Fifteen minutes before the makeshift market would open, the line on the narrow dock in Tuna Harbor was jammed. Forget any ideas of maintaining personal space. It’s a regular Saturday morning crush for live rock crabs and sea urchins, trap-caught sablefish, bright-eyed red vermillion rockfish and tasty California halibut.
Zack Roach and Luke Halmay work with 10 other commercial fishermen to sell seasonal, locally-caught seafood off Roach’s father’s boat docked in the harbor — a rock’s skip away from the U.S.S. Midway Museum. Using traps, nets, diving or hook and line, San Diego’s commercial fishermen can bring in 28 different species throughout the year. But what these fishermen don’t have is a fresh seafood market of their own.
It isn’t for lack of trying.
They formed Tuna Harbor Dockside Market LLC last June, but since then, approval to move those seafood sales off the boat and onto land has been, well, skunked.
Roach and Peter Halmay, Luke’s father and president of the San Diego Fishermen’s Working Group, started treading water last year when they met with the County Department of Environmental Health, the agency tasked with ensuring food operators comply with public health and safety rules. Officials there sent them to the Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures, saying they needed to apply for a farmer’s market permit. There was just one problem with that: They’re not farmers.
“They don’t consider a fish market a farmer’s market, and a farmer’s market is one of the only things you can get permitted to have on a regular basis,” Roach said. “A temporary permit would only allow us to sell four times a year.” Not an ideal scenario for someone trying to establish a thriving market.
Support Independent Journalism Today
Anyone else struck the byzantine and costly government regulation? There's no shortage of govt organizations lined up to whack people who want to do business. Govt permission is required to do just about anything today. It's very counter-productive.
@MEBurks You did a good job on that story!
Folks are going to drive there for fish? Mostly tourists/convention people hangout in that area. How about the traffic & parking situation? Most of the parking is metered or part of ACE parking enterprises.
There's a number of us who live downtown and walk to the boat (Fish Addiction, middle dock) on Saturdays for fresh fish at great prices from Zach. It's also a very short walk from the Seaport Village trolley stop if you use public transit. And parking at the G St Mole isn't bad in the early morning before the restaurants open. But get there early as the best stuff goes fast.
Poppa's Fresh Fish has been selling fresh local seafood at local farmers markets for years now (even fresh sea urchin) http://www.poppasfreshfish.com/
Didn't know turban snails were edible, wonder what's the best way to prepare them. I find them at IB all the time (but probably don't wanna eat those).