Brave Tasters Sample Mystery (Sustainable) Seafood

The Innovation Network was in Neah Bay for Makah Days last weekend, giving away cooked fish and fish tacos. Why the free fish? While every member of the team may be just that nice, there was in fact, a catch: A Community Catch.

Free fish tacos, courtesy of Community Catch at Makah Days in Neah Bay. Photo by Hannah Letinich.

Free fish tacos, courtesy of Community Catch at Makah Days in Neah Bay. Photo by Hannah Letinich.

$2 (dock price) of Widow Rockfish served for 15 times as much at a dinner in Port Angeles. The dish was made by special request and required 3 weeks planning. While they are not a common menu item, Community Catch looks to change that and expand the local sustainable market. Photo by Garrett Dalan.

$2 (dock price) of Widow Rockfish served for 15 times as much at a dinner in Port Angeles. The dish was made by special request and required 3 weeks planning. While they are not a common menu item, Community Catch looks to change that and expand the local sustainable market. Photo by Garrett Dalan.

Community Catch is a project of the Innovation Network, partners from across the Washington coast who work in collaborative, experimental and systemic ways to try to improve the economy and resiliency of their communities.. The Community Catch program creates opportunities for commercial fisherman who sustainably harvest fish off the Washington coast. The partners aim to help local communities realize the full value of the fish they catch and to build access to locally caught fish in grocery stores and restaurants.

At Makah Days, the team took a hands-on, experimental approach to gather community perspective and apply it to the project’s strategy.  We served up fresh fish caught locally and processed in Neah Bay by the Cape Flattery Fishermen’s Cooperative. Cooked under the lead of Thyme and Tide, we gave fish to whoever wanted some. 

Chef Nicole Demmert of Thyme n Tide cooked up uncommon fish to promote sustainable seafood. Photo by Hannah Letinich.

Chef Nicole Demmert of Thyme n Tide cooked up uncommon fish to promote sustainable seafood. Photo by Hannah Letinich.

The fish served were mostly uncommon to menus – widow rockfish, true cod and short spine idiot fish.  But here’s the catch: The tasters did not know which species they served.  These brave consumers answered a few quick questions to help us determine how taste, reputation and awareness make some species much more marketable than others.

Is this a perfect experiment? No, and it will not answer all the questions.  But it will give us insight and increase public awareness of local sustainable seafood providers and Community Catch.  It may also prompt people to think a bit more about their seafood choices.  


Banner photo by Hannah Letinich.