The Daily Sampler Abroad: Halifax – Off the Hook Community Supported Fishery

At this point in time, if you haven’t at least heard of farm shares, you’re just not with it, smalls.  It’s been my dream to be a part of one, but due to the always-changing nature of our lifestyle, we never seem to be in one place long enough to take part.  Alas, my dream must wait.  There was a fortuitous change in our quest to eat local last week, when we heard about an enticing idea from some local friends of ours.  The topic of fish shares came up, and although they never had tried it, our friends were pretty sure Halifax had one.  A fish share, you say?  (I said the same thing.)  I had to know more.  I went home, looked it up, and was signed up with Off the Hook Community Supported Fishery by the end of the weekend.

So, much like a farm share, where a local organization works directly with farmers to provide fresh, local produce to the community, a fish share bridges the gap between local fisherman and patrons looking to gain access to local product.  I mean the Ocean is RIGHT THERE.  It’s the greatest natural resource a city can have, and one that I think, unfortunately, many Haligonians don’t take advantage of.  At another event recently when we shared our exciting fish news, I was astonished to see that not one person had any idea, not only about Off the Hook, but about community supported fisheries in general.  I’m talking about educated adults, working as professors and administrators at local universities, all of which have lived in Halifax a minimum of five years.  Clueless.  It was then I knew I had to spread the word, not only for excited newbies like myself, but for seasoned Nova Scotians who might not realize what a great opportunity this is, and that it’s super easy to be a part of.  The easy part sold me.

OffthehookThree years ago, Off the Hook CSF became Atlantic Canada’s first community supported fishery, connecting small-scale fisherman in the Bay of Fundy to subscribers in both Halifax and surrounding areas.  By eliminating the middleman, Off the Hook can ensure fairly caught, respectfully handled, sustainable fish at a reasonable price for the community.  The fish comes to you within twenty-four hours of being caught, dressed (gutted, thank goodness), and put on ice for delivery.  Your options range between $60-$185 for the entire season, depending on how much fish you’d like.  If you think about what you’d spend on meat, poultry, or fish from a supermarket (where no one can really be sure where it came from, or when) the fish share is quite an economical option that is again, supporting your local community.

We were lucky enough to discover OTH right as their fall season was about to start, and today we picked up our first catch.  The fall season runs for four weeks, with options varying from a whole fish each week, fillets each week, or a mixture of the two (what we chose.)  This week we received fillets, and had the option of haddock, ocean perch, or hake.  Arrive early for first dibs!  Being first timers, we went traditional with haddock and are putting together our recipes for the weekend.  Stay tuned for our adventures cooking straight-off-the-line fish, especially next week, when we get our first whole fish.  Yes- I am terrified.  Thanks for asking.  We’ll get through it together.

There are 11 potential pick-up locations all over the region, and even an option to hold your share for a week should you be out of town or unavailable for some reason.  All the details and FAQs are answered at Off the Hook’s website, here.  Additionally, membership with Off the Hook means access to some of their partners that provide shellfish and lobster throughout the year.  Can’t wait for that.

I wanted to share this exciting new find because I think it’s a great, supremely easy way to start eating locally and more healthful; something we’ll be focusing on a lot this year.  I know it can be intimidating to make lifestyle changes, especially when purchasing on a budget.  If we can start here, pretty much anyone can, trust me.  Just take my hand.  I’ve got you.

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Thanks, fisherman Beau!
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