PORT CLYDE, Maine — Sizzling shrimp scampi, seafood chowder and the Spanish delicacy gambas al ajillo are just some of the many dishes to make with wild-caught Maine shrimp.
Maine shrimp is migrating a little closer to consumers, and its purchase promises a fairer wage to fishermen thanks to subscriptions offered through the Midcoast Fishermen’s Cooperative’s Port Clyde Fresh Catch Community Supported Fisheries.
“If anybody loves wild-caught, sustainably harvested Maine shrimp, this is for them,” said Laura Kramar, marketing cooperative coordinator for the Island Institute.
The shrimp shares are similar to local community-supported agriculture programs. Customers buy a half-share or a full-share of the catch — a half share is 3 pounds a week and a full share is 5 pounds at a cost of $5 per pound for raw shrimp and $6 per pound for cooked. They receive fresh-caught shrimp for up to 12 weeks starting the week of Dec. 20. Subscribers pay for a set number of weeks upfront, Libby said.
They can pick up the shrimp at one of six locations: Belfast, Rockland, Port Clyde, Rockport, Gardiner and Bath, said Jessica Libby, CSF manager for Port Clyde Fresh Catch. There are plans to expand to other delivery locations within 100 miles of Port Clyde.
“We’ve had a lot of inquiries in other places, including Bangor,” Libby said. “In order to make it feasible, we’d have to have 40 or more people sign up in any location.”
Port Clyde Fresh Catch employees pick the shrimp for subscribers, who can order their shrimp cooked or raw. They also provide a “bulk shipping option” to send the shrimp via UPS.
“That gets people who are outside of the range of delivery options,” Libby said.
Consumers can feel good about this shrimp, she said.
“We offer a higher boat price to our fishermen. The whole point behind Port Clyde Fresh Catch is to preserve the fish industry,” she said. “You’re not only getting a fresher product, you’re supporting the fishermen. … Basically, we know exactly where the shrimp come from and exactly who caught them.”
The organization also prides itself on its environmentally sustainable fishing methods, including using a net with a different mesh to allow for less bycatch.
“More of the smaller, juvenile shrimp passes through so that you’re not overfishing,” Libby said.
It is the second year for the winter shrimp subscriptions. This past summer’s fish subscription season was “wild,” Kramar said, with a robust list of restaurant customers.
“We more than doubled our number of subscribers,” she said.
That’s good news for the Midcoast Fishermen’s Cooperative, which is the last fleet of small groundfishing boats between Portland and the Canadian border — and which is also trying to expand the market for its Maine fish and shellfish.
“We’d love to sell some more fairly traded seafood,” Kramar said.
Libby added that customers who sign up by Nov. 10 can take advantage of a promotional offer of 12 weeks for the price of 11.
For information about the Community Supported Fisheries program, call Jessica Libby at 975-2191 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.