The “Seafood Throwdown,“ an annual and popular feature of the Cape Ann Farmers Market, returned to the market and Gloucester’s Stage Fort Park Thursday.
And as always, it proved to be a crowd-pleaser when representatives of Sugar Magnolia’s and Classic Cooks Catering squared off by choosing farmers market ingredients to pair with the locally caught seafood selected and donated by Cape Ann Fresh Catch, a seafood co-op coordinated by the Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association and Niaz Dorry’s Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance.
But Dorry and NAMA, which sponsors the event in conjunction with the Farmers Market, also deserve credit for making sure that this event isn’t all just about fun and games – because it’s not.
Indeed, in focusing on using a sustainable catch of seafood, NAMA also emphasizes that the fish is “locally caught,” and in a prepared statement promoting the event, Dorry emphasized this week that “who fishes matters” – and she is absolutely right.
Without specifically referring to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or to the deceptively-named Enviromental Defense Fund, Dorry emphasized the need to support “community-based fishermen” and fight the growth of what she’s calling “big-box boats” – the larger boats and corporations that have used and abused NOAA’s and EDF’s contrived catch share management system to gobble up more and more of the New England fisheries quotas and drive smaller, independent and family-run boats right out of the industry.
Indeed, NOAA’s own figures show that, while landings were up during the first year of the catch-share system, revenues were concentrated in fewer and fewer hands and 21 of Gloucester’s then-96 groundfishing boats were forced out of business. That’s not by any accident; it’s precisely the kind of “consolidation” touted by NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco, and no doubt the desired effect pushed by EDF, which has landed millions in “donations” from the likes of the Walton Foundation — read Wal-Mart, the ultimate big-box business that is putting its money behind the corporately-backed catch-shares agenda hard.
Dorry and her NAMA group deserve credit for their emphasis on sustainable fisheries and seafood in the past, and their latest focus is driving home an even more important point —the need to preserve and sustain America’s fishing communities like Gloucester before the likes of Lubchenco’s NOAA and EDF succeed in bringing about a virtual “agribusiness” of the seas.
Let’s hope again that more and more people hear and heed that message, before the independent family fishing boat goes the way of the family farm.