We are: pioneers building next generation wild seafood sourcing systems

Dock to Dish is an international network of small-scale fishermen, marine biologists and sustainable seafood advocates working in teams from ports and harbors across North and Central America. We are collectively committed to making local, traceable, low-impact wild seafood accessible to organized groups of cooperative members through our unique community and restaurant supported fishery programs.

Over the past five years we have worked on the coastal frontiers of the local food movement, creating new alternatives to old industrialized seafood supply chains in cities and towns spanning from New York and California to Canada and Costa Rica. Across this broad spectrum, our place-based sourcing initiatives have blazed new trails toward the restoration of transparency and sustainability in ocean-driven cuisine and the wild seafood marketplace at large.

In June of 2017, The United Nations Foundation designated the Dock to Dish community and restaurant supported fishery model as one of the top breakthrough innovations that can scale to solve the ocean’s grand challenges—and put us on a path to healthy, valued, understood oceans.

“In 20 years, it will be commonplace for families and restaurants around the world to have membership access to their nearest wild fishery. Dock to Dish has arrived decades ahead of its time.”

Know Your Fisherman

Watch leading U.S. chefs and authors explain the Dock to Dish difference in this short video:

Our Story

Dock to Dish began as a small mission-driven community supported fishery program headquartered in the historic fishing port of Montauk, New York. Founded in 2012, we worked closely with the Concerned Citizens of Montauk Association to establish the original Dock to Dish program because we were determined to fix our broken local food system.

From the very start, our primary purpose was to restore source transparency into the seafood marketplace and bring back our long-lost Know Your Fisherman culture—with the goal being that one day everyone would again be able to know exactly who caught what. We began by creating basic transparency programs that were designed to reconnect our small-scale fishery directly to our local community in sustainable seafood sourcing cooperatives.

We soon discovered that by using this membership-based organizational blueprint, modeled after the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) concept, Dock to Dish programs had begun to innovate an entirely new economic model for wild local seafood.

Captain John Aldridge | A Speck in the SeaWhile remaining absolutely disconnected from the industrialized global seafood supply chain, we then began to build purchasing cooperatives made up of high-volume restaurants; and entered them into seasonal futures contracts that could only be fulfilled by our alliance of local artisanal fishermen. In doing so, we had successfully created the very first Restaurant Supported Fishery (RSF) program in the world. This New York Times feature article about Dock to Dish, “Getting the Catch Directly to the Restaurant,” accurately explains the design and impacts of the RSF innovation during the first phase.

Driven by the steadfast support and enthusiasm of those early founding members, the first RSF program has since expanded rapidly. In our most recent season it consisted of over two dozen premier restaurant venues in Montauk, Sag Harbor, Bridgehampton and New York City; as well as numerous institutional level members, including Eataly NYC and the Google Corporation at their sprawling Chelsea campus.

Today the mission, methods and philosophy of Dock to Dish are driving dramatic changes in the domestic marketplace and shifting the seafood paradigm internationally. We are pioneering a revival of place-based culinary practices among all of our participating members, and with many of their peers. Our cooperative members are now able to live track, trace and learn all about the artisanal fishermen who are catching and landing their hauls; and Dock to Dish is restoring transparency and accountability into an otherwise opaque, globalized and often fraudulent seafood marketplace.

Our Goals

  • To support healthy fisheries and the communities that depend on them by introducing a new membership-based, supply-driven market model for wild seafood
  • To design and proliferate the most advanced live tracking technologies in the world
  • To provide our members with reliable access to fresh, premium, locally harvested, fully traceable seafood directly from the dock
  • To directly engage our fishermen and community members in the most transparent seafood supply system with a minimized and illuminated chain of custody
  • To ensure maximum seafood quality and freshness while maintaining the highest levels of safe handling practices
  • To support and collaborate with local organizations that are dedicated to actively protecting our oceans and environment
  • To fundamentally change seafood marketplaces by demonstrating to producers, through consumer demand, the economic and ecological value of traceable, sustainable seafood
  • To accept responsibility for the stewardship of our marine ecosystem to ensure that succeeding generations will have an equal or better opportunity to benefit from its resources

Cayuga Collection Presents Dock to Dish: Expansion in Central America

Sustainability

Our mission is to provide current and future generations of Dock to Dish cooperative members with fully transparent access to the freshest, healthiest and most sustainable wild seafood harvests available in their respective regions — while leading the ongoing adaptation of coastal communities to climate change.

“The future of sustainability is traceability.”

The Dock to Dish mission, model and methods were all designed with your grandchildren’s great grandchildren in mind.  Since our inception, we have developed and honed the most sophisticated sustainability criteria—and most advanced tracking and traceability technologies—ever introduced to the wild seafood industry in tandem.

Our unique membership programs are driven by abundant, underutilized local supply, instead of high-pressured global demand on specific target species. We require no more than 150 total “food miles” for transport, with as few as 10 in some distribution areas; and our operations generate the smallest carbon footprint of any other sourcing and distribution model in our class.


[Graphic courtesy of The Future of Fish]

Know Your Fisherman

At Dock to Dish we are continuing to revolutionize the marketplace by pioneering the world’s first live tracking dashboard to monitor hauls of wild seafood, with precision accuracy, from individual fishermen at sea directly to end consumers on land, in near-real time calibration.

This unprecedented technology bundle that we are bringing online has been dubbed Dock to Dish 2.0, and is being created in partnership with Pelagic Data Systems®, Local Catch and Fish Trax Technologies. Once completed, the bundle will be open-sourced for all independent small- and medium-scale fisheries operations around the world to replicate and use.

“We are global leaders in live tracking technology.”

Dock to Dish sustainability initiatives have recently been recognized by the United Nations Foundation as being among the most advanced in the world, and have been featured prominently in the NY Times, LA Times, Washington Post, NPR, TIME magazine, the March for Science, VICE Environmental and National Geographic magazine. Special Dock to Dish video productions on sustainability have recently aired on PBS, ABC, WLIW, Zagat Channel, Smithsonian Channel, KTLA 5, the Karma Network and the Travel Channel.

Dock to Dish has also recently been featured at the New York Times Food for Tomorrow Conference; ranked among the 25 Most Daring Organizations by Vanity Fair and Conde Nast magazines; named to Grist’s list of the Foremost 50 Initiatives Fighting for a More Sustainable Future; listed as one of Sonima’s top 50 Innovators Shaping the Future of Wellness; identified as one of the Top 7 Leaders of the Future of Food by Bon Appetit magazine; designated as New York State’s ambassador to the “United States of Healthy” by editors of Cooking Light magazine; nominated by both the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Carl Safina to be recognized by the White House as a United States Champion of Change for Sustainable Seafood (during the previous administration); presented at TEDx Montclair; and been designated by Governor Andrew Cuomo to serve as a member of the New York State Marine Resources Advisory Council (MRAC) at the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) through 2019.

We are proud founding members of the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA), the Amagansett Food Institute (AFI) and LocalCatch.org and also serve on the executive board of the esteemed Greenwave.org where we work to advance 3D ocean farming designed to restore ocean ecosystems, mitigate climate change, and create blue-green jobs for fishermen — while providing healthy, local food for communities.

The Smithsonian Channel presents Dock to Dish

Explore the origins of the Dock to Dish model in this short video produced by The Smithsonian Channel

Small carbon footprint, huge digital fingerprint

Over the past fifty years, the seafood industry has become interconnected at a global scale, with fish now being the number one most traded food commodity worldwide ($130bn,) followed by soybeans and wheat. The average travel distance for seafood consumed in the U.S. is a staggering 5,476 miles.  Because seafood is so highly perishable, it is often shipped in airplanes. Air freight ranks as the number one leading carbon producing means of transport; for every one pound of fish that is shipped across the country by air, more than two pounds of carbon is produced and released into the atmosphere.

Dock to Dish fish never travels by air, nor leaves a 150-mile radius from the port that it was landed in. Our average “food miles” are in the 75 mile range, and our “fingerprint fish” policy ensures that 100% of all seafood distributed to our members can be traced back to the hands of a licensed commercial fisherman or specific vessel.

Headquartered in Montauk, New York, we work hard to actively engage seafood producers and consumers through a membership-based, supply-driven marketplace model, where local commercial fishers are incentivized to only harvest seafood that is rated abundant and sustainable by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.  By directly reconnecting our communities with the fishers who provide their seafood we are able to provide full accountability and transparency through an elimination of the industrialized ‘chain-of-custody’ for fish that historically existed between the dock and the dish.

Our innovative model has proven to be a win-win-win for the environment, the consumers and the commercial fishers—with our future generations designated as the most prominent beneficiaries.

The Dock to Dish Difference

At Dock to Dish we are changing the nature of our seafood economy by pioneering fundamental, yet drastic, improvements to the outdated and perilous industrialized system of seafood sourcing and distribution that is currently in place throughout North and Central America. By demonstrating that a supply-driven membership model can flourish in numerous regional markets, we are creating a blueprint to be replicated internationally while revitalizing the commercial fishing ports of Montauk, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Quepos, Lake Nicaragua, Chesapeake Bay and Vancouver.

By comparison:

5,476 miles = average distance that seafood consumed in the United States has traveled from fisherman to plate*.
71.2 miles = average distance that seafood consumed by Dock to Dish members has traveled from dock to dish.
* National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA, 2016)

Because “the U.S. imports up to 90 percent of its seafood, about half of which is aquaculture,” our current industrialized system is undisputedly contributing to global warming and climate change.

At Dock to Dish, we designed our system to have a dramatically minimized carbon footprint and a reduction of ‘food miles’ that is measured by orders of magnitude. Our new system of local seafood sourcing and distribution was also built upon a broad spectrum of environmental best management practices for fisheries sustainability, and we are concurrently focused on increasing public access to the safest, freshest North and Central American seafood available while advocating for good health through holistic nutrition. We believe that our work is critical to realigning our nation’s food system, improving community health and elevating compensation and recognition for commercial fishing families — while ensuring the long term sustainability of our oceans and protecting working waterfronts.

Because of our comprehensive ecosystem-based management approach, we are proud to have been named a Featured Supplier of sustainable seafood by FishChoice. This internationally recognized organization uses up-to-date sustainability ratings and certification information on wild fisheries that utilize environmentally responsible fishing methods.  To ensure rating accuracy of their featured suppliers, FishChoice targets and analyzes the entire U.S. and Canadian seafood supply chain, and has partnered with only the most respected organizations that have science-based, credible sustainable seafood programs, including:

  • Seafood Watch
  • SeaChoice
  • Ocean Wise
  • Blue Ocean Institute
  • NOAA Fisheries’ FishWatch
  • Aquaculture Stewardship Council
  • Marine Stewardship Council
  • Food Alliance Certification

We believe that sustainable seafood is a simple concept: collaboratively managing our resources so that there will be equal or greater availability for future generations. But genuine sustainability is often an elusive goal, and truly achieving it can be like hitting a moving target from a moving target. Sustainability exists on a sliding scale spread across multiple criteria: food miles, mode of transport, carbon emissions, fishing methods, the size/location/species of fish, packaging materials. There is no shortage of ways to measure sustainability. We recognize that the challenge is to identify where we can play the most effective and balanced role through supporting our fishing partners, sharing their harvest with our members and educating ourselves and the community on ways to best preserve our ecosystems.

We are constantly striving to improve and expand the Dock to Dish model of sustainability so that we can assure our members, our producers and the community that we are genuinely producing the least environmental impact possible—while providing superior seafood for our friends and neighbors.

We always appreciate your thoughts and ideas, please email them to us at info@docktodish.com

Interested in becoming a Dock to Dish member? Join our waiting list.

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