New Jersey fishermen to donate excess catch to NJ food bank

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A new partnership between New Jersey fishermen and a local food bank will mean that some of New Jersey’s hungry residents will have plenty to eat.

For decades, a large portion of the fish caught by commercial fishermen in the United States has gone to waste. It's called bycatch: species that can't be sold or are less desirable and will typically be thrown overboard or simply thrown out.

“We've seen the waste take place, we've just never been able to do address it,” says Brick Wenzel with America’s Gleaned Seafood.

But a new program launched in New Jersey Friday means that some of this wasted fish will be donated to Fulfill, the food bank of Monmouth and Ocean counties.

“That fish gets turned over to the people in Monmouth and Ocean counties who need it the most. And there are a lot of them,” says former Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, the CEO of Fulfill.

It's called gleaning - taking extra produce produced by farms and donating it to the hungry. And now the concept will be applied to the ocean. It is believed to be the first such program in the country.

The bycatch from three New Jersey fishing boats will be placed in bins, brought ashore and processed by Trinity Seafood. The fish is then donated to Fulfill.

Chef Warren Schueler from the Soup Kitchen of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Keansburg says that he has already cooked a batch of the cownose ray filets given to him.

“I saw it and I said I'm going to make a [fish stew] with it. And that’s what I did. And it kind of got disguised to the clients, because they were like, ‘Oh, fish? What kind of fish? And I never told them. It just went out and it was beautiful and they loved it,” the chef says.

The effort is completely volunteer with the boat captains, Trinity Seafood and everyone else donating their time and resources to the effort.

The program organizers say that they hope that this program can be expanded in New Jersey and across the country.

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