My name is Sarah VanHorn, and I’m a senior marine biology and writing student at the University of New Hampshire. Born and raised on the coast of Southern Maine, I’ve forever been enchanted with all things ocean: from the seaweed to the salty water, from the lobster our local economy thrives on, to the phytoplankton that the whales feed on.
While studying at UNH, I simultaneously worked at Jackson Estuarine Laboratory on Great Bay and the Black Trumpet Bistro, a restaurant that prides itself on utilizing the seasons’ freshest ingredients. The combination of these two part-time jobs – working on the water and serving local fish at the restaurant – in addition to my marine biology electives, got me thinking about how little people know about our local waters.
“How are fish fished? Who’s doing the fishing? How was it caught? Where was it caught?” These were the some of the questions I thought about. While we have arrived amidst a green revolution, while local is becoming “better,” it seems one facet of our green planet, or shall we say blue planet, has been neglected. What about our oceans and the ecosystems within it?
With over 50 percent of the U.S. population residing along a coast, it seems evident that coasts hold a profound appeal to people across the country. However, as with the land, we have been disconnected from knowing where our food comes from, even though seafood remains an integral component of our seacoast’s economy.
When awarded the opportunity to intern as a Brian E. Doyle Fellow with N.H. Sea Grant this past summer, helping to promote the NH Fresh and Local Seafood brand, I embarked upon a journey to gain a broader understanding of what is below the surface and in the markets, as well as on our plates. I’ve been conducting interviews with local market owners, chefs, and, most importantly, our local NH commercial fishermen. Throughout the summer, I had the opportunity to fish, both gillnetting and dragging, with some 15 local commercial fishermen who I interviewed and photographed.
In order to share my experiences with a broader audience, I created a blog called “Fishues: NH Seacoast’s Fish Issues.”
With regular articles posted on my “Fishues” blog I hope to motivate you and to think about the deep blue sea that lies so close to us and yet is unknown.
I also invite you to learn more about our local fishing industry and the players within it by subscribing to “Fishues” for regular updates.
Meet Sarah VanHorn and some of the local fishermen in person at Prescott Park’s 4th Annual Fishtival, a fish and lobster festival taking place, Saturday, September 22nd in Portsmouth, N.H.
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Story and Photography by Sarah VanHorn ’12