Little Fisheries by the Sea

While mom-and-pop businesses and small farms continue to get
priced out of existence, the future of independent fisheries is
improving, thanks to the efforts of groups such as Clean Catch
(, a
volunteer organization based in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

‘Clean Catch works with small-scale fishing communities to
combat efforts to privatize, industrialize, and pollute their local
waters,’ says the organization’s director, Niaz Dorry, who conducts
research, publishes issue papers, and does outreach work. ‘Clean
Catch also looks into environmental issues affecting fisheries —
such as the impact of industrial toxins on the health of fish
stocks — and helps fishing communities articulate their ecological

FishWise, a program of Sustainable Fishery Advocates in Northern
takes up where Clean Catch leaves off, bringing the same issues to
the marketplace. There is not yet a standardized certification
system for seafood, like there is for meat and produce, and while
sustainable seafood guides try to highlight best practices, they
tend to overlook nonindustrial, individual practitioners who often
operate out of their homes, take shorter fishing trips, and use
small vessels.

FishWise works with grocery stores in Northern California to
apply green (sustainable), yellow (some concerns), and red
(unsustainable) labels to their seafood selection, providing a
market boost to ecologically responsible fisheries and putting
pressure on the ‘red’ fisheries to adopt better practices. The
nonprofit plans to expand down the West Coast.

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