In San Diego, local seafood is limited to the coast

We are very pleased to share the following guest blog from California Sea Grant on local seafood in San Diego:

Most of the seafood consumed in the United States is imported. Even in California, it is likely that less than ten percent of the seafood consumed is domestic. With our coastal location, why aren’t San Diegans enjoying locally caught seafood?

A new study shows that just eight percent of the city’s 86 seafood markets consistently carried San Diego-sourced seafood. Fourteen percent of markets carried it on occasion. The majority of markets that did carry local seafood were located within a mile and a half of the coast.

“Locally landed San Diego seafood isn’t that accessible to San Diego consumers,” said researcher Nina Venuti. “Few seafood markets in the city sell San Diego-sourced seafood.”

To buy locally-caught fish in San Diego, many shoppers have to visit the Tuna Harbor Dockside Market in downtown. It is one of few seafood markets that consistently carry local catch.

To buy locally-caught fish in San Diego, many shoppers have to visit the Tuna Harbor Dockside Market in downtown. It is one of few seafood markets that consistently carry local catch.

San Diego-based commercial fishermen Luke Halmay and Nathan Perez see the Port of San Diego redevelopment as an opportunity to reevaluate how space is distributed

One of the potential limitations to local seafood access identified by the study was a lack of waterfront workspace, including space for docking boats, maintaining gear, offloading and refrigerating catch, and for selling catch directly to the public. To maintain local seafood systems and the fishing heritage of many waterfront cities, reliable waterfront infrastructure is needed. With the Port of San Diego reviewing plans for a radical redevelopment of Central Embarcadero. San Diegans have an opportunity right now to fulfill this need.

The study also pointed to a lack of urban infrastructure as a potential barrier to establishing and supporting a local seafood system. Unlike agriculture, seafood production is limited to the coast. Therefore, local distributors may play a larger role in increasing community access to local seafood, bridging the gap between the waterfront and the city’s restaurants and markets.

“Urban infrastructure like seafood processing, packaging and transport facilities, as well as markets and restaurants to sell our locally sourced catch are all needed to increase access throughout the city,” said study author Theresa Talley. “This will ensure that more of the fish landed by our fishermen ends up on more of our plates here in San Diego.”

#knowyourfishermen

A version of this post first appeared on the California Sea Grant website

Keep San Diego Seafood Local

On August 24th, stakeholders of San Diego fisheries began meeting with Protea Waterfront Redevelopment about their plans to redevelop the Downtown waterfront. This meeting was important. That the fishing community is meeting at all with the likely developer may affect whether our local and sustainable seafood industry will persist, diminish or flourish in the redevelopment.

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Fukushima and son, San Diego commercial fishing family.

Learn more about good, clean & fair seafood in San Diego.

The Port of San Diego envisions redeveloping the “Central Embarcadero” an area that includes Tuna Harbor, where the majority of San Diego’s active commercial fishermen dock their boats. “Tuna Harbor is central to San Diego’s cultural history as a fishing community,” says Pete Halmay, San Diego sea urchin fisherman. “It was the hub of San Diego fishing for a 100 years and is central to our local industry today.”

Today, San Diegans have little access to locally-caught seafood, even though we are a waterfront city. The U.S. imports over 90% of its seafood and San Diego fishermen are hard pressed to sell their catch locally. The redevelopment represents an opportunity to invest in our local fisheries and reconnect with our local seafood system. It’s up to the San Diego to commit to this.

Want to help? Write a letter to the Port of San Diego in support of local commercial fisheries and sustainable seafood. Go here.  

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Jordyn, holding 2 San Diego species, red sea urchin and red crab, is from a San Diego fishing family.

While it is still early in the planning process, it is important that we let the Port (and City and County) know now that San Diego wants to support a thriving commercial fishing industry by keeping Tuna Harbor solely as a working fishing harbor. One of the early draft alternatives presented by Protea for Tuna Harbor shows a mixed use harbor, combining fishing with another yacht club. This would reduce the number of slips and total space allocated to fishermen, and create unsafe conditions with little room to maneuver boats and allow for daily boat traffic. Plus, “Creating a mixed-use marina conflicts with the Port Master Plan which delineated this area, among others to commercial fisheries,” says Halmay. The preliminary plan also reduces the size of the on-site processor and sets it back from the water behind retail stores and a taco shop. “Santa Monica Seafood provides vital services to the fishermen: ice, loading dock, crane, etc. We need these things to operate and keep our seafood fresh.” While this plan is only one of several draft alternatives, it reveals the extent to which commercial fishing could again be reduced in San Diego. Setting commercial fishing as a priority in San Diego needs to happen now.
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Local red sea urchin, or uni, a delicacy harvested in local waters.

At the 2nd meeting in September, facilitated by Dr. Theresa Talley of SeaGrant California, stakeholders chose Mike Conroy, of the American Albacore Fishing Association, to Chair future meetings. They also presented their vision of Tuna Harbor, which is a single use harbor for commercial fishing vessels only, including necessary infrastructure like cranes, squid pump, freezer and net mending space plus, signage illustrating San Diego’s fishing history and present, and an open-air fishermen’s market. The vision maintains Santa Monica Seafood and their infrastructure, as well. All intended to support the current and likely future local fishery.

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Sketch of fishermen’s vision for redeveloped Tuna Harbor

Click here for larger version of fishermen’s sketch.

San Diego needs fishermen to harvest our seafood. It’s not much further for us to get to importing 100% of our seafood. The redevelopment of the Central Embarcadero represents an opportunity for San Diego to invest in its fisheries, in its local seafood system, in community. We can make room for more yachts and chain restaurants or we can invest in Good, Clean & Fair Seafood for All. The success of Tuna Harbor Dockside Market, the popularity of restaurants serving local seafood, and the move to eat locally, all point to the potential of our local fisheries.

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More than 40 species of rockfish live off our coast.

Maintaining and improving the fishing infrastructure at Tuna Harbor will keep locally-caught sustainable seafood in San Diego. Keep San Diego Local. Support your local fishermen, and fresh, tasty local seafood.

Watch this video to learn more about the value of San Diego commercial fisheries.

Want to help? Write a letter to the Port of San Diego in support of local commercial fisheries and sustainable seafood. Go here.  

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This man wants you to eat local crab.

Snooze: Celebrate Bacon Day and Support Slow Food

Did you know Saturday September 3rd is International Bacon Day?  Slow Food USA is celebrating the holiday this year with Snooze an A.M. Eatery.  Snooze is throwing a Bacon Day event and donating 10% of their sales Saturday from all of their locations to Slow Food!

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Snooze is a Denver based breakfast restaurant with locations in Colorado, Arizona and California with two locations in San Diego County – one in Hillcrest and one in Del Mar. Snooze operates under values very similar to Slow Food’s Good, Clean and Fair Food For All that they express through their menu, their sourcing practices and their involvement in their communities.

The Snooze menu includes breakfast classics with a twist (e.g., Breakfast Pot Pie, Caprese Benedict, Sweet Potato Pancakes) and they go out of their way to find and create foods that are the intersection of tasty and responsible.  We spoke with their sourcing lead, Spencer Lomax about their approach to souring their food to be Good Clean and Fair.  He says that the bottom line is that they want to serve their guests responsibly sourced and tasty food fulfilling their responsibility to the land, to their customers, to their communities and to Snooze.  They live up to that responsibility by providing real, tasty food that was produced sustainably and locally when it makes sense and by engaging with their local communities.  In San Diego they source from several local companies including Bread & Cie and Jackie’s Jams.  They support several local non-profits ARTS (A Reason to Survive)Bike To WorkMama’s KitchenDining out for LifeHelen Woodward Animal ShelterDel Mar Education School Foundation and the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy.

In honor of Bacon Day Lomax talked specifically about his search for bacon that was both delicious and lived up to the Snooze standards.  Snooze sources their pork from Tender Belly.  Tender Belly is devoted to the well being of the animal through both the environment in which they live and the all natural, vegetarian diets they are fed. As a part of their Bacon Day celebration you can not only enjoy a full special menu full of Tender Belly bacon items you can register to win bacon for a year from Tender Belly.

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Come by one of the Snooze San Diego locations on Saturday to enjoy the awesome bacon menu, visit with our Slow Food Urban San Diego team, and support Slow Food!