In October 2020, the Island’s largest year-round wholesale seafood buyer, the Menemsha Fish House (MFH), permanently closed its doors. This closure could not have come at a worse time for Martha’s Vineyard’s small-boat fishing industry. Without this wholesale market, many of the Island’s fishermen were left without a large outlet for their catch, forcing some to travel to the mainland and others to end their fishing businesses entirely.
With the critical need for the Island’s community fishermen to have an outlet to sell their catch, we launched the Martha’s Vineyard Seafood Collaborative, a supportive program which, at it's inception, operated as a local seafood wholesale buyer in Menemsha from 2021-2022. With the help of our fast-acting supporters, this new program was capable of purchasing hundreds of thousands of pounds of local seafood year-round and distributing it on and off the Island to markets, restaurants and off-island buyers–a vital service for Vineyard fishermen during a time of unprecedented strain.
Since its inception, another wholesale market, the Fish House MV, has opened on the island, further helping to stabilize the fishing industry and offer fair prices to, and an outlet for, our local fishermen. Their growth and commitment to our fishermen over the past two years has enabled us to shift our focus to address other areas of need.
What's New This Season:
With the wholesale market stabilized, our scope is expanding! This season, we are utilizing our space on the harbor to offer our fisherman infrastructural support – a 'hub' of sorts – where they can land their catch. We offer lumping and sorting services, access to ice, and overnight and long-term cold storage for their harvest.
Over the past two years of running our Seafood Collaborative, we’ve seen the persistence of stark food insecurity on Martha’s Vineyard. We are pivoting to meet these needs as well. We are expanding our Seafood Donation Program and our partnership with IGI's Island Food Pantry! With a new flash freezer acquired through a generous contribution by the Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank Charitable Foundation, this season we’ll purchase, process, and flash-freeze local fish in Menemsha, dockside, then donate this catch for use in ready-made meals and for high-quality, nutrient-dense options in the island’s food equity organizations.
We also plan to expand access to high quality local seafood to our community members by offering seafood shares through our new Community Supported Fishery (CSF) Program at the West Tisbury Farmers Market. Through our pilot CSF, we’ll offer non-target and underutilized species alongside better-known varieties like fluke and scallops. Jointly, these initiatives will broaden wholesale options for local fishermen in their homeport and help shore up our historic working waterfront.
We are very excited to implement these new initiatives. If you would like to contribute to our efforts, please consider a donation! Your contribution can increase our seafood donation volume; stabilize crucial dockside infrastructure (ice, cold storage, staff to meet, sort, and market seafood), and keep the lights running at the Collaborative.
Thank you for helping to fulfill our mission!
MV Seafood Collaborative Goals and Efforts:
Helping to preserve the iconic Menemsha waterfront as a working harbor for years to come
Stabilizing over 100 local fishing businesses
Increasing the availability of locally sourced seafood for Island restaurants and markets
Purchasing fresh fish from local fishermen at fair prices to create meals to be donated to families in need
To learn more about the MV Seafood Collaborative, visit vineyardseafood.org or check out the following news articles!
Fish House Revival Moves Closer to Reality in Menemsha, Vineyard Gazette, January 22, 2021
Fishermen's Trust Eyes Fish House Revival in Menemsha, Vineyard Gazette, December 16, 2020
New Stewards Sought for Menemsha Fish House, MV Times, December 16, 2020
Martha's Vineyard Seafood Collaborative Opens its Doors, MV Times, June 2, 2021
Fishermen's Trust Opens New Seafood Collaborative, Vineyard Gazette, June 2, 2021