Welcome aboard Skipper Otto’s Community Supported Fishery!
We are thrilled that you found us and we can’t wait to get to know each other.
My name is Sonia Strobel and, along with my husband, Shaun, I founded Skipper Otto’s Community Supported Fishery to connect conscientious consumers (like you!) directly to local, independent fishing families (like us!) and to our sustainably harvested catch. I’d like to welcome you and tell you a bit about our family story, what we do, and how you have become a part of our community!
Who we are and how we got started
Skipper Otto is Shaun’s dad. He started fishing on the BC coast in the 1960’s. At that time, there were thousands of families like theirs harvesting seafood in traditional, sustainable ways. But by the time Shaun graduated from high school, things had changed. The once robust fleet of independent fishermen had been reduced to a skeleton crew of old men. Changes to regulations meant that now a handful of massive corporations controlled the industry. And this lengthy supply chain means that seafood now changes hands dozens of times, travelling around the globe before reaching the hands of consumers. This usually means increased costs and environmental damage, lower wages paid to fishermen, and a lack of transparency for consumers.
And so that’s where we come in! We started Skipper Otto’s Community Supported Fishery to keep independent small-scale fishing alive in BC, protecting our valuable ocean resources, and ensuring customers could have direct access to wild, sustainable BC seafood. We’ve cut out the “middle man” providing you with complete transparency. We educate consumers around important issues in fisheries, and we’re rebuilding robust local food systems and communities.
By purchasing a share in the catch before our fishing season begins, you have provided our collective of 30 fishing families with the up front money to allow us to fish another season in our traditional, artisanal, low-impact ways. And, in exchange, we promise to provide you with premium quality seafood and the complete story of exactly who caught what, when, where, and how.
So, what does this look like for our fishing families?
Our fishermen (and by the way, both our men and women who fish refer to themselves as “fishermen”) are independent but prefer working with us because we give them a fair price. We respect our fishermen and negotiate prices transparently and in good faith. We even push the fishing grounds prices up for all fishermen in some situations when other buyers are taking advantage of their monopoly power. At the same time, the vast majority of our products’ member prices are competitive with other markets and fish shops. Our supply chain is much leaner than conventional systems and so there is plenty of room for both a fair price for fishermen and a fair price for consumers. And for our fishermen, since the cost of fishing is so high, capturing more value for their catch can make the difference between being able to replace a dead engine at the end of the season or being forced to sell the boat and give up fishing.
When can I start picking up my seafood?
You’ll find all the ordering and pick-up opportunities for your location here on our website. Take a moment now to put them into your calendar so you never miss a chance to collect your seafood! You’ll also receive monthly emails from me when it’s time to order and, if you live in Metro Vancouver, I’ll also send you an email each week when we have fresh and live seafood exclusively for you at the False Creek Fishermen’s Wharf.
How do I get my seafood?
1. Login to The Dock
As a member, you have exclusive access to our online store and member portal “The Dock”. Login using the email and the password you used to sign up. Don’t worry if you’ve forgotten your password – you can always reset it on the login page.
As soon as you login, you’ll arrive at The Dock, your personalized landing page where you can view and edit your account details, see all your upcoming pick-up opportunities, place and make changes to your orders, increase your share size and more. Login now and get to know the system!
2. Start Shopping!
The Dock functions like a typical online shopping experience with a few differences. First, you’ll be asked to select your pick-up location and dates before you begin shopping. Next, you’ll be able to browse the store, select items, and put them in your cart. At check-out, review your order and submit it. When we pack your order, each item will be weighed and the exact dollar value will be deducted from your pre-purchased share credits.
As soon as you place your order, you’ll receive an automated order confirmation so that you know your order went through. Put the pick-up dates in your calendar right away so you don’t forget to collect your order!
3. Pick up your order
You’ll receive a reminder email when your order is available for pick-up. If you are picking up at a Community Partner store in your neighbourhood, you’ll just need to go to Customer Service or to the Meat/ Deli department. Let the staff know you are picking up a Skipper Otto’s order and tell them the name of the main member on the account. The staff will retrieve your order from the freezer and you are all done. Remember that our Community Partners offer this service completely free of charge because they share our values around creating a just and sustainable food system. It also gives them the opportunity to try to win you over as a customer to shop in their store when you pick-up. So please thank them and consider doing a little shopping while you are in the store!
Walk-ups are Welcome at the Fishermen’s Wharf
You are always welcome at the False Creek Fishermen’s Wharf in Vancouver as a walk-up at any of our year-round-Thursday-night and summer-Saturday-morning pick-ups. Just come to the Member Services table and we’ll be happy to look up your account and put your order together while you wait. It’ll just take a little longer than if you pre-order, but it’s handy if you didn’t get a chance to order ahead of time. Unfortunately, none of our other pick-up locations can serve walk-ups since we pre-pack your orders at the Fishermen’s Wharf and deliver them to the Community Partner.
4. Cook, preserve, store, and enjoying your catch!
Our website and blog contain a huge variety of recipes and tips for safely handing and storing your seafood to preserve its catch-day freshness. For members in Vancouver, we also offer a free equipment library for our members including canners, smokers, and vacuum sealers if you’d like to preserve your own fresh fish. Just come on down to the Fishermen’s Wharf and we’ll show you what we have. We just ask you to return it the following week in the same or better condition that you found it in.
What seafood can I get?
Our website outlines what types of seafood we usually have available. You can also check out our handy seasonality guide that lets you know what seafood we expect to be catching when. And, any time you login to The Dock, you’ll also see what currently available in our members’-only online store along with the full details of who caught it, where, and how, and the current price.
What if I run out of credit and want more seafood?
You may find that you use up your share credits sooner than you expected once you get used to eating delicious sustainable seafood year round! Not to worry. You can increase your share size by $100 increments from The Dock anytime. Wherever possible, we ask you to right-size your share as early in the season as possible as we use your share sizes to plan how much fish to catch. But certainly in your first year, we understand that you may just not know how much seafood you’ll need!
What if I don’t use up my credits by the end of the year?
We use your pre-purchased membership dollars to pay fishermen an upfront, living wage for their catch and, as a result, we have caught just the right amount of fish for our members for each season. Because of this, it’s important you collect your seafood and use up your credits each year. Small, unused credits up to $50 will roll over to the following year if you join again. Otherwise, unused credits will be donated to charity.
We recognize that getting your balance exactly to zero can be tricky, so in the last few months of the year, we allow you to order more than your share credit will allow and pay the difference by credit card.
Check out our FAQ page for more frequently asked questions about how it all works!
Join us in Vancouver for BBQ’s Workshops and Other Events
You’ll be invited to participate in lots of fun events down at the False Creek Fishermen’s Wharf throughout the year! Even if you don’t live in Vancouver, we’ll let you know about events just in case you are passing through town at the time of one of our events. We love meeting our out-of-town members in person whenever possible. Over the last couple years, our members have enjoyed spot prawn BBQ’s, salmon BBQ’s and even a hands-on salmon leather workshop!
You’ll receive a monthly email from me throughout the year with fishing stories, recipes, events, news, and info about what’s available when. These emails will also let you know when it’s time to order and pick-up.
I also love to share stories and photos on social media. Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and share your own stories and photos from collecting and enjoying your catch using the hashtag #skipperotto. All our fishing families love hearing from you about how you are enjoying the seafood we worked so hard to catch for you!
Shaun, the kids, and I are so excited to have you on board for the coming fishing season! We believe the economic support of independent coastal fishermen is intrinsically tied to the sustainable management of our marine ecosystems. Your support makes it possible for us to work towards the protection of ocean resources and the creation of a more robust, connected, and sustainable food system.
– Sonia and Shaun Strobel and the whole Skipper Otto’s team.