Duke graduate students who organized Walking Fish—the region’s first community-supported fishery—distributed their first delivery of fresh seafood to Durham-area shareholders Thursday.

The first shipment, roughly 500 pounds of southern flounder from the Pamlico and Core Sounds, was available for pick up from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Sarah P. Duke Gardens parking lot on Anderson Street.

Duke Fish, the University’s graduate student chapter of the American Fisheries Society, partnered with Carteret County fishermen to launch Walking Fish. The 12-week pilot program allows consumers to pre-order shares of locally caught fish, which can be picked up on a weekly or bi-weekly basis each Thursday.  

Joshua Stoll, a second-year graduate student in the Nicholas School of the Environment who organized Walking Fish, said the project surpassed his original expectations. Walking Fish had hoped to sell 250 shares, but ended up selling 400. There are more than 100 people on the waiting list for next season and people are still signing up, Stoll added. By the end of the 12-week pilot project, Stoll estimates that Walking Fish will distribute more than 6,000 pounds of fresh seafood to area shareholders.

“People want local seafood,” he said.  “People are interested in supporting local economies and knowing where their food comes from. People are interested in making an investment in community. We hope that this is a step towards that.”

Most of the money raised from the project goes to the Carteret County fishermen and the fish processors. The rest of the money goes toward educational events like cooking demonstrations and lectures.

“Part of what we are doing here is trying to create a dialogue about what a fishery is, about what conservation means, about what sustainablility means,” he said, adding that there is an online member’s forum where shareholders are encouraged to exchange ideas, feedback and cooking tips.

Stoll hopes the Walking Fish CSF will facilitate similar projects in other communities. Additionally, Stoll said he plans to expand the Duke Walking Fish project to include a winter and spring season.

“I love North Carolina coast and North Carolina seafood,” said shareholder Mary Warren. “I am just really excited to have the opportunity for fresh seafood.”