Featured image credit: Nicole Wolf
Welcome to my very first blog post.
Future posts will focus on scallop fishery stories, facts and recipes, but since this is my first post, and since ten years in business is a milestone worthy of contemplation, I thought I'd offer a more personal reflection on the past ten scallop seasons.
When I founded Maine Dayboat Scallops/Downeast Dayboat in 2011, my passion for Maine's scallop fishery was already well established. I'd led the charge to reinvent scallop management in Maine and had helped to develop and protect the Northern Gulf of Maine Scallop Management Area in Federal waters. And I'd come to realize just how different these two tiny fisheries are from the much larger Federal trip boat fishery. In fact their operations are so different they essentially produce an entirely different product. But for decades Mainers had been trucking this unique premium product out of state to be mixed in with mundane scallops from trip boats. That meant Maine fishermen were being paid a commodity price for a premium product and consumers were being denied the exquisite opportunity of tasting truly fresh, pure scallops.
So that's why I started Maine Dayboat Scallops, Inc.
Back in 2011 most people had never heard of a "dayboat", which is a boat that leaves and returns to shore on the same day, unlike trip boats that can be at sea for a week or more at a time. The difference in taste and texture between a Maine Dayboat Scallop and a basic "dry" trip boat scallop is remarkable. I'm happy folks are beginning to appreciate dayboat seafood: Taste the difference a day makes®!, although when other dealers began branding their product "Maine Dayboat Scallops", which couldn't be trademarked, I had to change my name to Downeast Dayboat®.
I love showing people what scallops are supposed to taste like. And because I love what I do, it seems like I started this business only yesterday. But I know that's not the case: a lot has changed in the past ten scallop seasons. For one thing, I now have a thermal label printer so my mother no longer has to hand write the captain's name, harvest date and area on all the labels. But this is just one small way my family helped support my business. My parents and brother have all sorted and bagged scallops, packed boxes and driven Downeast to get product. In addition my brother Jason created my first logo and social media assets. But in August of 2015 Jason died of a heart arrhythmia while swimming off Maine's coast. He was 46. Two years later my father (my idol!) suffered a fatal heart arrhythmia while jogging along his favorite fishing pond. The sun has lost some of its brilliance for me and my mother.
But death is part of life, and since I couldn't continue the Brawn family in the traditional way, I adopted Waylon in 2018. Oh what love! Waylon has brought great joy to me and my mother, as well as to my boyfriend Richard. Life goes on.
My father had two favorite sayings. One was "Sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats you." The bear has eaten well, but I certainly haven't gone hungry. My father's second saying, and the one that really defined him, was "You're not here for a long time: you're here for a good time." I try to live by both these sayings. I haven't made traditional choices: I doubt many of my fellow Duke graduates chose to work at a waterfront bar for over 25 years, but bartending at J's Oyster gave me the flexibility and steady income I needed to keep Downeast Dayboat (and previous ventures) going. After getting a graduate degree in marine policy, I could have found financial success working for a well-funded corporate fishery. But it wouldn't have been nearly as fulfilling as working pro-bono for Maine's small boat fishermen as they fought to protect their rights in the Northern Gulf of Maine Scallop Fishery.
Showing people what scallops are supposed to taste like is just one way I work toward my ultimate goal, which is to ensure a sustainable, profitable future for Maine fishermen. I'm honored to serve on the Board of Directors at the Maine Fishermen's Forum (sadly, remote again this year), to be the Chair of Maine's Marine Resources Advisory Council and to serve on the New England Fishery Management Council.
When I was growing up, my parents told me money was not what I should prioritize when choosing a profession. Sometimes I think I subconsciously took that as a command to avoid any career moves that might yield wealth (mission accomplished!). Back in college I certainly wouldn't have predicted where I'd be today. But I'm so glad I'm here, and I'm looking forward to what's ahead.
I love selling the world's best scallops. I love corresponding with my customers (I'm getting to know some of you pretty well) and I particularly love helping build a brighter future for Maine fishermen.
So thanks to all of you who've helped me get here. And thanks for reading my first blog post. Here's to 10 more seasons of Downeast Dayboat.
PS: Screw you bear!
My parents working at a scallop sampling event in 2013
My brother and me at an Edible Manhattan event in 2015
A family boxing event
My mother and me at the New Amsterdam Market in 2013
And here are my newest family members. Don't worry: only one of them helps pack scallops.
You're not here for a long time - you're here for a good time :)