Keep San Diego Seafood Local

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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. 14224771_1372011392828140_5510957861613431655_n

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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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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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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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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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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