SATURDAY FISHERMEN’S MARKET SPRINGS TO LIFE
Source: The Chamber of the Santa Barbara Region
A recent grassroots effort has reinvigorated a longstanding Santa Barbara tradition on the brink of vanishing – the Saturday Fishermen’s Market on the City Pier in the harbor. The market is one of only a handful of surviving fishermen’s markets along the West Coast of the U.S. “This is a unique market - one of the few ways for the public to talk with fishermen, hear about life on the water, learn cooking tips and access the freshest local seafood available” said Paul Teall, a fisherman and vendor at the market. A ribbon cutting ceremony will take place at the market Saturday, October 7th at 9am to celebrate the launch of a new fish-filleting booth at the market. “We hope the convenience of this service will help more folks get in the weekly habit of buying their seafood here and make local seafood a staple of their diet,” said Chris Voss, and a lobster fishermen who volunteered to assemble the fillet booth over the summer and the President of Commercial Fishermen of Santa Barbara, Inc., a non-profit supporting our fishing community.
The Saturday Fishermen’s Market has operated for over 40 years, every week, rain or shine, on the City Pier in Santa Barbara Harbor. The market hasn’t been widely advertised and is easy to miss, making it somewhat of an unintentionally-hidden gem. The size of the Saturday Market has waxed and waned over the years. At one point, the fishermen operated a full-service fish market in the corner retail space where the sushi restaurant is now. A recent downswing in market participation put it at risk of folding. In response, the fishing community collaborated with the Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce through a program called FishSB, an initiative to support our working waterfront and local seafood marketing. Director of FishSB, UCSB marine scientist Kim Selkoe, secured a grant for market improvements from the South Bay Cable/Fisheries Liaison Committee, a mitigation fund to offset impacts of fiber optic cables laid in fishing grounds. The Waterfront Department and the County Health Environmental Health Services navigated new territory in approving the changes. In fact, guidance to formally recognize and regulate Fishermen’s Markets was lacking until the State’s ‘Pacific-to-Plate’ law was initiated by California’s Sea Grant Program and passed in 2014.
“The Saturday Fishermen’s Market is an authentic link to Santa Barbara’s roots as a fishing village, a fun destination, and the perfect way to support both a healthy diet and sustainable, local fisheries in one go,” said Kim Selkoe, who is director of FishSB and a marine scientist affiliated with UCSB, “plus, Paul Teall will teach you how to tie a lightning fast bowline knot!” Coolers are provided at the fillet station for those who want to stash their fish while they walk the breakwater or visit the Maritime Museum, which now opens at 9am on Saturdays.
Currently, 5 vendors participate in the market, offering old favorites like rock crab, rockfish, ling cod, black cod, halibut, sole and mackerel. Cultured Abalone Farm, based in Ellwood Canyon, also sells live abalone and ogo seaweed, perfect for salad and poke dishes. Ron Evon will crack open his finest urchin so you can start your day with an uni shooter. Other delicacies to be discovered at the market include grenadier, sea cucumber, marine snails, octopus, shark and kelp, which is apparently a great stand in for your kale chip recipe. Some of the seafood is live, and all is incredibly fresh and sold at unbeatable prices. Because the seafood is so fresh, it will last in your fridge longer than store-bought seafood and can be frozen for later without loss of quality.
“Santa Barbara’s working waterfront is an important part of our community, and the Saturday Fishermen’s Market is the best way to experience it,” said Ken Oplinger, President/CEO of the Chamber of the Santa Barbara Region. “The ability to get the freshest seafood while meeting your neighbor who caught it is a wonderful opportunity few others have.”
To attend the ribbon cutting reception on Oct. 7th, RSVP to Stephanie@sbchamber.org. Visit www.cfsb.info/sat and follow the market on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter at @cfsb.info to find out more about the market, get recipes and pre-order seafood for pick up on Saturday.