Community fisheries

Supporting communities and businesses that practice sustainable fishing methods, steward local fisheries, produce high-quality seafood, and protect essential habitat.

Access to the abundance of the ocean is a defining part of life in our region. Relying on this natural resource, community fisheries are challenged to ensure a sustainable catch, sufficient returns to sustain local livelihoods, and make smart investments despite an uncertain future.

Along with a large network of partners, we’re working to relocalize the seafood supply chain, provide better business training and support, and build communities of practice focused on creating resilient responses to the threat of climate change and changing political landscapes.

A family eats local fish together for dinner.
Fish night with Local Catch members Jack, Dani, Kai, and Jimi Kittinger at their home in Monterey, CA.

Engaging consumers

Know your fisherman

When you know your fisherman, you support fishing families and coastal communities, protect critical habitat, sustain fish populations, and have access to the freshest, safest fish for your family. Along with our partners at Local Catch, we collected and shared stories of community fishers from California to Maine working to provide reliable sources of sustainable seafood to local eaters.

Who knows fish better than fishermen? Learn more about where your seafood comes from, be an active participant in taking care of our ocean, and provide your family with delicious fish when you know your fisherman.

Taking a fresh look at frozen fish

In a challenging global, industrial marketplace community fishermen struggle to compete. To better their odds in reaching markets directly, some are turning to flash-freezing to preserve their catch. However, consumers continue to assume that fresh fish is higher quality and, in some cases, more local despite the fact that it may have spent days degrading at the seafood counter, and many days before that traveling along opaque international supply chains. We conducted a study entitled A Fresh Look at Frozen Fish with the Oregon State University Food Innovation Center, and Seafood Analytics to compare the taste and quality of fresh versus frozen fish.

A home for sustainable seafood

Seafood is the perfect vehicle for connecting coastal communities to urban population centers. Here in Portland, we are proud to host a drop off location for Port Orford Sustainable Seafood, at the Natural Capital Center. And several varieties of seafood share subscribers access their catch at the Redd on Salmon Street: Wilder Land and Sea hosts drop off and pick up for Tre-Fin Seafood’s tuna and mixed seafood shares and Iliamna Fish Company’s salmon share. Local Ocean’s Dockbox, a meal kit featuring Local Ocean’s signature recipes, can be picked up in the Redd West warehouse operated by B-line Urban Delivery.

A view of the boardwalk in Garibaldi, Oregon

Supporting economic resilience in coastal communities

A case study in Tillamook County

Tucked in below the foothills of the Oregon Coast Range, at the north end of Oregon’s Tillamook Bay, lies the city of Garibaldi. Like many small coastal ports, the Port of Garibaldi is looking for ways to improve conditions for the commercial fleet and community-based workers following industry declines in both fisheries. In 2018, an initiative guided by Rural Development Initiatives (RDI) was formed to enhance the local fishing economy. In 2019, Ecotrust was hired to help assess current conditions and conduct and economic analysis.

Specifically, this project focused on increasing the wealth and well-being of small commercial fishing boat owners, crew members, fish processors, and retailers in the Garibaldi-Tillamook area.

For our part, Ecotrust undertook an intensive assessment of the region’s seafood value chain. The process drew together a wide array of data and information to better understand the opportunities and challenges surrounding the local economy, including documenting recent shifts in fisheries landings, the impacts of climate change, and recent local initiatives that are having beneficial effects.

Garibaldi Value Chain Assessment

Detailed research on the community and its economics including qualitative information from interviews with local fishermen, fisheries managers, and business owners and stakeholders throughout the seafood supply chain.
Executive Summary | Full Report

Commercial Fisheries of Tillamook County

A report documenting the experiences of commercial fishing industry stakeholders and taking a deep dive into current and historic influencing factors affecting industry viability.
Download report

Lifting All Boats

A community case study conducted by Rural Development Initiative that identifies available assets for creating increased economic opportunity for the commercial fishing fleet and wider community.
Download report

Connecting communities of practice

Local Catch

The Local Catch Network is a community-of-practice made up of fisherman, organizers, researchers, and consumers from across North America that are committed to providing local, healthful, low-impact, and economically sustainable seafood via community supported fisheries (CSFs) and other direct marketing opportunities. We are proud to be serving on the Networks’s Executive Committee and partnering with Local Catch to provide educational and networking opportunities to community fishermen nation-wide.

Ag of the Middle Accelerator

The Ag of the Middle Accelerator serves food producers from farming, ranching, and coastal communities. The two-year Accelerator program offers a robust curriculum, focused on building the business acumen of small- to mid-scale producers across the region, from Alaska to California. Roughly 30 percent of our participants are seafood-focused businesses, most of whom conduct direct-to-consumer sales. Current and past participants include:

Blue Siren Shellfish
Astoria, Ore.

Chelsea Rose Seafood
Newport, Ore.

Copper Valley Fish Collective
Cordova, Alaska

CS Fishery
Garibaldi, Ore.

Drifters Fish
Cordova, Alaska

Duna Fisheries
Port Townsend, Wash.

Fairweather Fish Co.
Sitka, Alaska

Indian Candy
Stevenson, Wash.

Kenai Red Fish Company
Portland, Ore.

Kodiak Ocean Bounty
Kodiak, Alaska

Madison’s Salmon
Anchorage, Alaska

Port Orford Sustainable Seafood
Port Orford, Ore.

Schoolhouse Fish Co.
Petersburg, Alaska

Tillamook Bay Seafoods
Garibaldi, Ore.

Tre-Fin Foods
Ilwaco, Wash.

Community Fisheries Network

Launched in 2012, the Community Fisheries Network brought together 14 community-based fisheries organizations located in communities on both coasts in an effort to tackle shared challenges including marketing and building demand for locally-, sustainably-caught seafood. While the Network disbanded in 2018, the utility and value of building and supporting  communities of practice for fishermen continues to inform our work.