The Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby will partner with Island Grown Initiative to distribute fresh fish for seniors, community meals and Islanders in need, leaders at both organizations said.

The new partnership came about after the derby’s volunteer filet program that sends fresh fish to Vineyard senior centers became maxed out. As the monthlong derby hit the halfway point, more than 6,000 pounds of fish have crossed the scales; much of that fish is donated from fishermen who catch more than they can keep.

“We’ve been having a really successful derby in terms of the amount of fish that have been caught, a lot of bluefish and a lot of bonito,” said Chris Scott, derby treasurer.

Now with senior centers full, Rebecca Haag, executive director of IGI, said the surplus fish will be distributed through the Island Food Equity Network.

The Vineyard Food Pantry, the Good Shepherd Parish, Serving Hands, and Island churches that provide community suppers and public health nurses and social workers will all be involved in the food distribution.

“We are the sort of middle man here . . . and we’ll distribute to as many as 15 or 20 different partners. We call around and figure out who needs it when,” Ms. Haag said.

The first pickup and delivery of fish took place last week, with 50 pounds of iced filets donated to the Tisbury, West Tisbury and Edgartown schools. Ms. Haag said IGI is also working at the Camp Jabberwocky kitchen to develop different recipes for fish chowders, soups and stews.

The distribution of fresh fish comes at a critical time for the Island during the pandemic, Ms. Haag said. “People in the spring have seen a threefold demand for food from families on the Island. We’re anticipating this fall and winter is going to be very difficult for many of our families,” she said.

She said the program is similar to the venison donation program that IGI helps coordinate with Island hunters. That program also begins this week with the start of bow hunting season.

“I can’t thank the members of the derby and all the fishermen out there enough because so many families are living on the edge on Martha’s Vineyard. This will really be an important source of protein for these families. We want to make sure our neighbors have access to good, healthy food,” Ms. Haag said.

Derby chairman Joe El-Deiry concurred. “Anything the derby can do to help out with feeding the island community I think is phenomenal, that’s what the whole derby is all about,” he said.