A Chat with the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance

It’s a sunny April afternoon and I’m chatting with Niaz Dorry the PR rep for the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA).  When the initial email of possible blogging topics went out I snagged NAMA for a couple different reasons, if you have read my blog much you know that I’m originally a Maine girl and grew up on the coast so the NAMA’s whole goal of sustainable fishing resonates with me.

I have spent the better part of my life watching lobster men (and women) struggle to stay afloat literally, making barely $2.50/lb off the boat for the gourmet crustacean that sells for upwards of $15 down here in Boston.  These are people that sign on for a hard life where the boats are frequently jury rigged and all out wars over good lobster grounds are had.  In Lubec (pronounced lou-beck. If you live there you are a Lubecker, FYI) where there are excellent lobster grounds (compliments of the Bay of Fundy and epic tidal waters) there are heated arguments over the fishing lines daily; Canadians from Campobello Island and Lubeckers both want to lay claim to a tiny strip of fierce tidal waters that gather lobsters like no one’s business.  These waters are pretty fruitful still but not what they once were.  About 10 miles from Calais, ME where I went to high school is St Croix Island, a first epic fail at European colonization.  When people were left on St. Croix they were left there by someone who had seen the Bay of Fundy being fished – in the early 1700s it was said that you could WALK from Maine to Nova Scotia on the backs of the cod in the bay.  This was obviously a hyperbolic statement but the point stood, there was a lot of cod, now there are regulations on fishing it and you’re lucky if you even see one.
When I get on the phone with Niaz I start to discuss my background with her – the strife of my hometown and the fishermen there with these very stories that I have seen constantly.  She’s been there.  She knows of a sardine factory close by that was shut down in October.  Being a fisherman is hard and NAMA is there to back them, working to change policies and create communities of fishermen that work together to fish safely and diversely. NAMA’s ultimate goal is to have a successful marine biodiversity in local waters and to help local economies connect with local fishermen.

NAMA is working together with communities and fishermen to change policy and create successful small local fishing and sales practices.  They offer a lot of opportunities for fishermen to offer their wares and present a central area that aggregates local Community Supported Fishery (CSF) shares (find your local CSF here and there are a TON of recipes on how to use the fish in that CSF here).  They are traveling all over New England teaching and talking about fishing to communities, hosting Seafood Throwdowns and being a resource to those small towns that need to see a policy change.

NAMA will be at the Boston Local Food Festival on October 1st as both a sponsor of the festival and to host a Seafood Throwdown.  What exactly is a Seafood Throwdown, you ask?  HAHA, I say.  The Seafood throwdown is a competition wherein two local chefs are given – a secret seafood ingredient, $25 and 15 mins to shop the market stalls for ingredients.  It’s exciting, it’s delicious, and it’s oh-so-much fun.  Last year saw delicious results and I expect this year to be no different.  So come to the Boston Local Food Festival and show your support for local fisheries, local chefs and some nice competition!

If you have any questions at all about NAMA, it’s goals, or just want to donate you can visit the website at http://www.namanet.org/ and I know they love to educate and answer questions!  So give them a call or email and pick their brains.

All images are courtesy of NAMA’s website at http://www.namanet.org/
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