Working for Good, Clean, Fair Food for All - Slow Food Urban San Diego Convivium of Slow Food International


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

Slow Fish 2016 – Building a Better Seafood System

by Sarah M. Shoffler, SFUSD Seafood Liaison

In March 2016, over 200 fishermen, fishmongers, chefs, scholars, activists, students and community leaders gathered in New Orleans for four days of stories, food, art and music. Slow Fish 2016 was glorious. We shared our successes and our challenges in striving for good, clean & fair seafood for all. Sarah tells us more about this event and how San Diegans can apply good, clean & fair values to our seafood consumption. 

“The world’s fisheries are in trouble. 70% are either exploited, overexploited or have already collapsed” is what media tells us. This leaves the impression that we manage our fisheries so poorly that we’ll soon empty the oceans of seafood. Not so.

IMG_0099 copy

Slow Fish 2016 attendees at the Seafood Boil and Boucherie on Docville Farm, where Slow Fish met Slow Meat. Industrial agriculture is significantly affecting Louisiana wetlands, which are critical to healthy fish populations. Photo: E. Buchanan

In the U.S. at least, our fishermen are among the most stringently managed. If they catch too many fish or harm protected populations (e.g. dolphins or endangered turtles), we have to do something – shut down the fishery, or change fishing gear, season, location, etc. The number of fish populations overfished in the U.S. is decreasing, not increasing.

Here’s a more thorough treatment of the issue that explains why the doom-and-gloom narrative is wrong and destructive.

IMG_0031

Tuna canning demonstration at Slow Fish 2016. Photo: E. Buchanan

What can we do? How can we wade through the misinformation and support a healthy seafood system? Enter Slow Fish, a grassroots international campaign to promote good, clean & fair seafood. We do this while bringing joy to the efforts to restore marine ecosystems and support fishing communities. That’s a deep order, so how do we do it?

IMG_9028

UCSD student volunteer Catherine welcomes us to Slow Fish 2016. Photo: E. Buchanan

In March 2016, over 200 fishermen, fishmongers, chefs, scholars, activists, students and community leaders gathered in New Orleans for four days of stories, food, art and music. Slow Fish 2016 was glorious. We shared our successes and our challenges in striving for good, clean & fair seafood for all.

166029_479818718885481_4086404651207387289_n

Boiled Lousiana crawfish. Photo: S. Shoffler

Local attendees included:
Sea urchin fisherman and community leader, Peter Halmay, who shared how a fishermen’s market in San Diego was created;
Chef Drew Deckman of Deckman’s en el Mogor, a Slow Fish advocate who cooked and shucked his weight in oysters for us;
Scripps Institution of Oceanography student volunteers: Flora Drury, Kate Masury and Catherine Courtier, who’s masters projects focus on fishermen’s markets, value chains and sustainable seafood;
SFUSD member, Eric Buchanan, who volunteered as official event photographer;
SFUSD’s vice chair and seafood liaison Sarah Shoffler, who was on the event planning team with partners from across the U.S. plus Canada and Italy.

Performers of "Cry You One," opening Slow Fish 2016 with the story of Louisiana's disappearing wetlands, so critical to fisheries. Photo: E. Buchanan

Performers of “Cry You One,” opening Slow Fish 2016 with the story of Louisiana’s disappearing wetlands, so critical to fisheries. Photo: E. Buchanan

I met family fishermen from Florida to Alaska, who continuously adapt their practices to changing management and ecosystems. They fish in small boats. Or large. They use the most up to date gear with turtle excluder devices and pingers (to avoid dolphins). They fish weirs, fishing gear whose origin dates back to before the emergence of modern humans. They are young – I met a 20 year old woman named Erica from Nova Scotia, who fishes weirs with her father. They are not so young – San Diegan sea urchin diver Pete Halmay joined us and shared his story of starting San Diego’s first fishermen’s market – where fishermen sell their catch directly to the public.

Pete Halmay, San Diego sea urchin diver, at the Slow Fish 2016 day 3 venue – a food museum. Photo: E Buchanan

These people love the ocean and what it brings us.

Fishmongers from Moss Landing shared how they started a community supported fishery (CSF) and a “Bay-to-Tray” program where they provide bycatch from the black cod fishery to school lunch programs –animals that would otherwise be wasted. Another fisherman shared his story of building a business where he takes people fishing on San Francisco Bay and teaching them to cook what they eat. We heard so many big and small ways of supporting a healthy food system, one based on good, clean & fair seafood for all.

Slow Food Urban San Diego member, CHef Drew Deckman and Louisiana fishermen, Lance Nacio shucking oysters -- Baja Kumiai and Louisiana. Photo: S. Shoffler

Slow Food Urban San Diego member, Chef Drew Deckman and Louisiana fishermen, Lance Nacio shucking oysters — Baja Kumiai and Louisiana. Photo: S. Shoffler

I was buoyed to learn that efforts in San Diego to support our small-scale fisheries are seen as successes elsewhere. And that by supporting local fishermen with my business, I invest in families and the local economy as well as give hope to folks who are so often portrayed as the enemy to our marine ecosystem, when in fact they offer many of the solutions to sustain it.

SFUSD Slow Fish Plans

(1) Now: Connect local chefs directly to local fishermen – this is the best way to get the freshest most sustainable seafood on our restaurant plates. If any chefs would like to meet our local seafood producers, please get in touch.

(2) Soon: Collaborate with local chefs, fishermen, fishmongers and others to bring you Seafood Saturdays – a campaign to promote local US-caught seafood in San Diego and to teach San Diegans how to prepare, cook and enjoy the local bounty. Check us out at the Tuna Harbor pier starting April 16th.

(3) Future: Research barriers to keeping local seafood local. Why is the local catch sent outside the City, County and Country? How can we keep it here? Why should we?

(4) Future: Keep our waterfront a working waterfront. How can we maintain our cultural heritage as a fishing community? How can we revive it? How do we keep the harvest of this healthy and delicious resource in our community?

What’s a seafood lover to do?

IMG_8884

Slow Fish 2016 opening reception at the Mardi Gras Krewe du Vieux club house. Photo: E. Buchanan

IMG_9317 copy

Young fishermen, Amanda and Spencer, sharing their story of bringing seafood to youth. Photo: E. Buchanan

Slow Fish 2016 fisherman and young winner of the rock, paper, scissors contest being lead by Slow Fish USA leader, Kevin.

Young Alaskan fisherman lead by Slow Fish USA leader, Kevin Scribner.

Baja Kumiai oysters. Photo: S. Shoffler

Baja Kumiai oysters shucked by Drew Deckman. Photo: S. Shoffler

Slow Fish 2016 attendees listening raptly to a discussion of fishery policy in one of our ever-changing venues. Photo: E. Buchanan

Slow Fish 2016 attendees listening raptly to a discussion of fishery policy in one of our ever-changing venues. Photo: E. Buchanan

Slow Food members from Austin, San Diego and New Orleans talking fish. Photo: M Lothrop

Slow Food volunteers from Austin, San Diego and New Orleans talking fish. Photo: M Lothrop

Fisherman Lance Nacio's Loisiana shrimp. Photo: E. Buchanan

Fisherman Lance Nacio’s Loisiana shrimp. Photo: E. Buchanan

Slow Sips March 5th @Tiger!Tiger!

Slow-Sips-March-2016

Join us for our first Slow Sips of the year. Meet our board and learn what’s up for 2016 in the Good, Clean & Fair Food for All world. Plus, meet the folks behind the meat at Tiger!Tiger! and their friendly bakers.

But wait, there’s more! Light snacks provided and SFUSD members get 10% off food and drinks. RAWR, indeed!

Slow Sips are networking and community-building events put on by Slow Food chapters. It’s one of the ways we celebrate food as a cornerstone of community.

Join the Facebook event.