About POSS and our CSF
Aaron Longton started fishing when he was eight years old and has been a full-time commercial fisherman since 2000. Because of low prices from fish buyers, rising fuel prices, and increasing regulations, Aaron was faced with some tough decisions; either get out of the commercial fishing industry or figure out a way to increase his profit margin. At the time, Aaron thought that cutting out the middle man would be a great way to accomplish this. He has since learned that he assumed the responsibility of the middle man. Like any journey, Aaron appreciates the professional growth gained from this process. The ability to understand each aspect of the commercial fishing industry allows Port Orford Sustainable Seafood (POSS) to provide Oregon’s highest quality fish.
Aaron started POSS in 2009 by selling seafood in the Rouge Valley from an ice chest out of the back of his truck. Since this time, POSS has expanded to include Oregon’s first Community Supported Fishery (CSF).
What exactly is a CSF?
A CSF is based on the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model that has been around for decades. The first CSF was started in the Fall of 2007 in Port Clyde, Maine. Since then, several CSFs have been popping up around the country. A CSF connects fish lovers directly to local fishermen. Members of the CSF commit to an agreed upon season (in our case four months), during which they receive regular “shares” of fresh seafood.
Why should I join POSS and their CSF?
When you join our CSF, you help emphasize sustainable fishery practices, encourage environmental sensitivity among fishermen, ensure higher quality processing standards, provide a direct-to-consumer relationship, lower the carbon footprint, and experience a higher quality, competitively priced product.
How do the shares work?
When you enroll in our community supported fishery, you are able to purchase a “share” of the harvest from an independent, small boat family of fishermen who fish the Pacific Waters of Southern Oregon. We have two types of shares–a full-share and a half-share. Each season lasts four months and we have three seasons per year. A POSS Share entitles you to a share of each species that is in season. The shares will be available for pickup at the drop site that you sign up for. You also get access to many of the perks of being a CSF member–special sales, newsletters, recipes, BBQ’s, salmon bakes, cooking classes, and fishermen events. It is our desire to build a two-way relationship with you the consumer.
POSS then contracts with one of our day boat fishermen. They catch your fish from the Pacific one hook at a time. Careful to employ best practices in handling and processing methods, almost unheard of on large factory boats and corporate owned fish farms, our fish are processed with 24 hours of landing. Your fish are brought to Gold Beach or Port Orford where they are filleted and cut into portions of approximately one pound (give or take an ounce or two). Next, they are individually vacuum-sealed and blast-frozen to 30 below before making their way to you.
As a team, we make our part of the food system more healthy and sustainable as we commit ourselves to not externalize the environment and social costs of bringing fresh fish directly to your table. Together we pay our fishermen a fairer wage. Less stress on the fish and fishermen is accomplished by getting more money for less catch. Fishermen participating in CSFs can improve their profit while fishing less and allowing the fisheries to repopulate.
Will all of the fish be local?
All of our species will come out of the Pacific Ocean on the Southern Oregon Coast. Once the catch is landed, it is put on ice overnight. The next day, the catch is transported to Fishermen Direct in Gold Beach, Oregon where it is processed. All of our fish will be filleted, vacuum sealed, and flash frozen to 30 degrees below zero. The fish is then transported back to Port Orford where it is stored in one of our freezer lockers until it goes out for delivery.
Is a CSF right for you?
Here’s a few questions to ponder to determine if a CSF will work for you, your household, and lifestyle. We hope it will, but feel free to contact us with any questions!
Does your cooking/kitchen style fit with a CSF? To really get the benefit of a CSF, you need to be flexible enough to plan a meal around what seafood will be delivered to you. You also need to have some time to cook. To help out, we sent along some recipes of all levels in our monthly e-newsletter, which often helps people get started cooking types of seafood they may not have tired before or gives them new ideas on how to cook old favorites.
Are you a flexible person? Fishermen spend a majority of their time rolling with the punches including weather, water conditions, and fishing regulations. If you’re not able to do this or don’t want to, you may not enjoy the benefits of a CSF. On the other hand, if you really want to experience how fisheries work and how variable catching seafood can be, it’s a great experience to live with the seasons and appreciate how and when seafood is available. Since we are small boat(s) employing hook and line fishing methods only, we do not fish for net species like shrimp, Dover Sole and Petrale Sole. We only catch seven different species of fish here including: Albacore Tuna, Chinook Salmon, Lingcod, Black Cod, rockfish, halibut, Cabezon and rockfish (with about 25 different species all having slightly different taste and texture). We also harvest by-catch including Spiney Dog Fish, Long-Nosed Skate, and Wolf Eel which at some point may find its way into a monthly share along with shelf stable Hook and Line Albacore Tuna. Will it be monthly or seasonally? Probably not, but it is an option and part of the product that we produce.
Are you open to trying new things and maybe receiving some items that might not be your absolute favorite? We offer a variety of seafood species (an average of 8-10 species over a season), some of which you may not have heard of or tried. We believe that part of the value and experience of the CSF is to learn about the diversity of seafood in the world beyond what the grocery stores stock. Nearly all of our shareholders like all the seafood we provide in the shares, we sometimes hear that a member doesn’t much like something they are receiving. If you’re willing to be okay with this (give it to a friend or explore cooking methods that may help you like it more), then you’ll enjoy a CSF. However, if you feel like you won’t be happy unless you absolutely love every single type of seafood that is served, then it’s probably best for you to buy your seafood ala carte. We are willing to work with allergies if you let us know ahead of time. We will specially mark your share with your name. We are no longer able to work with opt-out requests due to dislike as it became too complicated for our small operation and is unfair to other shareholders.
What is the best way to thaw my seafood? The best way to thaw seafood requires planning and let’s face it, we’re all pretty busy. If you remember, pull out your seafood the day before you want to fix it and thaw it in your refrigerator. Thawing in cold water is also a safe method but be sure to check out the USDA preferred methods.
Consider how POSS is set up. Does our delivery time and location work for your life? Do you feel like you or someone in your household will remember to pick up on the delivery dates? We know life can be hectic, and we do our best to remind shareholders of delivery dates and times with weekly email reminders as well as Facebook posts. We also work with customers’ schedules. If you let us know ahead of time that you will be missing a delivery date due to vacation, we can extend your share accordingly. We hope these reminders and some flexibility with schedules will help prevent folks from missing their seafood shares, as we are not able to hold shares past the following Monday after the set pick-up day.