Thursday, May 26, 2016

Amanda Parks's Adventures at Sea--squid dragging off Nantucket

I contacted Amanda Parks when I learned that I could buy fresh off-the-boat squid from her. After working many hours on the fishing boat she still had energy to drive all over coastal New Hampshire to deliver bags of squid to lucky people like me. I am thrilled that she has agreed to be my guest blogger. Thank you Amanda for sharing your well written work adventures with us! If you are in or near seacoast New Hampshire and you would like to purchase the best tasting squid ever you may contact (text, call or email) Amanda at 603-707-7517 or amanda@newenglandfishmongers.com. Squid season is extremely short so don't miss out, call and reserve your share today! According to Rimrack Fish by June 9th (2016) the squid season will be over. You may find New England Fishmongers and Rimrack Fish on Facebook.
 
a happy day for Amanda Parks, Spencer C Montgomery and F/V Rimrack
(photo courtesy of F/V Rimrack, 2016)

Amanda Parks's Adventures at Sea--squid dragging off Nantucket

May marks the one year milestone of my transformation from consumer to producer. I set sail on the voyage to learn more about my fishing community and the sustainability of seafood and in a series of fortunate events found myself working as crew aboard the FV Finlander. Along with captain Tim Rider and the rest of the enthusiastic crew, we set out sixty to eighty miles offshore from Eliot, Maine to jig for pollock, cod, and haddock using rods and reels. No sooner than my first fish coming out of the water, I knew I was hooked. I now fish regularly on the boat and spend the rest of the time working with Tim on selling our catch to local restaurants in the seacoast region. 

Yearning for more exposure to the different styles of fishing, I reached out to the Anderson's who own and run the FV Rimrack out of Rye, New Hampshire and are famous across the Granite State and beyond for their pristine sea scallops they sell dockside after landing. When the scallop season ends they move the boat down to the Cape (Cod) to dock in Hyannis to harvest squid. They invited my boyfriend, another Finlander crew member and the director of seafood at Dole & Bailey, to join father and daughter team, Mike and Kelsea, for two days of squid fishing. We set out from Hyannis harbor at 3 AM and fished between there and Nantucket, docking up on the island for the night. This was their 8th consecutive day fishing but with such a short season, early May to early June, a day not on the water is a lost harvest. Kelsea would hook up the gear as Mike unrolled the net into the water as we towed along. We would leave this down for anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour, monitoring the fish scanner to make sure there weren't any signs of undesired species schooling up in our track. As a batch of coffee brewed inside we settled in and spent the time discussing the history of Mike's career, Kelsea's adventures in Chile documenting local fishermen, how the Finlander operated, how the industry has changed, and plenty of stories at sea. The time to haul up the net calls for a change in pace as we set down our mugs and get into our oil skins, boots, and gloves. The net rolls up and we stand anxiously awaiting for what the net holds! The ball of squid in the net is hauled up and Mike releases the catch onto the deck and we get to sorting. Scup in one bucket, butterfish in another, and squid fill the rest. Once we finish the sorting the deck is washed off all the ink that was sprayed during the harvest and the net goes back down for haul number two. We continue this until sundown with lots more storytelling as well as sampling of the catch, including the captains famous chowder and the freshest squid and butterfish sashimi you'd ever be able to consume!

News headlines of declining stocks, fraud, corruption, and fishermen leaving the industry paint a dismal picture of the future of New England fisheries. While, yes, there are these things happening, I want to paint a brighter narrative for the fate of our region and this long lived and important industry. We have the power to shift who is fishing, what we fish for, how much we catch, and how the catch is treated. I encourage people, especially young people such as myself, to push for our right to have access to this beautiful natural resource that continually gives us and our communities sustenance not only in food, but in the culture that shapes us.

out at sea
(photo courtesy of Amanda Parks, 2016)
Mike Anderson and his catch
(photo courtesy of F/V Rimrack, 2016)
sorting the catch (Spencer C Montgomery, Amanda Parks and Kelsea Anderson)
(photo courtesy of F/V Rimrack, 2016)
a beautiful freshly caught squid
(photo courtesy of Spencer C Montgomery, 2016)
clear squid eye = freshness
(photo courtesy of Spencer C Montgomery, 2016
Spencer and fresh squid
(photo courtesy of Amanda Parks, 2016)

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