BEAUFORT — While the novel coronavirus outbreak has closed many dine-in restaurants, a local community-supported fishery is still providing a link between commercial fishermen and their inland customers.
Walking Fish is a community-supported fishery based in Beaufort. This type of fishery is based on the community-supported agriculture model in which members of the fishery purchases shares of seafood caught by participating commercial fishermen. The seafood is then delivered to the fishery’s members. In Walking Fish’s case, the seafood is delivered on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, depending on the type of membership.
Walking Fish coordinator Debra Callaway said May 6 that even with restrictions and Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive order requiring social distancing, Walking Fish has continued to make its regular deliveries to pickup locations in Raleigh and Durham Thursday afternoons.
“We’ve seen a slight increase in sales this spring,” Ms. Callaway said, “and a slight increase in demand…with more people staying at home, we’ve had more people want to be weekly (delivery members).”
As of last week, about a dozen commercial fishermen participate in the Walking Fish fishery, according to Ms. Callaway.
“With fishermen not having a restaurant market right now, they appreciate the market we provide,” she said.
Ms. Callaway also said the organization’s members have been supportive and appreciative of the service the fishery provides. Traditionally the fishery delivers seafood for pickup to the Duke University campus parking lot. However, due to the outbreak, the campus is closed to the public, so Walking Fish is using an alternative pickup site at Loco Pops in Durham.
“We have the pavement marked with spaces,” Ms. Callaway said, “and we ask members to stay apart to comply with the governor’s order.”
Walking Fish began in 2009. A group of Duke University Marine Lab grad students initiated the project, partnering with several North Carolina-based for-profit and nonprofit organizations. The core fishermen involved in Walking Fish formed a cooperative in 2011.
More information on Walking Fish is available at walking-fish.org.
Contact Mike Shutak at 252-723-7353, email email@example.com; or follow on Twitter at @mikesccnt.