Community supported fisheries crop up in Calif.

After years of being popular on the U.S. East Coast, community supported fisheries (CSFs) are now cropping up in California.

The University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), California Sea Great and Commercial Fishermen of Santa Barbara were recently awarded a grant from the Associated Students Coastal Fund at UCSB to help kick-start the “Fisherman’s Village” CSF. The goal is for the Santa Barbara fishing community, which consists of around 200 small-boat owners, to start selling seafood directly to campus residents in early 2012.

Then, they would like to expand to build a larger, fishermen-owned retail outlet for direct sales to the entire community. After getting established on the campus, the CSF wants to develop a city-owned plot of land near Santa Barbara harbor.

“The city wants to see the plot of land used for something that is environmentally friendly and has an educational component to it, to really engage the public,” said Kim Selkoe, a marine ecologist and the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis and UCSB, who’s also the CSF grant project leader.

The species that will likely be included in the CSF include rock crab, California halibut, black cod, white sea bass, spot prawns and sea urchin.

“We might even get into farmed abalone, mussels, oysters and other seafood. We might bring in wild salmon from Alaska, from the Santa Barbara fishermen who fish Alaska salmon during its season,” said Selkoe.

CSF organizers expect that deliveries would be made weekly or bi-weekly. “Direct sales could help the entire community. It could enhance people’s understanding of local fishing and connect them to the fishing community. This is critical for the long-term viability of commercial fishing in Santa Barbara,” said Carolyn Culver, California Sea Grant marine advisor.

A couple of other CSFs have popped up along the West Coast, including S.L.O. Fresh Catch in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Meanwhile, the East Coast has led the movement with the formation of several CSFs over the last few years. In 2009, Duke University in Durham, N.C., and Carteret County fishermen launched the region’s first CSF, dubbed the “Walking Fish” program. Eastman’s Fish, a commercial fishing vessel and retail outlet in Seabrook Beach, N.H., also launched a successful CSF in 2009.


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