Fishermen’s Alliance to Launch Program to Promote Dogfish, Skate

CHATHAM – The Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance is launching a new program Memorial Day weekend to create demand for “under-loved” fish species caught in area waters.

Pier to Plate will see small-boat fishermen give free skate and dogfish throughout the summer to 20 restaurants, a fish market and catering company on the Lower Cape to serve to customers.

“This program is actually giving the fish to the restaurants for the summer to experiment with, play with, and serve to their clients,” said Nancy Civetta, the communications director for the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance. “And that way we are hoping to just make them very popular because people will be more familiar with them if they find them on restaurant menus and in fish markets.”

The skate and dogfish, or Cape shark, are caught in abundance off Cape Cod and are mostly shipped overseas to be used in restaurants in Europe and Asia.

The goal of Pier to Plate is to make a consistent supply of these species available locally in an effort to support sustainable fishing on Cape Cod and familiarize residents, visitors and chefs with the fish swimming off the shore.

“We just aren’t landing as much cod and other groundfish as we used to here on Cape Cod,” Civetta said. “It’s a changing ecosystem out there. It’s still full of fish. It’s just different fish than we are used to eating.”

Civetta said the program is receiving support from the restaurant community as the Alliance has met with many around the Lower Cape.

“I think everybody is on board with trying to create a local fish movement on the Cape and they just needed to get a little bit more familiar,” she said.

Local chefs are working to develop menu items using dogfish and skate.

“These are sustainable fish that we feel good about introducing to our customers,” said Wes Martin, chef at Far Land Provisions in Provincetown.

Greg Walinski, of South Yarmouth, has been fishing for dogfish off Cape Cod for 30 years.

“Once people realize what an abundant resource we have right off our shores and begin to embrace this versatile fish, our day-boat fishery will really thrive,” Walinski said.

Greg Connors, of Chatham, was one of the first fishermen to fish for skate in the area.

“Skate is plentiful, locally caught, delicious fish, and Americans should eat it,” Connors said.

Several community events will be held next month to kick off the program and showcase the fish species.

Skate tasting at Chatham Fish and Lobster will provide residents a chance to try skate, meet local fishermen and learn more about the fish. The event is Saturday June 3, from noon to 2 p.m.

Free samples of dogfish and skate will be served at Bowling with the Dogs at Big Dogs Barbecue at the Orleans Bowling Center on Thursday, June 15 at 5 p.m. The evening will feature half-price bowling.

The Far Land on the Beach Summer Kickoff event will be held Saturday, June 17 at Herring Cove Beach in Provincetown at 5 p.m. Dogfish and skate appetizers will be available to sample. Attendees will also be able to meet fishermen and local elected officials, along with representatives from the Cape Cod National Seashore.

The Alliance’s Meet the Fleet event will be held Wednesday, June 28 at 5 p.m. at Nauset Marine Marina East in Orleans.

Fishermen John Tuttle and Tim Linnell will discuss dogfish and skate and how important they are to the local fishing industry.

Caleb Hessler, a Chatham chef of What’s Cooking Catering & Events at the Lazy Lobster, will offer cooking tips, tastes and recipes.

Meet the Fleet is free and open to the public but donations are encouraged. An RSVP is required to attend the event and can be made at rsvp@capecodfishermen.org or by calling 508-945-2432 extension 102.

A list of restaurants participating in the Pier to Plate program can be found starting Friday at piertoplate.org.

The program is expected to run at least through Labor Day, according to Civetta.

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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