Jan 26 2015

Dockside fish market lands Capitol ally

‘Pacific to Plate’ bill would help market grow by easing state rules – By Chris Nichols

UTI1789005_r620x349August 2nd, 2014 San Diego, CA- Allison Roach prepares to bag a 16 lb. yellow fin tuna for a customer on the first day of San Diegos Tuna Harbor Dockside Market on Saturday downtown near Seaport Village. Photo by David Brooks/ U-T San Diego MANDATORY PHOTO CREDIT DAVID BROOKS / U-T SAN DIEGO; ZUMA Press. — David Brooks

SACRAMENTO — San Diego’s newest fish market has landed an ally at the state Capitol.

Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, has announced a bill dubbed “Pacific to Plate,” to make it easier for the Tuna Harbor Dockside Market, and others like it, to operate and flourish.

Located just north of Seaport Village on Harbor Lane, the venue offers an open-air seafood market that carries overtones of Pike’s Market in Seattle or Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. Officials with the county and Port of San Diego worked with local fishers to get the market legally certified. It launched in August.

“Since the market opened, thousands of San Diegans have enjoyed being able to walk down this pier and choose their next meal from the fresh catch brought ashore by our local fishermen,” Atkins said during a press conference at the market this past weekend, according to a news release from her office.

“Though the market has been successful, there are still some barriers in state law that need to be overcome to ensure its ongoing operation. ‘Pacific to Plate,’ the legislation I am introducing in the Assembly, will help keep red tape from tangling up this boon to San Diego’s Blue Economy.”

The legislation proposes to:

• Allow Fishermen’s Markets to operate as food facilities.

• Allow fresh fish to be cleaned for direct sale at Fishermen’s Markets.

• Streamline the permitting process, so commercial fishermen can organize under a single permit — just like Certified Farmers’ Markets.

Currently, Fishermen’s Markets are not defined in state law as food facilities, complicating the permit process. Also, an exemption is needed to allow vendors to clean fresh fish for customers.

“San Diego was once the tuna capital of the world,” noted San Diego County Supervisor Cox, in the news release. “This bill can help us establish more fishermen’s markets, create more jobs for local fishermen and give San Diegans more fish caught fresh off our waters.”

The bill has bipartisan support from San Diego County’s legislative delegation, including Assemblymembers Rocky Chávez, Brian Jones, Brian Maienschein, Marie Waldron and Shirley Weber and state Senators Joel Anderson, Patricia Bates, Marty Block and Ben Hueso, according to the release.

Since it opened, San Diego’s Tuna Harbor market has drawn about 350 visitors a week, who together spend about $15,000 on fresh seafood brought directly to the pier by local fishermen, the release said.

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