Rallying Support for Community Supported Fisheries: Ocean to Table?

The term farm-to-table has been used relentlessly over the past few years. Just as the name suggests, the phrase is used to illustrate that the food being consumed by restaurant guests has very recently been plucked from the ground, from a farm nearby. The concept may have started with citizens’ desire to reduce their carbon footprint, but from this, a support and love for our farmers has evolved. Restaurants use the phrase in their names, on their menus, as well as in advertising. Why then, is there no equivalent for the fish, oysters, mussels, etc. that make it on to our dinner plates as well? Is there a market for ocean-to-table?


Community supported fisheries are small-scale operations, where the public pays a specified amount to a local fishing company. Throughout the year, on a weekly or monthly basis, members are able to go right down to the docks and pick out their seafood from the same people that caught the fish.

Serving Vancouver, Skipper Otto’s Community Supported Fishery was the first of its kind in Canada.

By becoming involved with CSFs, we will not only be improving the health of our oceans by choosing sustainable species, but we can also be ensured that better fishing methods were used. In fact, Skipper Otto’s CSF introduces the public to their fishers, what they species they fish and what methods they use.

There are numerous reasons as to why supporting CSFs can benefit consumers, both socio-economic, as well as ecological. There are monetary advantages to CSFs such as lower costs associated with less distribution, packaging and shipping of food. This in turn helps to lower the level of carbon output that is generated by the food sector. Ecological benefits also exist: CSFs can help provide a market to species otherwise seen as not marketable. This can alleviate some of the pressure on over exploited species, allowing their stocks to recover.

What can be really substantial, are the potential social benefits that can occur by increasing awareness and use of CSFs. CSFs can benefit from the trendy and popular path paved by farm-to-table operations and the desire for local food, to instil a sense of pride in consumers. Presently, we are missing a key link between government and consumers: the community. So let’s all agree to support our resident fishers, and in doing so, perhaps Canadian citizens will build a stronger connection to our waters, the animals that inhabit them, and the fishers that depend on them for their livelihood.