Archive for July, 2011

Jul 29 2011

Long-time local fishing family hopes to memorialize those lost at sea

Elizabeth Pennisi-Nozicka and Jiri Nozicka in front of the San Giovanni on Monterey’s Wharf #2. The wooden trawler has been in the Pennisi family for more than 50 years.

By Joel Ede

Having stuffed the hold of his 50-foot trawler, Relentless, with Dover sole, David “Rowdy” Pennisi, 43, and crew member Michael Odom headed to San Francisco in the early hours of June 21, 2004 to offload their catch. But, like hundreds of other Central Coast fishermen, they never made it back to port.

The Pennisi family has been a cornerstone of the Monterey fishing industry since the early 1900s, and the tragic story of Captain Rowdy and the Relentless has since become local lore. Rowdy’s sister, Elizabeth Pennisi-Nozicka, says since her brother’s accident, memorializing the lost fishermen of the Central Coast has weighed heavily on her heart. Monterey is one of the only major fishing ports on the West Coast without a dedicated memorial to commercial fishermen.

Heading up People United for American Commercial Fisheries, Pennisi-Nozicka and her husband, Jiri Nozicka, are reaching out to the community with high hopes that this year’s Third Annual Fisherman’s Days will raise enough money to construct a permanent memorial.

Technological advances like the Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon and on-the-hour transponder transmissions, which relay ship speeds and locations to the National Marine Fisheries Service, are designed to make life safer for fishermen.

But navigating the Central Coast is just as dangerous today as it was 100 years ago – maybe even more so, says Nozicka, a fisherman on the Pennisi family’s wooden trawler, San Giovanni.

Read the rest here.

Jul 29 2011

San Diego Union Tribune-Letter: Foraging for responsible bills

San Diego Union-Tribune

Letters to the Editor

July 29, 2011

If you didn’t know, you might think that forage fish like sardines and squid are on the brink of destruction in California. That’s what some activists and the Union-Tribune story on Assembly Bill 1299 imply (“Thinking small for a sea change,” July 18). However, these claims are incorrect.

California’s forage fisheries are among the best protected in the world, with one of the lowest harvest rates. Yet this state would squander millions of tax dollars – and thousands of jobs – to duplicate existing laws. Why?

To initiate new legislation like AB 1299 as if no current regulation exists is fiscally irresponsible and disrespectful of California’s management history.

Moreover, virtually all of these species range far beyond California state waters and wouldn’t be helped by this bill.

The anti-fishing activists pushing this legislation misrepresented the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s research. For example, they cited an incomplete ecosystem assessment to prove their overfishing hype, but failed to say it excluded Southern California waters, where 80 percent of California’s squid harvest occurs. AB 1299 is simply a disingenuous attempt to curtail sustainable fisheries.

 — Diane Pleschner-Steele, California Wetfish Producers Association

Jul 26 2011

FORUM: Anti-fishing proposal would shipwreck balanced marine management

By D.B. Pleschner

North County Times

If you didn’t know better, you might think that forage fish like sardines and squid are on the brink of destruction in California.

That’s what some activists imply. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

California’s coastal pelagic “forage” fisheries are the most protected in the world, with one of the lowest harvest rates.

In addition to strict fishing quotas, the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), has implemented no-take reserves, including many near bird rookeries and haul-out sites to protect forage for marine life.

But activists are pushing even more restrictions in the form of Assembly Bill 1299.

California already provides a science-based process to manage forage species. The federal Pacific Fishery Management Council is also developing a California Current Ecosystem Management Plan, covering the entire West Coast, not just California state waters. Further, the federal Coastal Pelagic Species Fishery Management Plan that governs these fish adopted an ecosystem-based management policy more than a decade ago.

To initiate new legislation like AB 1299 as if no regulation exists is fiscally irresponsible and disrespectful of California’s management history.

The National Marine Fisheries Service voiced concern about the bill’s redundancy and overlap with federal management, pointing out that it could actually impede ecosystem-based management.

AB 1299 won’t protect forage species because virtually all range far beyond California state waters, which only extend three miles from shore.

But the bill does jeopardize the future of California’s historic wetfish fisheries, the backbone of California’s fishing economy. AB 1299 restricts California fishermen unfairly, because virtually all the forage species listed are actively managed or monitored by the federal government and most species are harvested along the entire West Coast.

In this economic crisis, why would California squander millions of dollars —- and sacrifice thousands of jobs —- on an unfunded mandate that duplicates existing laws?

Apparently this doesn’t matter to activists, whose rhetoric claims that overfishing is occurring in California now and a change is needed.

AB 1299 proponents have made many false claims about forage species. For example, they referenced a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration evaluation of the California Current Ecosystem, predicting a downward trend for some marine life, including squid, but failed to explain that this report was simply a draft. The evaluation excluded southern Californiawaters, where 80 percent of the squid harvest occurs. A record spawning event also occurred in 2010.

And consider sardines. After their decline in the 1940s, fishery managers instituted an ecosystem-based management plan that accounts for forage needs before setting harvest quotas, and reduces quotas in concert with natural declines in the resource. The harvest quota for the West Coast plummeted 74 percent from 2007 to 2011.

But activists embellished a NOAA graph to “prove” their claim that the current sardine population decline was due to overfishing. The marine scientist who developed the graph pointed out their error, stating, “You can rest assured that the U.S. has not exceeded the overfishing limit based on the rules in place today.”

In fact, the majority of California’s fishing community —- municipalities, harbor districts, recreational and commercial fishing groups, seafood companies and knowledgeable fishery scientists —- oppose AB 1299, seeing it as a disingenuous attempt to curtail sustainable fisheries unnecessarily.

D.B. Pleschner is executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association, a nonprofit designed to promote sustainable wetfish resources.

Jul 26 2011

Cooking Channel: Fresh Local Sardines at San Diego Restaurant, July 26 at 7:30 pm

Sea Rocket Bistro Blasts Off into Cooking Channel Stratosphere

Fresh local sardines will be the subject of an episode of Hook, Line and Dinner, Tuesday, July 26 at 7:30 pm. 

By Brandon Hernández | Posted July 25, 2011

A San Diego eatery is going to be featured on a food-related TV program and, for once, it’s not Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. That non triple-D eatery is North Park’s Sea Rocket Bistro, which has gained a good deal of attention of late after bidding its former chef adieu earlier this year to bring on new exec chef and partner Chad White.

But it’s not a back-of-house shake-up that got the attention of the Cooking Channel. Fresh local sardines will be the subject of an episode of the programHook, Line and Dinner that will air this Tuesday, July 26 at 7:30 pm. Sea Rocket offers three sardine preparations – grilled whole as part of a salad with asparagus, watercress, a pickled ranch egg and Sauce Vierge; served with with mustard aioli and pickled veg; and stuffed into street tacos during happy hour.

Read the rest of the story here.

Jul 25 2011

Fishing town struggling in aftermath of tsunami

The aftermath of the March 11 tsunami in the inner boat basin in Crescent City. (NOAA's National Ocean Service/Flickr)

July 22, 2011 | Matt Drange

It’s been four months since tsunami waves generated by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake off the coast of Japan ravaged the harbor in Northern California’s Crescent City, destroying pilings and sinking 16 boats after ripping them from their docks.

But the diminutive harbor is still a long way from functional, crippling to a local economy dependent on the fishing industry. Tsunami victims, meanwhile, are finding little help in disaster relief, much of it in the form of reimbursements and loans they can’t afford.

Excluding the inmates who reside in Pelican Bay State Prison, Crescent City is home to about 4,200 people. The town already took a significant hit when most of the lumber mills and fish processing facilities were shuttered in the last decade, forcing hundreds to leave in search of jobs. Once home to eight lumber mills and three fish processing plants, Crescent City is down to just one of each.

“In a small community, when you lose 100 jobs, it’s a big impact. Maybe five years ago, in the good ol’ days, if you will, it wouldn’t have been so bad,” said Bill Renfroe, executive director of Crescent City’s Tri-Agency Economic Development Authority. “But today, with everybody struggling, it’s a serious impact.”

Tsunami surges deposited more than 78,000 cubic yards of sediment in the inner boat basin, making it as shallow as 4 feet in some areas and effectively shutting out boats longer than 15 feet. The harbor is the largest dungeness crab exporter on the West Coast. At one time, it had more than 100 fishing vessels; now there are only a handful.

Read the rest here.

Jul 23 2011

Sardines: Canned or fresh, it’s all good

The flavor of sardines at Presidio Social Club is a good match for cocktails. John Storey/Special to The San Francisco Chronicle

by Michael Bauer


Earlier this week, I was writing the introduction to this week’s Food&Wine newsletter which focuses on seasonal recipes. The topic was sardines, which drew out some long-buried memories.

Only a few years ago sardines were rare on menus, but now they’re coming into the spotlight as more people become aware of seasonality and sustainable seafood practices. The emergence of this strong-tasting fish on restaurant menus seems to parallel the growing cocktail culture. Sardines make great snacks with a stiff drink, which is why you’ll find them in the snack section on many menus.

Even though I only eat fresh these days, whenever I see the word “sardines” I first think of the canned variety. Growing up, tinned sardines and soda crackers were a lunch-time staple.

At least 20 years ago I dined with two food and wine legends in an East Bay restaurant — Gerald Asher, who was the longtime wine writer for Gourmet; and Elizabeth David, one of the most respected British cookbook authors. During that dinner we got into a discussion of sardines; both of them loved the canned variety. I was surprised to learn that they also both “aged” the tins for a time. From there the discussion turned to how long is ideal.

It’s been decades since I’ve had the canned product, but remembering this conversation I think I’ll go out and try them. Maybe they will be my new lunchtime staple a year or so down the line, once they’ve properly mellowed in their cans.

For now I’ll stick to fresh sardines. The 10 places below show how versatile this fish really is. If you want to try the Spoonbar or Gitane dishes at home, click here for the recipes.

Read the rest of the article here.


Jul 22 2011

Why Sardines Should Be at the Top of Your Grocery List

Note – California’s sardine fishery reopens September 15.

By Owen Burke

The truth about sardines is that they are probably one of the healthiest finfish you can eat from the sea. They are hardly ever farm-raised, which means that they swim and eat as they please and are rich in vitamin D3, your Omega-3′s and purines. Large apex predators like tuna and swordfish and salmon are known to accumulate excessive levels of heavy metals, while sardines may contain up to 8 million times less mercury than even salmon.


Do you ever wonder why it is that, especially in the United States, many people avoid eating sardines? Aside from the fact that they are usually associated with a tin can on a grocery shelf, sardines, or pilchards, are quite oily and bony. The sardine is, however, a very healthy option. Sardines feed on photosynthetic plankton, so as lighter consumers, they acquire very minuscule concentrations of heavy metals than most larger, more commercially sought predators do. Because of their diet, sardines are rich in omega-3 oils, protein, good cholesterol, selenium, and calcium and fluoride if you eat the soft bones.

Often sold at around $2.00 USD a pound, they are certainly cheap enough for most of us, too.

There are about 21 different species of sardines, all belonging to the Clupeidae family, but they can all be prepared the same way. The best way to have sardines is fresh, of course, and this will thoroughly reduce the “fishy” smell left behind. If your fish aren’t scaled, do so carefully with a knife, removing the entrails afterwards. As with most fish, the best marinade is simply olive oil, lemon and parsley. If you toss them on the grill afterwards, you’ll add a nice charred flavor to the fish, while also keeping the smell out of the house.

Read the rest of the story here.

Jul 22 2011

Grilled Sardines with Lemon and Olive Oil

Note – California’s sardine fishery reopens September 15.

Uuber-easy is the name of the game with this classic Mediterranean recipe.

Grilled sardines are a completely different beast than the oil-packed, canned ones, and they come to life with just a bit of lemon juice and olive oil. We used our robust Italian Blend Olive Oil, since its spice and aroma hold up well to the grill, and finished off with only citrus and seasonings, this summer dinner is done in under 10. Serve it up with a side of olive tapenade, garlic bread, and cheeses for a lovely platter.


  • 8 medium sardines, cleaned, head and tail intact
  • 2 tablespoons Italian Blend Olive Oil, plus more for serving
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 16 rounds thinly sliced lemon
  • 4 lemons, halved, for serving
  • Black olives, for serving

    Read the rest of the directions here.



Jul 21 2011

State’s no-fishing rule stinks

'No Fishing' photo (c) 2005, Paul Downey - license:

By David Hansen

When fishing as a boy, I used to stare at my jar of salmon eggs and marvel. I wondered how they could arrive so perfectly formed and opaque and inherently controversial — stripped from their host like corn off a cob.

Years later as a reporter covering tribal fishing rights in the Pacific Northwest, I learned a lot more about salmon eggs, types of salmon, salmon hatcheries, salmon fillets, Copper River salmon (yes, they are worth the price) and how to properly paint a salmon-colored wall.

So it is with great interest I read about how the state of California basically will ban fishing off Laguna Beach starting Oct. 1 (Coastline Pilot, “State’s ‘no fishing’ rule starts in fall,” July 8).

There are some activities in life — fishing, hunting, reading a paper, purchasing certain goods and services — that are closely tied to “inalienable rights.” People get emotional when you take them away.

There are also times when those activities become at risk due to overuse.

The truth is often somewhere in the middle.

Unfortunately, in our day, it takes lawsuits to figure it all out, and that’s what will happen here.

Read the rest of the column in the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot here.

Jul 21 2011

Fishing banned from most of Laguna Beach this fall

Most of Laguna’s shoreline will be closed to anglers starting this fall.

The city’s  Fish and Game Commission announced that implementation of the Marine Protected Areas, or MPAs, in Southern California will begin Oct. 1 under regulations adopted in December that ban fishing from certain coastal areas.

“Commercial lobster fishermen will lose 30% to 40% of their income with the 7-mile closure of Laguna’s coastline,” Councilman Kelly Boyd told the Coastline Pilot. “As for recreational fishing, sea mammals eat way more than a fisherman catches, and under the restrictions, a man can’t even take his grandson grunion hunting.”

Laguna already has no-take areas, such as Treasure Island and Main Beach tide pools. The ban is expected to start on opening day of the recreational lobster season. Under the regulations, Laguna has three MPAs, said Marine Safety Chief Kevin Snow, who attended a two-hour meeting Tuesday morning with commission representatives.

Read the rest on the LA Times blog here.