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One of the underlying goals of the CSF is to provide a narrative about the seafood you receive. Describing the process – how seafood gets from boat to fork – is an important part of this goal, as it adds transparency and meaning to the concept of "local."

In 2011 Walking Fish became a cooperative. The cooperative is one of the first of its kind in the United States and it reflects the group's hardwork and commitment to long-term viability. Without the support and generosity of the community - both in Durham and on the coast - the cooperative would not have been feasible.

[Photo: The Walking Fish Cooperative's Board of Directors]

WALKING FISH FISHERMEN (PDF)

 

Walking Fish Cooperative, Board of Directors


Bill Rice

 

BILL RICE - Processor

Bill is the owner/operator of Fishtowne LLC, a small HACCP certified seafood market on the edge of Beaufort, North Carolina. Bill spent the majority of his childhood in Carteret County where he enjoyed every aspect of growing up in the maritime environment from clamming to surfing. In 1988, he left the coast to attend Appalachian State University where he earned his undergraduate degree in Anthropology and English. For the next fifteen years he and his wife lived across the state of NC pursuing their educations and occupations. Always in the forefront of Bill's mind was the dream of returning to the Crystal Coast. In 2003, Bill ended his career in the chicken industry (which still fascinates him) to return to the coast where he, his wife and four children now reside. In 2004, Bill became a partner in Fishtowne (which he now owns solely). Raising a family, working and living on the coast, has given him a deep respect and appreciation for the commercial fishing industry and the people and culture it supports.

In addition to processing seafood for Walking Fish, Bill is involved in the fishing community in a number of other ways. Bill has served on the Board of Directors of Carteret Catch, he is the "Retail" representative for the Carteret County Marine Fisheries Advisory Board, and he recently got involved with a newly formed group, the North Carolina Seafood Coalition. His morning ritual involves taking his two eldest children to the community elementary school on Harker's Island where he can catch up with local fishermen to discuss the day's topic whether it be an upcoming hurricane, fishing legislation, or the size of last night's catch. 

Bill prides himself on providing fresh, local, high quality seafood and on making it affordable to the community. Bill believes strongly in the Walking Fish cooperative and has been building relationships in the community for the past seven years.  Bill's vision and livelihood depend on North Carolina's seafood industry being secure, sustainable and appreciated.

 


Paul Russel

 

PAUL RUSSEL - Fisherman

Beaufort, North Carolina

Paul Russell provided the clams for the Walking Fish CSF shares.  Paul has 14.29 acres of bottomland that he manages for clam harvest.  He has three leases, one his father bought in 1961, one he bought in the late nineties, and another he leases from the state.  Paul re-seeds his leases twice a year, which allows him to harvest nearly all year.  Stormwater runoff, created during rain events, can force Paul to close his leases until the water quality returns to a suitable level.  The water near Paul’s leases is sampled by the Shellfish Sanitation and Recreational Water Quality Section after storm events and tested for bacteria.  He has seen the number of shellfish harvest closures increase throughout his career.

If his leases are closed, Paul will harvest wild clams from the shores of Shackleford Banks or other estuarine areas near Beaufort that he knows are productive.  The pictures below were taken in August on one of his harvest trips to Shackleford Banks.  On this trip we collected 200 clams, which is a small harvest.  Knowing where to go to find the clams, especially the right size clams, was Paul’s response when I asked him “What is the hardest thing about being a clammer?”  When I asked him what was the best part about being a clammer, Paul listed being outside and being self-sufficient as reasons. 

You may recognize Paul from the CSF pick-ups, because he is also the driver of the refrigerated truck that delivers our CSF seafood.


Lin Chestnut
 

LIN CHESTNUT - Fisherman

Beaufort, North Carolina

Lin Chestnut grew up in Kinston, North Carolina, but often visited the coast to gig flounder with his dad. Shortly after turning eighteen, ready for a change, Lin moved Down East to work as a fishing guide. On his very first trip, the vessel he worked on took on water and sunk, leaving Lin and another young guide floating between Cape Lookout and the mainland (luckily there were no paying clients on board). It took Lin three hours to find his way to shore in the dark. Despite his unfortunate start, he quickly realized that Core Sound was in his veins. "This is where I want to be," says Lin, looking out across the sound in the golden light of later afternoon.

For the last three years, Lin worked for the Division of Marine Fisheries by day and fished at night (this will be his eighteenth year commercial fishing). His dual perspective – as an employee of the state and a member of the fishing community – gives him an understanding of the complexity of fisheries management. This year, he plans to return to fishing full-time so he can spend more time on the water and with his family.

Lin fishes for jumping mullet, spot, and a few other species, but he spends most of his time gigging flounder. Gigging is unlike other forms of fishing. Fish are caught using a narrow pitchfork-like tool called a gig instead of a net or hook. Gigging is hard work, and it takes focus and good weather, but it is one of the cleanest fisheries you'll find.

Lin's dad doesn't get to the coast to fish with Lin too often anymore, but he calls every night just to check-in and see how the fishing has been.

 

 


Mark Hooper
 

MARK HOOPER- Fisherman

Smyrna, North Carolina

Mark Hooper has fished commercially since 1974. Mark lives in Symrna on Core Sound with his wife, Penny. Together they operate, Hooper Family Seafood. Mark catches hard crabs in the early spring and fall and concentrates on catching peeler crabs and shedding soft crabs from March until early May. Throughout the year, but primarily during the summer, he harvests farm raised clams. Mark works a 1.6 acre lease in front of his house; seed clams are generally planted in the fall of each year. In the past, Mark has channel netted shrimp, gigged and gill netted flounder, caught bay scallops, and grown farm raised oysters. Mark has been actively involved in fishery management issues serving on a variety of stakeholder groups and committees. He is currently serving on the group tasked with revising the Blue Crab Fishery Management Plan.

 

 


Debbie Callaway
 

DEBBIE CALLAWAY- CSF Coordinator / Board of Directors

Beaufort, North Carolina


Debra is a founding Board Member of the Walking Fish Cooperative, playing a pivotal role in the formation and stability of the organization.  A lifelong resident of Carteret County, North Carolina, she has close ties to the commercial fishing industry her entire life.  Debra’s grandfather was a clammer and worked on a menhaden fishing boat. Her husband was a prominent and well-respected seafood business owner for more than 20 years. Debra’s strong ties to the local fishing heritage, organizational skills, and knack for communicating with the cooperative’s growing customer base, makes her a quiet leader. Debra holds an associate degree in Web Technology from a local community college and had always had an interest in arts and crafts. When she is not coordinating deliveries or responding to the CSF members’ many thoughts and questions, she enjoys kayaking, crabbing and fishing on the North River. She is married and has two daughters, three grandchildren and an array of pets. She is in constant pursuit of new seafood recipes for CSF members and her family.


Vince Emory
 

VINCE EMORY - Fisherman

Cedar Island, North Carolina

A fourth generation commercial fisherman, Vince Emory returned to work in the fishing industry after receiving a degree from UNC at Chapel Hill. His father accompanies him on most of his fishing trips in the waters of Cedar Island and Pamlico Sound. Vince provides members with flounder, jumping mullet, sheepshead, and a variety of other species.



Buddy Goodwin
 

BUDDY GOODWIN - Fisherman

Cedar Island, North Carolina

Buddy Goodwin graduated from East Carteret High School in Beaufort and has been fishing ever since. He lives on Cedar Island with his wife and two children. Buddy mainly fishes with pound and gill nets. He also crabs in the unspoiled waters around Cedar Island. In the winter when the fishing slows down, he enjoys duck hunting.


Wells Barker
 

WELLS BARKER - Fisherman

Beaufort, North Carolina


Wells Barker is a retired high school teacher with an infectious laugh and a good sense of humor. He hook-and-line fishes for grouper, triggerfish, and other bottomfish when the weather is good and the federal fisheries are open. He uses a motorized reel that looks easy, but is deceptively tricky to operate – especially when there’s a keeper on the line. Bobbing twenty-five miles off-shore, all sorts of marine life cruises around his boat, including: Wilson’s storm petrels, houndfish, flying fish, Albacore tuna, bottlenose dolphins, tiger sharks, and barracuda.

 

 


Jay and wife, Jennifer
 

JAY STYRON - Fisherman

Cedar Island, North Carolina


Jay Styron, owns a small, family owned oyster farm in Cedar Island, NC (about 30 miles NE of Beaufort). The oysters are grown in suspended cages rather than on the bottom so they are far cleaner than other oysters.

Jay Styron is the assistant director of marine operations at the Center for Marine Science at UNC Wilmington as well as president of the North Carolina Shellfish Growers Association.

 

oysters

 

CHRIS MCCAFFITY- Fisherman

Morehead City, North Carolina

Chris is a commercial fisherman, photographer, and advocate for a responsible harvest of healthy fisheries. Fishing got in his blood at an early age and being on the water blessed him with a chance to photograph many wonderful scenes. The advocate role started a few years ago when he began offering some simple solutions to limit waste in our fisheries. He plans to take pictures during each offshore fishing trip and write brief summaries for Walking Fish members to enjoy. He takes pride in handling all of his fish like his Grandmothers will be eating them and look forward to providing you with access to sustainably harvested local seafood.


Aron Styron Jr. (above) Phillip Styron (right)

 

STYRON FAMILY - Fishermen

Cedar Island, North Carolina

The Styron family has a long history of commercial fishing in Cedar Island, NC.  The family has lived in Cedar Island for hundreds of years and has historically been supported by fishing.  Aron Styron Jr. and his son, Aron Styron III, are the most recent members of the family to fish in the Pamlico Sound.

During the fall, the Styrons fish using pound nets.  Pound netting involves using a long series of nets to guide fish into an enclosure which then directs fish into a net that fishermen pull into their boats to collect the fish.  The Styrons set-up their pound nets in September and fish until the end of November or December. The gear and techniques they use have been passed down through their family and they add new gear and nets when necessary. Pound nets are an efficient method for catching bottom-dwelling fish such as flounder.

The species of fish that the Styrons catch depends on the time of year and weather, but flounder is the most common fish to catch in a pound net.  The Styrons have provided flounder and black drum for the CSF.  Phillip Styron, who is another Cedar Island native, fishes with Aron Jr. and Aron III.  The pictures below were taken while the Styrons were fishing for flounder.

 


Gilbert and Kathy Mathis
 

CAPTAIN GILBERT and KATHY MATHIS - Fishermen

Capt. Gilbert & Kathy Mathis live in Morehead City, where they keep their 30 ft snapper boat, the F/V Atlantic Runner. 

Capt. Gilbert, one of the few USCG licensed captains in the commercial fishing industry, has been in the snapper/grouper fishery for over 30 years.  He has been as professional in his field as they come; very hard working and successful. A real captain with as many stories to tell, as photos of fish to show you.

Kathy Mathis learned the fishing industry from working for other seafood dealers as well as themselves; through accounting work, and public relations.

The past few years have been difficult for the Mathis’.  Troubled with major health problems, strict regulations in the seafood industry, and a depressed economy, Kathy and Gilbert have been forced to downsize including the loss of their seafood facility, Runners Seafood.  Their story, like many other fishing families in the area, personalize the decline of North Carolina’s commercial fishing sector and the loss of a way of life. 

Despite the challenges Capt. Gilbert and Kathy have faced, they are passionate about what they do, and hope to continue in the industry as long as possible.

The CSF is not only an opportunity to make more money for the fish they catch, it is an opportunity to be part of a supportive community that values fresh local seafood and the people who depend on it to support their livelihoods.

 

 

 


 

LARRY KELLUM - Fisherman

Larry grew up in the small fishing hamlet of Marshallberg, NC, located east of Beaufort.  He currently resides in the nearby community of Bettie.  He keeps his boat in the Marshallberg harbor, and works out of that area during the spring and summer months, sometimes making trips to Pamlico Sound to catch shrimp.  In the fall of the year, he runs his boat to McClellanville, SC and works there through the fall months.  During the winter and early spring, he has a shellfish lease in North River where he grows and harvests oysters. He participates in the NC Division of Marine Fisheries' polluted oyster relaying program, where under the guidance of the division he goes to polluted shellfish areas and takes up oysters, moving them to his lease.  The lease remains closed during this time to allow the oysters to "purge" any impurities until the divisions runs tests to determine the oysters are safe for human consumption.

 
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