Cape Cod Fishermen’s Association Initiates Pier-to-Plate
Fresh Local Fish Program


Fisherman Greg Walinski who has been fishing for dogfish off Cape Cod on his vessel, F/V Alicia Ann, for 30 years. Winter skate is the most abundant of the seven species of skate in the North Atlantic, and fishermen are allowed to harvest about 50 million pounds a year. Cape and island fishermen land more than 7 million pounds, making it the third highest landed seafood for the entire region.

Beginning May 30 a new means of providing fresh fish to Cape Cod restaurants and Boston area institutions was initiated. Cape restaurants that participate in the Pier to Plate program offer fresh dogfish and skates, both abundant and sustainably fished in Massachusetts waters. In the 1990s dogfish was the fish of choice for Britain’s popular fish and chips. Dogfish, also know as cape shark, is a small species of shark caught commercially from Maine to North Carolina.

According to the Cape Cod Fishermen’s Association (CCFA), Cape Cod small-boat fishermen sustainably catch dogfish in abundance off the Cape shores, but 99 percent of this plentiful, white fish is shipped overseas. More dogfish (close to 12 million pounds) is landed by Cape and island fishermen than any other species. Fishermen up and down the Atlantic seaboard share a 40 million pound annual catch limit, yet never reach it, which means fishermen could catch more dogfish each year if there were a bigger market demand.

“Progressive management approaches, such as annual catch quotas and daily trip limits, ensure that populations will stay at healthy levels long into the future. Because dogfish is an overly abundant predatory species, a lack of sufficient harvest could compromise ecosystem balance.”- CCFA

To date, 20 Cape Cod restaurants are on board for featuring these two fish through Columbus Day in October. A CCFA spokes person said the association hopes to extend the Pier to Plate program year-round. The agreements made with institutions such as schools and hospitals in metropolitan Boston are expected to be the base for making the program available all year.

Restaurants from Cape Dennis to Provincetown on the outer Cape are participating. Local fresh fish, not long ago an assumed benefit of being near the coast, have become a rarity as industrial food supply networks hauled fish long distances for processing. Local fish supplies are also being re-established in other areas of the country.