If you’re looking to support the local fishing community, now there’s a way to do that and enjoy local sustainable fish.
Local Catch Monterey Bay is a Community Supported Fishery (CSF) that sells fresh seafood from local fishermen in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties on a weekly basis.
“A lot of these species aren’t even defined out there,” said community coordinator and manager Oren Frey. “People are preparing things that they’ve never prepared before, that they didn’t know how to prepare or didn’t have access to before.”
Customer Amy Williams of Carmel wrote in a testimonial, "I feel far more educated and confident about local seafood–about what's available, what's involved in catching it, how to prepare much of it–compared to before we joined."
Customers don’t get to choose what species they are going to get because it’s all about what’s local and what’s in season, said Frey.
“It’s a surprise,” he said.
Since program manager Alan Lovewell and Frey opened Local Catch Jan. 17, 2012 their customer base has grown from 140 to 300 customers.
Frey said that customers are being exposed to the freshest fish that they have ever tasted and such a variety. People have said that they’re never going back to buying fish from the grocery store again because it doesn’t compare, said Frey.
After having tried salmon delivered by Local Catch, “People are saying I’ve never actually had salmon before,” Frey said.
Lovewell and Frey created the concept for Local Catch as a graduate school project while studying at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.
In the last year, they interned as California Sea Grant Fellows where they finalized the logistics for their company. Lovewell served at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center and Frey at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
“We got to put the pieces together and figure out how to turn it from theoretical to applicable,” Frey said.
To put their plan into action, the missing link was the fishermen to provide the fish. One Santa Cruz fisherman that Frey met with connected him to Greg Young, owner of .
“We didn’t find anyone who had the enthusiasm or passion to dive into the endeavor like Greg,” Frey said.
Young already worked with Santa Cruz fishermen to source seafood for his restaurant, so those connections were already established. Young is in charge of sourcing the various fishermen and filleting the fish at his restaurant.
“We hope the fishermen can see the benefit for them. That they’re getting a better price and knowing who their customers are,” Frey said.
To improve customer and fishermen interactions, Local Catch surveys members on a weekly basis to allow customers to ask fishermen questions and for fishermen to share stories with customers.
In the weekly newsletter, customers receive recipes for preparing their fish and a fisherman is profiled to put a name and face to the man who provides the fish.
The fishermen are loyal to their customers, Frey said. Unlike other grocery stores and markets, Local Catch has a predictable demand, which is advantageous for fishermen because they know how much fish to catch.
In the future, Frey said he hopes the fishermen start to collaborate with each other to plan who will catch a certain species of fish each week so that there isn’t an excess amount of one type.
“We’d like the fishermen to start to feel invested in the program,” he said.
By distributing seafood locally, they are addressing the problem of global climate change while supporting the local fishing community.
Over 80 percent of the seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported from another country, according to the Local Catch website.
When signing up, customers choose among size, form, pickup location and payment frequency options.
- Size: Small share feeds 2-3 people and costs $20 per week; Family share feeds 4-6 people and costs $36 per week.
- Form: Whole fish or fillet.
- Location: Many pickup sites around Santa Cruz County
- Payment frequency options: Every 4, 8 or 12 weeks
After selecting their preferences, customers pick up their fish every Tuesday from their selected location.
To find out more about Local Catch Monterey Bay, visit their website or call 831-345-5153.