Ocean to Table
A fresh approach to commercial fishing
A few years back, Kerry and Mark Marhefka saw the writing on the wall. With quotas and fishery shutdowns looming, they could no longer rely on the red snapper, porgy, and grouper Mark had harvested for thirty years. The Charleston, South Carolina–based couple were also deeply worried about skyrocketing fuel costs, declining fish prices, and an inefficient wholesale system.
“The fish are picked up and taken all the way to Charlotte or Atlanta for processing, then the fish turns around and comes back down here to a restaurant,” Mark says. “It took more time for that fish to reach the restaurant than it did going from the fishing grounds to the dock.” It also bothered the Marhefkas that they never knew who was eating their fish or where it was being served. “It all built up to making this change where we really took control of our own product and our lives,” says Kerry, a former federal fisheries biologist.
That change came in the form of Abundant Seafood, a company the Marhefkas started to supply fish directly to local chefs. But as of last year, they took it one step further. If farmers could support themselves through Community Supported Agriculture programs, they thought, why couldn’t they create a Community Supported Fishery? Today, Mark catches fish for some one hundred families. The outfit functions much like a standard CSA. Folks buy in for three months. A half share ($84) will net you approximately four pounds of whole fish per month. A full share ($210) delivers ten pounds.