Last weekend Big City Fish ShareHolders received Northern Puffer, or Blowfish, in their share. New York Blowfish are an underutilized species that most people have never tried or heard of, despite their inherent tastyness. The blowfish were the last of the season’s catch for fisherman Bruce Bennet. Bruce employs a pound net: an ancient method of fishing that has less environmental impact than other methods.
Pound nets are stationary fishing devices built close to shore and left in the water seasonally. They are like a big fish trap, or perhaps a fish waiting room, since the fish are not harmed. As you can see in the diagram below, pound nets are divided into three sections: a perpendicular to shore “leader” that blocks fish and turns them towards the pound; a heart-shaped section of nets that helps funnel the fish into the pound; and the actual pound net where fishermen can collect their catch. The structure is built to the top of shallow water, which keeps fish from escaping.
Pound nets are checked daily, and the wanted fish separated from the unwanted. The unwanted fish are simply dumped outside the pound, generally unharmed. This drastically cuts down on “bycatch”, or the unwanted fish and critters that are caught in other fishing methods. Pound nets, if sited in the right place, are also less detrimental to habitat than other fishing methods. Additionally, pound net fishermen use less fuel because the fish come to the fishermen, not the other way around.
With the coming of fall and dropping temperatures in New York waters, fish will leave for deeper or more southern climes. Big City Fish Share hopes to connect with Bruce again in the spring when those same species will return and find his pound net waiting….