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Ocean bottom-dweller helps battle food insecurity this Christmas – Press Herald

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Maine Coast Fisherman's Association donates 150 servings of locally sourced monkfish stew to Brunswick soup kitchen.
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Steph Sykes shows off a monkfish she caught off Cape Cod. The Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association is promoting monkfish as an underappreciated fish species, encouraging people to eat more of the mildly flavored and abundant fish. Photo contributed by Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association
On Christmas Eve, Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program in Brunswick will treat guests to a bowl of monkfish stew, donated by the Maine Coast Fisherman’s Association.
The cream-based stew, featuring locally sourced fish, potatoes, carrots and subtle spices, is produced by Hurricane’s Premium Soups & Chowders of Greene.
“We love to serve something that is locally sourced and created,” said Mid Coast Hunger Prevention volunteer Heather Arvidson.
Not known for its good looks, the sweet-tasting bottom-dweller known as monkfish was popular 20 years ago, but production slowed in 1999 due to fear of overfishing.
“There were concerns about the stock in the late ’90s, but good management has brought that fishery back to sustainable levels,” said MCFA Executive Director Ben Martens.
Maine Monkfish Stew, served with cheese toasts. Guenola Lefeuvre photo
Monkfish is an accidental food source, caught in the nets of fishermen while searching for other groundfish like haddock, cod and flounder, according to Martens. He said the fish is mild and sweet, with a consistency akin to lobster, making it perfect for stews.

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Expecting to serve 115 guests this year, Arvidson said they will have 150 servings of monkfish stew ready to go.
This is the second year the MCFA has donated the succulent stew as part of its Fishermen Feeding Mainers program that launched in the fall of 2020. Every year, they buy seafood directly from local fishermen and donate it to schools, food banks and community groups throughout the state.
This year, the program has donated over 650,000 meals, according to a news release.
“Most of the time, the fish landed in Maine ends up someplace else — New York, Chicago or Boston — and it is really important to remember that seafood is part of our local food system,” Martens said. “This program allows us to directly connect our fishermen and our ocean food production with our communities and schools and reintroduce seafood into our diet.”
Last year, Maine fishermen caught 1,022,967 pounds of monkfish, a 36% increase from 2020, according to Maine’s Department of Marine Resources.
“Monkfish is a good source of protein; is low in sodium; and provides vitamins B6, B12, potassium, phosphorus and selenium — all things we need to stay happy and healthy,” Martens said.
Located at 12 Tenney Way in Brunswick, MCHPP will be serving stew from noon to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 24.
Christmas Day to-go meals will also be available from 11 a.m. to noon Sunday.
For more information, visit mchpp.org.
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