Monterey Herald Article: Fishermen Looking Forward to the 2020 Salmon Season

Monterey Herald Article: Fishermen Looking Forward to the 2020 Salmon Season

Our friends over at the Monterey Heraldpublished this recent article.

PUBLISHED: April 30, 2020 at 4:20 p.m. | UPDATED: April 30, 2020 at 4:20 p.m.

Monterey Bay Fishermen

Thanh Dang of San Jose picks up a salmon caught on his boat The Sea Monkey for for California Department of Fish and Wildlife technician Amanda McDermott to see as Dang’s friends Frank Wong, left, and Theo Ta look on during the opening day of the recreational salmon season at Moss Landing Harbor on Saturday April 1, 2017. (David Royal – Monterey Herald)

There’s a frenzied pace to life in Monterey Bay’s fishing ports this week. Today, May 1, fishermen and women in Santa Cruz, Moss Landing and Monterey began to harvest the iconic California king salmon — sustainable, nutritious and the economic backbone of local working waterfronts during summer months. Wild king salmon and summer barbeques are as steeped in California culture as fresh, in-season Dungeness crab for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner.

While a few winters of healthy rainfall and strong management plans have been a boon to California salmon populations running to the Sacramento River, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have wreaked havoc on local seafood supply chains. We fishermen and women can catch the fish, but the question is: Who will buy them?

Local fishermen and women aren’t unique in this crisis. We’ve seen family members laid off from their jobs, our children kept home from school and just about every aspect of life changed as we as a society muster the wherewithal to fight this deadly disease. But, commercial fishing is an essential business. Like the agricultural workers in the fertile fields of the Monterey Bay region, we provide our community and society with the food needed to live healthy lives.

Restaurants are the normal conduit connecting fishermen and women to consumers, accounting for approximately 75 percent of the local catch. But with restaurants shuttered to dine-in patrons and plans to reopen on an uncertain time frame, we’re quickly retooling distribution to bring fresh hook and line caught California king salmon — aka Chinook — to your dinner table.

Commercial fishing is a solitary craft. Boats — typically owned and operated by small independent proprietors — chase schools of salmon around the Monterey Bay, north to the Sonoma Coast and sometimes as far south as Santa Barbara. Each fish is caught, cleaned and iced by hand. When fishing is hot there’s not much time for sleep. When weather comes up, it’s sometimes necessary to stay on the water if the fish are biting — mortgages are paid and families are clothed and fed on the precious few days we get to spend on the water.

While this pursuit is a solitary one, we are dependent on our communities to support our timeless craft of harvesting the ocean’s wild bounty. In the face of this unprecedented crisis we’ve seen communities come together by offering aid, support, and solidarity to their neighbors through acts of kindness and letting their dollars talk by investing in local businesses through local purchases. And as luck would have it, supporting your local fishermen and women is just about one of the most delicious and healthiest things you could do.

California troll-caught king salmon is listed as a “Good Alternative” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch. Fluctuations in yearly abundance is determined by winter rainfall and the protection of upstream spawning habitat, not by overfishing. In fact, California salmon has been harvested at sustainable levels for decades. We make our livelihoods at sea, so being stewards of this shared resource is of the utmost importance to us.

This sustainable protein that’s high in Omega-3s fatty acids is also one of the most nutritious things you could eat. It can’t prevent the spread of the coronavirus, but local, wild-caught king salmon can lay the foundation to a healthy diet and an improved immune system.

Local community supported fisheries like H&H Fresh Fish and Ocean2Table in Santa Cruz and Real Good Fish in Moss Landing bring salmon and other seasonal species of fish directly to you. Local fish markets and fishmongers are still in business and some offer delivery services. Many restaurants provide local seafood for take-out and major grocery stores like Safeway and New Leaf also buy local salmon sourced from local fishermen and women. Our partners in the local seafood supply chain are too long to list here, but the Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust has compiled a comprehensive “Local Catch Guide” on their website.

None of us can be sure when we’ll turn the corner on the COVID-19 pandemic, but we’ll be doing our part on the water, one California king salmon at a time, hoping to bring you and your family a tasty meal whether it be barbequed, baked, broiled or braised. Together we’ll get through this, together we can sustain a better tomorrow — on land, at sea, and on our dinner plates.

— Adam Aliotti, F/V Ocean Warrior; Alan Lovewell, Real Good Fish; Andrew Hippert, Moss Landing Boat Works, F/V Cecilia B, F/V Huckleberry; Calder Deyerle, F/V Sea Harvester; Captain Eben Forstell , Simeon Forstell , The Forstell brothers, F/V Flounder Pounder; Charlie Lambert, Ocean2Table; Darren Gertler; David Toriumi, F/V Grinder; Diane Colwell, Monterey Bay Boatworks Company; Fosmark Fisheries, LLC and F/V Yaznak; Frank Cunningham, F/V Carley Diane & F/V Krazy Kate; Giovanni Pennisi, F/V Irene’s Way. F/V Elaine; Hans Haveman, HH Fresh Fish; Jason Chin, F/V Silver Fin; Jim Moser, F/V Tradewind; Joe Roggio, Del Mar Seafoods, Inc.; Joe Stoops, F/V Taylor-Gene Santa Cruz; Joey Parks, F/V Misty Dawn, Santa Cruz; John Koeppen, F/V Lulu; Jonathan Frederico, Lusamerica Foods, Inc.; Kathy Fosmark and Frank Emerson, Alliance of Communities for Sustainable Fisheries; Kevin Butler, F/V Timothy J Santa Cruz; Mike Hubbell, F/V Sun Catcher, President of Santa Cruz Commercial Fishermen’s Association; Mike Ricketts, F/V Sea Hawk; Rodney Armstrong/Santa Cruz Coastal Charters/commercial fisherman on the F/V Salmon Streaker; Roger Whitney, Bay Fresh Seafoods; Skylar Campbell, F/V Sable; Steve Scheiblauer, Marine Alliances Consulting; Tim Obert, F/V Stacey Jo; Tom Dolan, MEGA-BITE; Tom McCray, F/V Tonto II; Board and Staff of the Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust.

Read the article on the Monterey Herald’s website here.