Hi everyone, Jon Russell (he/him) here. I recently joined the NAMA team as the Food Justice organizer and wanted to take this chance to introduce myself and provide a grounding to start off this month’s newsletter!

This past week has been another juxtaposing of the struggles that fishing communities face today with the struggles of the Civil Rights era and beyond. From hearing the disappointing (yet expected) results of the trial of the murderers of Breonna Taylor, to the upcoming release of Jalil Muntaqim, a Black Panther who’s been imprisoned for over 49 years, we see systems that aren’t playing fair. Systems that weren’t designed to play fair in the first place.

These same systems have made it acceptable for unleveled playing fields to persist across our society - including in fishing communities. Whether its the Army Corps of engineers suppressing fishing community voices for a proposed factory fish farm or a seafood system that invisibilizes the people who catch our fish, the systemic roots are connected.

Yet in the face of these injustices, we see people resist, rise up, and build. 

For all the darkness that is being brought to our attention, be sure to ground in the light that is the resistance that has been happening and will continue to happen until we win! And as a microcosm of that resistance, I want to highlight some recent actions and events coming up!

The US Army Corps is poised to grant the final permit for the Velella Epsilon project off the coast of Sarasota, Florida – the first finfish aquaculture facility in federal waters – all without any opportunity for public notice or input. In a single year, this floating factory farm would raise more than 70,000 pounds of Almaco Jack (equivalent to annual commercial landings of that species in the entire state). 

NAMA and our partners in the Don’t Cage Our Ocean Coalition hosted a Virtual People’s Hearing yesterday (watch here) and we now invite you to join us in continuing to send a loud and clear message that we will not be silenced. Or as FL fisherman Casey Streeter put it, “keep these fish farms out of our waters.”

Indigenous fishing community leaders, friends at Uprooted & Rising, NAMA, and many others are helping to support the emerging campaign #BlockCorporateSalmon to stop GE salmon & the corporate takeover of the ocean.

Between AquaBounty trying to introduce Genetically Engineered Salmon to the market in the next coming months, to the AQUAA Act aiming to open the floodgates to offshore factory farms, we are at a critical moment where our voices truly matter. 

Over the next month we will be generating actions that say No to Industrial Aquaculture! and that build upon the sustained leadership of Tribes and fishing community members who have been at the forefront of this issue for many years. To learn more check out the recent webinar hosted by the Community Alliance for Global Justice and Uprooted and Rising. 

Of all of the dramatic shifts 2020 has brought, we find ourselves at a food system crossroads as the huge industrial supply chains that made food a globalized commodity essentially broke down last spring. Finding standard proteins and produce became a challenge.

However, essential workers like local farmers and fish harvesters who had already established some form of direct sales within and around their communities thrived, continuing to feed us all, and holding up local economies across the country and around the world. 

This webinar will feature stories from those in the seafood supply chain whose markets have grown with direct sales within a localized economy. We’ll hear what they’re doing to expand their operations and bring more people into the conversation about locally sourced seafood. And we’ll explore which narratives and business models are worth replicating elsewhere to continue changing the direction of our local seafood systems.

How cool is it that our friends at the Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts continue to carry the Seafood Throwdown spirit forward for the 10th year anniversary of the Boston Local Food Festival?

We are proud to have hosted a Seafood Throwdown at the inaugural BLFF in 2010 that led to a change in the City of Boston ordinances allowing sale of seafood at farmers markets, public property, and directly to consumers. 

This year SBN continued the tradition by featuring Chef Annabel Rabiyah of the Awafi Kitchen and Chef Ricardo Monroy and local seafood supplies by Red’s Best. The Virtual Seafood Throwdown was held on Tuesday, September 29. Please help spread the word and help keep alive the spirit of what would have been the 11th Annual Boston Local Food Festival this year. 

For over a decade, this time of year has marked the start of a road trip to Farm Aid for us. But as with all other big gatherings, this year’s Farm Aid Festival took
place virtually on September 26th and included performances
from over 20 artists.

We’ve been taking part in Farm Aid
since we became a member of the National Family Farm Coalition back in 2008. With each passing year, we were able to bring more and more of what
community based fishermen stand for into the Farm Aid family and the Festival.

During these years, we've connected fishermen and fishing community leaders from all over the country to thousands of concert-goers and supporters in order to call attention to issues around fair price and fair access. We have even have even been facilitating more and more seafood to be eaten by the artists, crew, VIP tent, and general public. Plus hosting working waterfront tours!

But quite possibly the most memorable moment might just be trying to get seafood to the 2016 Virginia Farm Aid. Thanks to Sharon Peele Kennedy of Buxton, NC, we overcame the loss of infrastructure and transportation due to consolidation and got the seafood to the Festival using medical transport. It makes for a good laugh whenever we are with the Farm Aid culinary team and have a good laugh about the shrimp traveling in an ambulance. 

We are excited by the energy infusion into our work by the new additions to our team and our board of trustees. Please join us in welcoming to our staff:

JON RUSSELL (he/him)
Food Justice Organizer | See bio

ELLIOTT SNOW (they/them)
Digital Organizer | See bio

Program Assistant | See bio

And, please roll out the welcome mat to new members of our board of trustees:
The Williams Agency

Communications Director
Food Solutions New England
Community Support & Resources for the Revol-Ocean 

  • Check out our British Columbia friends and the Fishing for Communities' campaign video to promote seafood as part of our broader food system.