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Peterborough

Fish coop reaching Monadnock region

Nashua group is bringing fishermen and consumers together

  • Sarah Bay with fresh redfish purchased through a fish co-op that's attracting residents of the region.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Sarah Bay with fresh redfish purchased through a fish co-op that's attracting residents of the region.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Sarah Bay with fresh redfish purchased through a fish co-op that's attracting residents of the region.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

PETERBOROUGH — “From sea to table in less than a day. The fish is 12 hours old and you know who caught it.”

That’s Sarah Bay’s rationale for signing up with New Hampshire Community Seafood, a Portsmouth based cooperative that is hoping to expand its reach into the Monadnock region.

Bay, who lives in Peterborough, is one of about 15 people from local towns who have joined the co-op. The co-op just started in June, and the fish is actually delivered to a farmers’ market in Manchester.

For now, one of the local members drives over to pick up a cooler of Peterborough-area orders every Thursday. And the cooler is dropped off in Bay’s garage, where members drop by on Thursday afternoons to pick up their fish.

Bay says she’s been delighted with the fish she’s received so far.

“You can get fillets, all nice and prepped. You can also get whole fish,” she said last week, as she looked over a batch of redfish fillets. “I’m interested in minimizing the middlemen. With this system, the people who are out fishing are the ones who are getting paid.”

Sarah VanHorn, a recent University of New Hampshire graduate with a degree in marine biology, is one of the co-founders of the cooperative.

“We’re trying to give people different fish, to expose them to what’s in our local waters,” VanHorn said on Wednesday. “We have cod, redfish, yellowtail flounder, pollock, rockfish, white hake. We deliver what’s available that day.”

For $100, people are entitled to one pound of filleted fish a week for eight weeks. Whole fish or larger quantities may also be ordered. Information about how to order is on the co-op’s website at www.nhcommunityseafood.com. The group also offers lobster on a biweekly basis.

The co-op delivers to Manchester because it has a lot of members there. The Monadnock area arrangement, in which a driver picks up the fish, is unique.

“It’s a really cool system that they’re doing in Peterborough,” VanHorn said. “They are the first of our members to organize something like that. It would be great to do that elsewhere.”

And if the group can recruit a few more people, the co-op might be able to deliver right to Peterborough.

“We have 75 members in Manchester,” VanHorn says. “If we can get 75 or more in and around Peterborough, we’d consider a delivery.”

VanHorn said the co-op is in the midst of its second eight-week season. They’re still accepting sign-ups for that season, which runs through Sept. 27, on a pro-rated basis.

VanHorn said fishermen are on quotas for some species, so supplies sometimes dwindle as the year progresses, but they’re planning for a third season this fall.

“We’re trying to keep it going year round,” she said. “We’d like to continue as long as there’s fish available.”

VanHorn said a group of commercial fishermen from Rye, Portsmouth, Seabrook and Hampton are owner-members of the cooperative.

In addition to buying fish, consumers can also purchase stock in the cooperative for $100, which gives them a share of profits at the end of the season. VanHorn said 80 percent of profits will go to the fishermen and 20 percent to the consumer members.

Dave Anderson can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 233 or danderson@ledgertranscript.com. He’s on Twitter at @DaveAndersonMLT.

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