Rob Seitz of Morro Bay is a commercial fisherman and published poet. One of his poems, “Giving Thanks,” appreciates ling cod for growing his “…children’s muscles and minds stronger and keener….” On the other hand, he questions the folly of Americans exporting 90 percent of the fish caught in the United States to China and then importing 80 percent of our consumption after processing.
“The Pacific Coast has the best managed fisheries in the world,” said Seitz. “We know what we are eating and should continue to encourage the fishermen who have changed their practices to make our fisheries sustainable.”
He and wife, Tiffani, operate South Bay Wild Inc. commercial fishing boat and belong to California’s Groundfish Collective — fishermen from Fort Bragg, Half Moon Bay and Morro Bay who work with the Nature Conservancy in California to “…adapt our businesses to create healthier oceans and better, more productive fisheries...”
Seitz, a trawler, explained that, in 2000, the West Coast ground fisheries was declared a disaster. Fourteen species were considered overfished. Eleven are currently healthy. He believes the industry protocols of the day encouraged fishing for quantity rather than quality.
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Today, a revised quota system encourages more fishermen to keep their boats operating. Morro Bay Community Quota Fund director Andrea Lueker confirmed things are better, yet there is more to accomplish to support the fishermen and sustain the fisheries.
Seitz credits the Quota Fund and a loan from friend, Don Jester, for helping him finally own and captain a trawler boat after 20 years crewing for others in Astoria, Ore. By leasing “quotas,” Seitz can anticipate a regular catch trawling for ling and black cod, dover and petrale sole, thorny head fish and a variety of rockfish.
Direct sales have helped the Seitz pay bills. Client Kevin Lee buys live fish for his Northern California distribution company and three Saigon Seafood Harbor Restaurant outlets. Tiffani manages their online pre-orders at firstname.lastname@example.org, while Seitz fishes several days a week 40 miles north or south of Morro Bay. He’ll message Tiffani about the catch, and she’ll email customers, take orders and let them know when to pick up or expect delivery. The couple also sells at the Paso Robles and Baywood farmers markets and offers storage and filet service to Charter boat customers.
Saturday is the grand opening of South Bay Wild Fish House at 1217 Embarcadero from 2-6 p.m. Expect Seitz to perform his poetry and Tiffani and their four boys to serve samples of smoked black cod, seafood chowder, and petrale sole ceviche. The couple will provide facility tours and information about their unique business during an afternoon of live local music.