Archive for » September 13th, 2017«

Direct fish retail sales get the green light at Fisherman’s Wharf

Sales of salmon, tuna, rock fish, halibut and bycatch, sold as whole gutted fish only, will be allowed from the 43 commercial fishing boats that already have berths in certain parts of Fisherman’s Wharf Harbor. Potential seafood mongers will need to jump through a few hoops to sell their fish: They’ll need to get a permit from the city, a license from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and to follow various rules and regulations set up by the city’s departments of public health and environment and the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

The Port Commission voted unanimously to allow the retail sales at the harbor at a public meeting on Tuesday at the Ferry Building. Some members of the San Francisco fishing fleet have pushed for permission to sell fish from their boats to have new outlets for their businesses in light of challenging industry developments like the historically low Chinook salmon populations due to the drought and the domoic acid outbreak that seriously impacted the salmon and Dungeness crab catch in recent years.


“The fish harvested by local commercial fishers is a wild, public resource, and San Franciscans have a right to these fish,” wrote Elaine Forbes, executive director of the Port of San Francisco, in a Sept. 8 memo recommending the pilot program. Forbes envisioned it as a farmers’ market type experience at the Wharf that she wrote would “strengthen the relationship between fishers and the community.”

The Port had to balance the needs of fishermen and fish processors, some who have done business at the wharf for generations, when planning the program. No sales of Dungeness crab will be allowed to protect the business of existing crab stands at the wharf.

During a Port meeting in June, Jeanette Caito of Caito Fisheries on Pier 45 expressed opposition to the fact that Joe Pennisi was selling directly to restaurants and fish companies from his boat. But Michael Nerney, Maritime Marketing Manager at the Port, said in an email that Pennisi can only unload the fish into his truck and then sell it, because wholesale sales are not allowed from vessels at the wharf.

Retail shoppers who come to buy fish won’t be allowed to step foot on the boats, and fishermen will only be able to sell from their boats, as opposed to setting up special stands for sales at the harbor. After a year, the port will evaluate how the program goes — both from the consumers’ and fishers’ points of view — before deciding to continue it.

Retail sales were last allowed at the wharf during a brief trial period in 2000 and ended when not enough fishermen participated, Nerney said. However, direct sales may be more popular now, as other California harbors have thriving direct fish sales programs, including Pillar Point in Half Moon Bay and Spud Point in Bodega Bay. Earlier this year, the weekly Tuna Harbor Dockside Market opened in San Diego, where fishermen and shellfish farmers sell directly to customers at a Saturday farmers’ market style pop-up.

Tara Duggan is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: Twitter: @taraduggan

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Port allows fish sales from boats at Fisherman’s Wharf


Fishermen have been granted the legal right to sell fish from their boats at Fisherman’s Wharf for the first time in nearly two decades.

The pilot program, approved by the Port Commission on Tuesday afternoon, will last for one year, at which time the Port will consider making it permanent. The effort is meant to help fishermen survive in the rocky fishing industry.

“We’re struggling just to keep our boat here,” said Giuseppe “Joe” Pennisi, who captains the fishing boat “Pioneer” out of San Francisco.

Pennisi and others who make their living fishing asked to sell fish from their boats so they could keep their businesses afloat. They said fish sales from their boats would not replace retail sales, but would potentially supplement the incomes of 43 licensed fishing boats at the wharf.

The Port heard an informational item on permanently allowing fishermen to sell fish straight from their boats at its July 11 meeting, but ultimately settled on a pilot program due to a number of concerns, including protecting the health and safety of the public and instituting similar regulations as retailers who sell fish must adhere to.

The Port will not provide direct oversight of fish sales at boats, thought it will dispense permits, which cost $225. Regulators overseeing various aspects of the fish sales include the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

Michael Nerney, the Port’s maritime marketing manager, said prices won’t be regulated and it will be up to “fishers and buyers” to set fair market values. Fish can also be ordered online.

The permit fee is based on what other counties charge for similar permits, though it may be raised if it’s found to be inadequate to cover the cost of administering the program.

The Port may even subsidize the permit program for the “ongoing benefit of the fishing industry” if it’s found to be needed at the end of the pilot in October 2018, Nerney said.

Dan Strazzullo, owner of All Shores Seafood at Fisherman’s Wharf, was concerned about a level playing field between shops and direct sales.

“We have no problem with anyone selling anything, as long as they follow the rules,” he told Port commissioners Tuesday. He noted his shop has fish from all over the world for sale.

Pennisi, by contrast, lauded the new program as a way to re-introduce locals to locally caught fish. His grandfather was also a fisherman in San Francisco in the early 1900s, he said, a tradition passed on through his family.

San Francisco used to play host to one of the largest fleets of fishing vessels on the West Coast, he said, and this program may help its last remnants of that tradition survive.

“This is part of San Francisco’s history,” he said. “I’d hate for it to be gone.”

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Long Beach Yachtsman John Miller, 93, Dies

John Miller was a yachtsman’s yachtsman.

Edward (John) Miller died in his home in Palm Desert with his daughter, Cathy Miller Satariano, at his bedside. He would have been 94 next month and had been battling a number of medical issues over the last few months.

Private services in Palm Desert are planned for later this month.

Miller was born Oct. 3, 1923, in Jefferson City, Mont. He attended Jefferson City High as a freshman, then transferred to Culver Military Academy for three years and graduated in 1942.

In 1943 he enlisted in the Navy and attended ordinance training in Oklahoma. Then it was on to the V-12 program at University of Texas. He taught pilot survival training at Los Alamitos Naval Air station until his discharge in 1946. He graduated from University of Missouri in 1949, moved to California and worked various jobs.

A lifetime member of Long Beach Yacht Club, Miller joined in 1959, before the Appian Way clubhouse celebrated its groundbreaking. He was past chairman of the Naples Boat Parade and served as Naples Improvement Association president in 1986.

He opened the first marine hardware store in Naples. He grew to a larger store, Captain’s Locker, where the Crab Pot is now.

Miller’s business grew steadily. The Captain’s Locker moved to the space that is now home to West Marine, and Miller opened another store in Marina Del Rey. The company merged with Newport Supply Company and continued to grow. Eventually, the company was bought by aGulf and Western Industries.

Miller’s first boat was a 9-foot rowboat that his dad put together in the basement.

In his Seal Beach backyard, he built a 36-foot sport-fishing cruiser from a shell he purchased at Cruise On in Surfside. After two and a half years, his cruiser was ready to launch. He knocked down a 30-foot block-wall fence in order to move the boat to the water.

The family enjoyed the boat and cruising the local waters, but they longed for something bigger. Through research, Miller learned that Ferro-cement boats, if built properly, are stronger than wood or fiberglass and require less maintenance than a steel boat.

In 1975, the keel of the 62-foot Maui Diamond was laid. Miller secured a five-year lease on a vacant lot at Pacific Coast Highway and Loynes. For the next five years, he worked on the Maui Diamond and sold yachts from the onsite sales office he created for Coast Yacht.

This summer, Miller donated the yacht to the Long Beach Sea Scouts. A special fund to help the scouts maintain the boat has been established in Miller’s honor. To donate, go to

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Sales tax is no panacea: Letter to the editor

As a Californian with a vacation home in Oregon, I found Joseph Hertel’s letter (“Sales taxes and what ‘we’ want,” Sept. 3) advocating a state sales tax extremely misguided. He lists a litany of problems facing the state including “crumbling schools, crippling pension debt, horrible roads, etc.”  For a minute, I thought he was describing California, where we have one of the highest tax rates in the nation, including sales taxes up to 9% and a personal income tax of almost 10%. The constant refrain from our political class in Sacramento is “We need more, more, more.” The simple fact is that if you give a politician a nickel it will be spent in a nanosecond with little or no benefit to the nickel giver. 

As for Mr. Hertel’s claim that Oregonians provide us “visitors” with generous, tax free vacations, I guess I’ve missed the boat. The fact that most cities don’t charge a sales tax on restaurant meals hardly qualifies as a generous tax free vacation. I suggest my friends in Oregon keep an eye on their politicians and a hand on their wallets.

Rick Birle, Lake Forest, Calif.

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