What are the risks?
Fishing is a risky enterprise! Nature is unpredictable, and there is always the chance that it will be a poor season for some species, or that quotas, licenses, and fuel costs will shift. Our members agree to come along side us and take on a small part of that risk. If it is a poor season for a certain species, members may have to take their share in other items. If quota prices for a certain species increase, member prices for that product may increase. To buffer this risk, we have a diverse product range of species for our members to choose from and enjoy.
What are the benefits of a CSF?
Skipper Otto’s CSF is a triple bottom-line business which means the benefits are in many different areas:
- CSF programs began as a method to help marine ecosystems recover from the effects of overfishing while supporting fishing communities
- Fishermen are able to alter their target species based on what is abundant, not what is in high demand by the larger supply chain.
- Exploited species are given a break
- Provides a framework through which fishermen and consumers can creatively steward marine resources
- Because we cut out the middleman we can afford to pay fishermen a higher price per lb so they don’t need to resort to higher-impact, less sustainable fishing practices to stay in business
- Ensures independent, small-scale, low-impact fishermen receive a fair price for their catch and are able to remain in an industry dominated by big business and aquaculture
- Ensures that members pay a fair, stable price for their seafood and understand exactly where their dollars are going
- Engages fishermen and community members in a more robust local food system
- Establishes a transparent chain-of-custody from boat to fork
- Increases access to premium, local, sustainably harvested seafood.
- Educates consumers about local fisheries practices and concerns directly from the fishermen and fishermen gain knowledge about what their consumers value.
What will I get?
Our products include:
- sashimi grade salmon fillets (sockeye, chinook, coho, chum, and pink);
- a variety of smoked, candied, and canned salmon products;
- sashimi grade albacore tuna loins;
- halibut fillets;
- lingcod fillets;
- spot prawns;
- giant Pacific octopus;
- humpback shrimp;
- rockfish fillets;
- Pacific hake fillets;
- Dungeness crab;
- Pacific oysters;
- pink and spiny scallops;
- Arctic char;
- a variety of dried and frozen kelp products
We add new products to our offering whenever we are able to welcome new, values-aligned fishing families aboard.
Skipper Otto’s CSF is not a monthly seafood box program. Rather, you can choose what you like when you like from what we are catching. For example, if you purchase a $500 share, you can order whatever you like from our inventory to a total of $500 at as many or as few pick-ups as you like. Each item is assigned a fair price based on that year’s fishing, processing, and transport costs.
What you can get for $500 varies based on what you like to order. If you choose higher priced products such as halibut and spot prawns, your $500 will get you a lot less seafood than if you choose lower priced items like pink salmon or hake. Use our share size calculator to help you decide what size share to buy!
The majority of our flash-frozen fillets come in 1 lb packages (2 serving sizes). We do try to get half pound portions whenever possible!
The nature of any CSA or CSF is that you are supporting fishers for whatever is the best, most sustainable fish they can catch on any given year. We do a lot of education about what is in season and what are the most sustainable choices.
What size share should I buy?
Deciding what size share suits your needs can be tricky! It depends on a variety of factors including how many people are in your household, how big your appetites are, what types of seafood you will eat, and how often you will eat them.
Fill out our quick share size calculator to find out how much seafood your family will eat in a year. The amount on the calculator is a good place to start since it is a minimum amount that is based on some of our less expensive items.
We encourage you to right-size your share at the beginning of the year because your share size is how we predict how much fish to catch in the fishing season. It also affords our fishing families the upfront money we need to go fishing. However, we know getting that number right can be tough, especially in your first year! Keep in mind that share sizes over $400 can be paid in instalments if you sign up before mid-February. You can also start with a smaller share and, when available, increase your share if you realize you don’t have enough credit.
Generally as members return year after year, it gets easier to select the right share size at the start of the season.
What does it cost?
Our share calculator will help you decide what size share you will need for the year. Membership shares start at $200 and are available in any size in $100 increments. Your pre-purchased share becomes your credit and each time you collect seafood, the dollar value is subtracted from the total.
On top of the share cost, you will also pay an annual membership fee which helps us offset the costs of getting your seafood to you. As we grow, we’re able to reduce membership fees every year!
INSIDER EARLY BIRD
Sign-up & pay:
Oct. 15 – Nov. 30
Sign-up & pay:
Dec. 1 – Feb. 28/29
Sign-up & pay:
Mar. 1 – May 31
Do you have a referral policy?
Yes! If you’re a current member and you refer a friend to Skipper Otto and they sign up, you each get $10 credit added to your accounts! When they sign up, they just need to enter your name or email in the Referrals section of the sign-up form. Once the referral is finalized (this can take a week or two), you’ll both get an email confirming that the credit has been added to both of your accounts. That’s it!
The fishing season
When does the season start?
The bulk of the fishing season gets going in May and lasts until roughly October, but you can collect frozen, smoked, and canned products from your share throughout the year. Because the vast majority of our seafood is flash-frozen, members can enjoy its catch-day freshness even months after the fishing season has ended!
If you’re curious to learn when certain species are fished, check out our Seasonality Guide blog post!
Signing up and ordering
How does ordering work?
Members receive regular email newsletters letting them know what is available and when it can be picked up. These newsletters contain a link to our online store where members can choose what they would like this time, and when and where they would like to pick it up. Once they submit their order, it is packed, labelled and delivered to the pick-up location. Unlike a subscription box program, you only place an order when you want something.
Members picking up at the False Creek Fishermen’s Wharf can also come as walk-ups for frozen, smoked, or canned products without ordering in advance. Picking up will just take a little longer as we will look up your account, weigh your items, and record your order while you wait.
Members picking up seafood from any other location must order in advance and will immediately receive an automated email confirmation to let them know their order was received and is on its way.
Where and when can I pick up my fish?
Our pick-up locations are values-aligned stores who volunteer to distribute our members’ orders across Metro Vancouver and Canada. We’ll keep you updated on when you can pick up at your nearby pick-up location. Once you receive our pick-up reminder email, all you have to do is go to your chosen location during the pick-up window to get your order. In most cases, you can come anytime over the course of several days during that store’s regular hours.
Different locations across Canada have different pick-up frequencies. Check out all our pick-up calendars on this page (just select your region from the dropdown menu).
Does my share expire?
We ask you to use up your share by Dec 31. This is because we used your membership dollars to catch seafood in that year and we can’t carry over a large inventory year to year. If you have credit leftover at the end of the season, and you join again for the next season, small balances (up to around $50) will roll over to the next year. Any uncollected shares are donated to charity.
Can I get a refund on part or all of my share?
When you purchase your share up front, you are telling us how much fish you’d like us to catch for you this year. Once the fishing season begins, that money is spent and your fish has been caught and put into cold storage. Therefore, we are unable to provide refunds of any kind. If you have a major life change such as moving cities to where we don’t offer CSF pick-ups or are no longer eating seafood, you are welcome to donate your share to family or friends. We are also happy to donate your share to one of our many local, community-based charity organizations so that low-income families, refugees, and at-risk and aboriginal youth can enjoy your unused CSF share.
Why do I have to pre-pay?
Can’t I just pay the exact amount when I pick-up?
Our Community Supported Fishery creates a unique relationship between consumers and fishing families. When you purchase your share up front, you are telling us how much fish you’d like us to catch for you this year. We are not a traditional retailer and so we don’t catch and store a lot of extra inventory. Instead, we use your upfront dollars to plan for the fishing season and cover up front costs. We’re so grateful for members who are willing to plan ahead with us in this way!
Can I top up my share if I run out?
Yes! We know it can be difficult to know how much seafood you’ll eat in a year, especially if this is your first season at Skipper Otto’s! And we also understand that not everyone can commit to their full share amount up front. This is why we allow members to increase their share size by $100 increments if they run out of credit before the end of the year.
Having said that, we’re asking those who can right-size their shares to do so as soon as they join: we use member money to pay fishers on a timely basis and to work with our fishermen to plan for how much fish we will need. Our model just wouldn’t work if everyone simply added credit each month, but we like being able to offer flexibility to those who need it. And keep in mind that, due to the way the fishing season is unfolding, we may need to shut off the purchasing of additional credit once the fishing season is underway.
We are happy for you to use the flexibility to top up your share later if you need it, but hope that, whenever possible, you will anticipate how much seafood you would like this year and purchase it ahead of time.
Between October-December of each year, we turn off $100 top-ups and allow members to pay as they go. This is so that members can spend down their share down as close to $0 as possible!
What are your product prices?
Product prices are based on the fair-trade price we pay our fishermen which depend on that year’s costs. Even though our fishermen are paid better than other fishermen on the coast, our members pay prices that are usually comparable to what they would pay at a local fish market for an equivalent product because our supply chain is so short! CSF members have access to all our current product prices when they login to the online store.