A new partnership between Virginia Sea Grant and the College of William and Mary- including the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Mason School of Business and Marshall-Wythe School of Law - is exploring whether a community-supported fishery is a feasible means to help promote greater consumption of locally harvested fish and shellfish.

The concept is based on the model of community-supported agriculture, which provide subscribers with shares of produce and other products from local farms.

The first part of the feasibility study - telephone and in-person interviews with W&M students, faculty and staff - wrapped up in late February. The goal was to assess the respondents' current seafood choices, knowledge of sustainability issues, local-seafood preferences and willingness to pay for local fishery products.

The next step in the project builds on the interview findings with an online survey that will expand the study into the local community and provide more quantitative results.

If the findings of the online survey confirm the positive comments from the interviews, the project team will move on to create a detailed business plan that identifies how to best proceed in terms of staffing, storage, transport, finances, legal arrangements and other factors.

The team will incorporate lessons learned from a small but growing number of community-supported fisheries at other campuses around the nation, including Duke University and the University of California - Santa Barbara. They will also work closely with

LocalCatch.org, a national network of fishermen, organizers and consumers committed to the growth of CSFs.

To participate in the online survey, visit http://tinyurl.com/88pybhc before the end of April.