San Luis Obispo County residents could be getting a new place to buy fresh-caught fish—directly from the hands that did the catching.
At a meeting on April 28, the Port San Luis Harbor Commission voted 4-1 to allow the implementation of a fishermen's market pilot program on Harford Pier, inside the building soon to be vacated by the Olde Port Fish and Seafood Company.
The program, according to Harbor Manager Andrea Lueker, would give the Central Coast's commercial fisherman an opportunity to sell directly to customers in a new way, while also offering a chance to find out if a more permanent market could be possible.
- File Photo By Jayson Mellom
- A DIRECT TRANSACTION At a meeting on April 28, the Port San Luis Harbor Commission voted to allow the implementation of a fishermen's market pilot program on Harford Pier.
"I've talked to a few of our fishermen that seem to be interested," Lueker said at the meeting. "There is certainly a great opportunity for fish markets and fishermen's markets to work cooperatively together to provide a variety of seafood."
The pilot program would allow Central Coast fishermen to operate a market similar to those run in other ports in California, including one that opens every Saturday in Santa Barbara. While commercial fishermen are already allowed to sell fish directly from their boats in the Port San Luis Harbor District, Harford Pier is unusually tall, according to a staff report, making it particularly difficult for fishermen to conduct efficient transactions.
With the Olde Port Fish and Seafood Company's plans to move from its current location to another on the pier sometime this spring or early summer, district staff say, once vacated, the building could provide the kind of space necessary to test run a fishermen's market.
Although harbor commissioners were generally supportive of the project, there were some concerns over whether the Olde Port Fish and Seafood Company facility could truly support a fishermen's market and what it would take to meet the stringent health and food safety standards required at such events.
Harbor Commissioner Mary Matakovich, the only commissioner to vote against the pilot program, said she didn't see how the project could get up and running before July, with the state's stay-at-home order in place and the Olde Port Fish and Seafood Company's undecided moving plans. And considering all the upcoming construction plans for the Harford Pier, Matakovich said she'd rather come up with a way to better help fishermen sell directly from their boats, and sooner rather than later.
Vice President Jim Blecha disagreed, and said he'd like to at least give commercial fishermen a shot at making a market work.
"I'd like to see what our local guys could come with given these guidelines," Blecha said. "I'm two thumbs up on this thing." Δ