How Does the Community Supported Fishery Work?
Skipper Otto’s Community Supported Fishery (CSF) creates a direct connection between local fishermen and thoughtful consumers. This partnership fosters the protection of ocean resources while providing premium, wild, fairly-traded, Ocean Wise seafood.
Skipper Otto’s CSF is a flexible, buy-down style program. Members purchase a credit before the fishing season starts and can choose to purchase any sized share in $100 increments. Members receive regular email newsletters letting them know what is available and when they can pick up their shares. Members then place their orders online and select their pick-up date and location. The dollar amount for each item is deducted from the member’s balance until the balance is used up. Members get to enjoy fresh, sustainable seafood.
What about the cost? Amazingly, product prices are based on the fair-trade price fisherman fetch that is based on each year’s operating cost. Even though Skipper Otto’s CSF fishermen are paid better than other fishermen on the coast, members pay prices that are usually comparable to or less than what they would pay at a local fish market for an equivalent product simply because the supply chain is so short. CSF members have access to all the current product prices when they login to the online store. Everyone wins!
Local B.C. Pickup
What Makes the CSF Different?
This beautifully crafted video demonstrates what a Community Supported Fishery is all about. With new revelations coming out about the seafood sold in large chain food stores, it just reinforces the reasons to support direct-to-fisherman opportunities such as Skipper Otto’s.
Meet the Strobels - Founder of Skipper Otto's CSF
Q: What is a Community Supported Fishery? How does it work?
A: A Community Supported Fishery (CSF) creates a direct connection between local fisherman and consumers, with the joint goal of protecting ocean resources and improving our local food system. To do this, we adapted the “Community Supported Agriculture” model and applied it to what we do. People join the CSF by purchasing a share at the beginning of the season (before June 1st) to receive premium, local, wild seafood throughout the season. The system we have in place allows members to pick up what they like, when they like with consideration to the delivery available in their area. We have set up various pickup locations and times in different areas. In the prairies, we now offer several pickups during the season which was expanded from last season. In Regina, we have partnered with Body Fuel Organics so that the pickup times have expanded to a weekend rather than a few hours!
Q: What type of seafood do you offer?
A: We offer the following Ocean Wise seafood:
- Whole salmon (sockeye, spring, chum, and pink)
- Sashimi grade salmon fillets (sockeye, spring, chum, and pink)
- Smoked, pepper smoked, candied, and maple candied salmon
- Sockeye salmon lox
- Canned salmon (smoked, and regular)
- Sashimi grade tuna loin
- Halibut fillets
- Ling cod
- Spot prawns and side striped shrimp (live in the spring, frozen year round)
- Fresh and frozen Dungeness crabs
Q: What made you decide to offer this service as far reaching as the prairies?
A: We recognize the desire for people to have access to local, wild, fresh seafood without the processing, modifications, or preservatives measures taken by the vast majority of processors to prepare the food for an extended shelf life to maximize their profits. It’s tough enough for those who live in a coastal province, let alone those who don’t. The benefit is on many levels – it helps support independent fishermen to keep small scale, sustainable fishing alive; it helps conserve our valuable ocean resources; and it allows this quality seafood to reach its way inland to customers who deserve to have access to sustainable Canadian seafood.
Q: What future plans do you have for your CSF and/or what services or products would you like to see offered?
A: We have piloted Canada’s first Restaurant Supported Fishery program which allows chefs access to the same high quality, sustainable seafood our members receive with the complete “Dock to Dish” story. We are also experimenting with partnering with values-aligned retailers to allow them to sell one sample product so that our story and our seafood might reach an even broader audience. We are continuing to meet with fishermen and to figure out ways to get even more products to our members. We’re hoping to be able to get sablefish (black cod) onto our product list soon!
Q: Do you find that you are more critical in terms of standards compared to others in your industry?
A: Yes, we strive to offer the best quality seafood that is in its most natural state as possible. This past season we actually had to halt distribution of spot prawns. Securing a processor is a challenge for small scale producers such as ourselves. A processor we used for these spot prawns (not one of our regular processors) told us they would be frozen in salt water – the way that we prepare them for our family. Imagine our surprise when we received them back with 10 artificial preservatives on the label – maltodextrin, sodium metabisulphite, sodium erythorbate, xanthan gum, sodium tripolyphosphate, guar gum, sodium chloride, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium citrate, autolyzed yeast extract. I knew some of them and researched the others and determined very quickly that I would not serve these to my family. The processor explained that, like nearly all processors here, they process exclusively for the export market, and that this is the standard list of ingredients that the export market demands. We explained to them that this is not acceptable for our market! We took them home anyway and decided to try a few – the prawns were mushy and unappealing. Our prawn fisherman’s wife tried several recipes and they were only okay in a few. We were not sure what caused the mushiness, but we all agreed that it was unacceptable and not the quality of seafood we want to offer our members. That sealed the deal for us – although this product was fair trade, Ocean Wise and sustainably harvested, it did not meet our standards of premium quality or bring natural and appropriate for us to feed our own family so we decided to cancel those spot prawns orders. It was a very agonizing decision, but we feel the right one that aligns with our goals.
Q: How can someone join the CSF?
A: The CSF is currently accepting memberships for its 2017 season! Sign-up is now open and available here.
Q: How can members better support the CSF?
A: Members can continue to purchase shares and promote the CSF to family and friends. This past year, our membership grew to nearly 1500 members. This allowed us to support over 20 fishing families! Each of those fishing families, including ours, was paid an average of 30% more than they would have made selling the same catch to the conventional buyer on the fishing grounds, allowing us to continue fishing in traditional, manual, low-impact methods. Meanwhile, member prices remained comparable to prices in fish markets proving that, by cutting out the lengthy supply chain, there is room for everyone to get a fair price. We’re still a tiny player in the seafood industry, but we are beginning to make waves. Word travels quickly when there is a competitive buyer like us on the fishing grounds. Many times we’ve observed that conventional buyers are forced to keep their price-dropping in check when we’re around! We are on the steering committee of an international CSF (localcatch.org) that works together to help fishing families around the world start and grow CSFs. Chefs, retailers, and other institutions regularly ask how they can be a part of our CSF and help advance our vision of premium, fair trade seafood that protects our precious aquatic ecosystems. Knowledge is power and spreading the word is key to help develop the CSF model.
Easy Cheesy Baked Sockeye Salmon
This is by far my favourite salmon recipe. It is tried and true, flexible, and liked by toddler and husband alike. The cheese topping works beautifully with mild to more flavourful salmon choices. I always use fresh, direct from fisherman caught salmon from Skipper Otto’s Community Supported Fishery.
1/2 lb to 1 lb thawed salmon fillet (depending on the amount of cheese topping you prefer)
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup finely diced onion
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup shredded or grated fresh parmesan cheese
2 tsp mustard
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
Dash freshly ground salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees Celsius.
- Keeping it nice and simple – combine all ingredients above.
- Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place salmon fillet skin down on the foil.
- Spoon cheese mixture over the top of the salmon.
- Bake 20-25 minutes until salmon is cooked through and the cheese is bubbling and flecked with golden brown.
- Let the salmon site for a couple minutes to let the cheese mixture set up, then take a spatula and run it under the salmon just above the foil and you can separate it from most of the skin which sticks to the foil.