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Our initiative borrows the concept of a triple bottom line from The Conservation Fund’s Resourceful Communities. The idea is simple: long-term solutions recognize the interconnectedness of ecological, economic, and socio-cultural systems. 

GOAL: To increase the viability of traditional coastal communities by fostering economic opportunities that support natural resource-based livelihoods.

GOAL: To cultivate healthy community ties within and between North Carolina’s rural and urban sectors.

GOAL: To encourage an ethic of ecological stewardship that results in creative, community-based approaches to conservation.

Rural communities play an important role in maintaining the integrity and function of the natural environment. Being closely connected to the landscape spatially, culturally, and economically, rural communities have long served as stewards of our most in-tact, open ecosystems.

In recent decades, North Carolina’s rural coastal communities, like many resource-dependent communities across the U.S., have faced fundamental changes. Perhaps most obvious has been a shift in the economy from primarily resource-based to amenity-driven. The changes, brought about in part by increased regulation, aging infrastructure, reduced fish stocks, and competition with global markets, threatens the social and cultural character of the region and limits communities’ independence, control, and capacity as stewards of our coastal waters.

The Walking Fish Initiative acknowledges the value of these communities and recognizes the link between healthy people and secure, resource-based livelihoods by seeking to create long-term, regionally-appropriate markets for fresh, local, low-impact seafood.

Rural and urban communities are inextricably linked, and yet relationships are often marked by distrust and misunderstandings. Though this tension plays out in regions from coast to coast, very few community development projects directly address this issue.

Through the creation of community-supported fishery (CSF) projects we hope to create opportunities for members of rural and urban communities to come together. This happens, we believe, at three levels: 1) through the transfer of fresh seafood ‘from boat to fork’; 2) via our website and Members’ Forum where community members can post questions, comments, and ideas; and 3) through educational events, lectures, and personal conversations.

Drawing people together is an opportunity to start a dialogue about sustainability, local food, and health. And in doing so, it is an opportunity to build stronger communities and create an inclusive vision for the future.

Conservation and stewardship are core values of the Walking Fish Initiative. By facilitating community-supported fishery (CSF) projects, we see an opportunity to effect change at multiple levels. Initially, by increasing access to local seafood, the CSF provides an opportunity for consumers to decrease the carbon footprint of their diet (made even smaller by the carbon offsets we’re buying to negate the cost of coast-to-Triangle transportation).

But we envision something more; something bigger.

An underlying objective of this project is to work towards enhancing the viability of our local fisheries. An important step in this process, we believe, is to include North Carolina’s commercial fishing sector in a vision for a sustainable, secure, local food system. Already this conversation is happening in North Carolina’s agricultural sector. Small-scale, local growers are no longer seen as just farmers. More then ever, as we realize the benefits they provide, they are being seen as the foundation of our communities.

By acknowledging fishermen and fishing communities as valuable members of our local food system, they gain respect and responsibility. As such, we believe that just as the ‘community-supported agriculture’ (CSA) model can encourage sustainable and profitable farming practices, CSFs have the potential to do the same for fishing.

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