply right in our own backyard.