There’s something fishy going on at the Saturday farmers’ market in San Luis Obispo.
Sustainably fishy, that is.
Wild Local Seafood Company, founded as an alternative to unsustainable and ecologically destructive fishing practices worldwide, will now have a booth at the market (8-10:45 a.m., at the World Market/Embassy Suites lot), offering a wide range of fresh seafood from California, including halibut, white sea bass, Pacific red rock cod and more.
The Ventura-based company is led by Captain Ben Hyman (pictured above, with son Kai and a salmon), who graduated from UC, Santa Barbara, where he studied marine biology, biological oceanography and history. While he was certified to teach in the state, he had been working on fishing boats since he was 16 and continued to do so after college.
The boats he’s worked on are considered sustainable because they used hooks and lines instead of gill netting or trawling.
“Luckily in the State of California, gill netting and trawling is highly regulated,” he said in this interview. “So we have a state where NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), the governing body, makes a sustainability plan for each of the fish where we as fisherman are not allowed to harvest or even take any fish if it is not seen as sustainable.”
Wild Local Seafood follows the NOAA rules closely.
“We catch our salmon one at a time with lures,” he said in this Q&A. “We make sure they’re the right size and variety. And if they’re not, we throw them back.”
Many restaurants buy seafood imported from other countries – often from companies that do not use sustainable practices. That impacts the freshness of the fish, Hyman says, while delivery of seafood from faraway places contributes to harmful emissions.
Meanwhile, farmed fish is poor quality because of the use of dye and GMO’s. Wild fish can only be fished sustainably during certain times of the year due to breeding patterns, while many farmed fish have had their biological cycles altered or have been given hormones, impacting breeding.
“You shouldn’t come down here to the farmer’s market looking for the most perfect peach on earth in the middle of December,” he said. “That should be the same way people feel about fish, but they don’t (it) see that way since there is a homogenized product that they can get year round seven days a week.”
Customers can be assured that Hyman’s seafood represents local fish caught in season with sustainable practices.
Wild Local Seafood, which is expected to join the SLO market this Saturday, sells fish to eateries, caterers and at farmers’ markets in Southern California. Their seafood also includes:
- Spiny lobster
- Sone crab
- Dungenous crab
- Black cod
- Spot prawn
- Black gill
- Uni (urchin)