Fishing is starting to slow down and our partner boats are beginning to get their crab gear ready; which can only mean one thing!

Winter is coming!

As winter approaches, our predictability for what we will be off loading from our boats on Tuesday becomes less and less sure.  Our partner boats that usually bring in upwards of 500-700 lbs are bringing in closer to 50-100 lbs more often than not, and we only know exactly how much was caught when the boat is heading back home from fishing - and even then, it's just an estimate.  Final weights are measured at our warehouse and then we process the whole fish into beautiful portions for you to enjoy!  Our happiest moments are when we can buy a whole boatload and fulfill everyone's orders, but lately we have been overselling due to the slow down in fishing and the increasing demand for our ultra-fresh fish... so we have decided that it is time to make some changes that we will be implementing this week.

  1. Our usual Saturday/Sunday "Opt-In" e-mail will now become a Saturday "Fishing Update" e-mail.  This will be an update of what we are hearing from our partner boats - often times we don't offer a certain species (White Seabass for example) because we aren't 100% sure that the fish will be caught.  This gives us the opportunity to include what we are expecting without overselling the fish incase the catch is very limited.  These e-mails will also be more informative and include more text than we usually would include in an "Opt-In" e-mail to stay true to our mission of providing sustainable seafood as well as resources to educate and empower our customers.

  2. All of our fish will be available on our website on Monday or Tuesday, and once we have sold out, then the product will be unavailable for purchase.  Again, this is aimed at reducing the amount of overselling.  Hub point hosts will have shares reserved even if we sell out (one of the many hub point host benefits!)

  3. E-mail "Opt-In's" are no longer an option.  E-mail "Opt-In's"  were much easier to handle when it was just a few of you awesome people ordering, but as demand has grown, our procedure for individually inputting each order has stayed the same and has proved to be a difficult and unscalable process moving forward.  We came to this realization a couple months ago, and we have been making changes to our website to ensure a smooth transition for those of you that are used to the "Opt-In" e-mail process.

  4. Recipes will be added to the website before all deliveries and a link will be included in your confirmation e-mail so that you can get a head start on your dinner plans.

Now for the exciting part, this weeks' Fishing Update!

See below...

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Fishing Update

Common Name: White Seabass
 Sciaenidae (Croakers)

Species Name: Atractoscion nobilis
Catch Method: Hook and Line
Our Partner Boat(s) Catch Location(s): Monterey to San Francisco
Species Catch Range:  Baja California to Juneau, Alaska
Seafood Watch Rating: "Good Alternative" - see the details for the reasoning behind this

Share Size:
Full Share - 1 lbs skin-on, boneless fillet
Half Share - .5 lbs skin-on, boneless fillet

The Details: 
Local White Seabass is a delicious treat with a texture somewhere between swordfish and halibut - white, flakey, but meaty and moist, perfect for pretty much any cooking style.  It's easy to get confused with Seabass, because it's actually a part of the croaker family - closely related to California Corbina; however, Seabass is the only member of the family to grow over 20 lbs. This is one of our favorite fish, and probably the rarest local fish that we offer.  It spends very little time in the Bay Area where it likes to hang out 120 meters deep swimming in and out of kelp forests feeding on squid, anchovies, and occasionally other small species like mackerel.  Seabass is high up on the food chain; however, its diet consists of smaller fish, so mercury levels are not a concern despite its large size - which can reach upwards of 80 lbs locally!

Why is it a "Good Alternative" from SeafoodWatch?  Most of the White Seabass that you see at the fish counter in local markets is caught in Mexico where the fish are more abundant, but the regulations and oversight of the fishery is seriously lacking.  Unfortunately for us and our fishermen, the entire fishery was assessed by Seafood Watch, and the fishery in Mexico had a huge impact on the sustainability score.  Our local fishery is highly regulated and a minimum length of 28 inches is required for the fish to be commercially sold.  In our opinion, Local Seabass caught by our partner boats is a Best Choice!

Common Name: CA Halibut

Species Name: Paralichthys californicus
Catch Method: Hook and Line
Our Partner Boat(s) Catch Location(s): Monterey to Alameda
Species Catch Range:  Baja California to the Quilayute River in Washington
Seafood Watch Rating: "Best Choice"

Share Size:

Full Share - 1 lbs skin-on, boneless fillet
Half Share - .5 lbs skin-on, boneless fillet

Whole fish - when the catch is abundant we will offer small fish that we refer to as "Roasters."  These fish are usually between 3-5 lbs and are perfect to throw on the grill or to roast whole in the oven.  All whole fish come scaled and cleaned - meaning no scales, guts, or gills for you to deal with!

The Details:  

When people ask us what is the best fish to try for people who don't like fish, we always tell them, Halibut! It is loved by all for being the trifecta of mild-moist-and firm meat that is easy to cook with and even easier to devour! It's a versatile fish that's perfect for bold flavor profiles - we especially love ours in curry or roasted in the oven with veggies and spices!

Our local Halibut is actually a flounder - more closely related to a Fluke than a Pacific Halibut. That probably explains why most people (especially sushi chefs) prefer our local halibut over it's Alaskan counterpart. In sushi restaurants, it is highly regarded for its clean and fresh flavors and its buttery texture when served raw. All of our California Flounder (Halibut) are caught using traditional hook and line methods by small boats - usually no more than 2-3 people on board. Currently we work with a handful of small halibut boats from San Francisco, to Alameda, to Santa Cruz, and they all use the same fishing method. We meet with our partner boats late night Monday and throughout the day on Tuesday, and then we work early into the morning on Wednesday filleting and packaging your order for delivery.  Our partners at Seafood Watch consider these fish a Best Choice because the fishery is well managed, the fishing gear has little affect on the environment, and there is no by-catch.

Common Name: Market Squid

Species Name: Loligo opalescens
Catch Method: Purse seine net
Our Partner Boat(s) Catch Location(s): Monterey to Alameda
Species Catch Range:  Baja California to Southeastern Alaska
Seafood Watch Rating: "Good Alternative" - see the details for the reasoning behind this

Share Size:
Full Share - 3 lbs of Market Squid (cleaning required - click here for details)
Half Share - 1.5 lbs of Market Squid (cleaning required - click here for details)

Why not process the squid?  

Squid have a very short shelf life - often times it starts to turn from great to poor quality within a couple of days which is why you rarely see them at local markets.  This process is slowed down if the squid are kept whole and on ice, once you process and clean them it is best to eat or freeze them right away.  If you do decide to clean your squid the day before you eat them, then store the cleaned squid in buttermilk.  It not only tenderizes the meat, but it also prevents the squid from getting a "fishy" smell.

The Details:  

Squid - also referred to as Cephalopods - are a delicious treat that we are glad to be able to offer somewhat consistently.  It is one of the largest local fisheries; however, it can take long unexpected breaks and mysteriously seem to vanish during El Niño events (happening about every 4-5 years now.). Little is known about the present size, age structure, or status of the market squid population, however consistent historic catch numbers suggest that the fishery is well managed and not at risk for overfishing.  There are approximately 750 recognized species of squids alive today, and they all have a similar structure.

They use their fins for swimming in the same way that most fish do, and they can "funnel" themselves to swim in extremely fast jet-like propulsions either forward or backward.  Their ability to continue to swim for prolonged amounts of time allows them to migrate large distances and move vertically through hundreds of meters of water to feed.  Their lifecycle is extremely short (10 months at most) and they die after spawning - like salmon!  Our local commercial fishery targets spawning squid to ensure that the younger squid have an opportunity to grow and reproduce.  How do they target mature squid you may ask?  Its pretty simple actually!  Spawning squid congregate in dense schools, making it easy to target without affecting their eggs.  Research has proved that squid exhibit a very high natural mortality rate - meaning that the squid have a predictable and short life span with entire stocks being made of new squid annually.  Moral of the story: eat squid while they are here!

Seafood Watch gives this special species a "Good Alternative" rating because there hasn't been an accurate stock assessment done on the fishery, so current numbers are unknown.  It is, however, widely known that the squid population is soaring and historic slowdowns in the fishery have little to do with fishing, but more to do with environmental changes in ocean temperature.  The by-catch from the fishery is minimal and there is no damage to the ocean floor while seining from the boats that we work with.  There are also several marine protected areas that allow the populations to grow and allow for scientific research on the species.  We are confident that we are sourcing the most sustainable and fresh squid possible.

Common Name: Pacific Rock Crab (West Coast Stone Crab)

Species Name:
Yellow Rock Crab: Cancer anthonyi
Brown Rock Crab: Cancer antennarius
Red Rock Crab: Cancer productus
Catch Method: Trap/Pot
Our Partner Boat(s) Catch Location(s): Santa Cruz
Species Catch Range:  Baja California to Kodiak, Alaska - see details for the range of each species
Seafood Watch Rating: "Good Alternative" - see the details for the reasoning behind this

Share Size:
Full Share - 1 lbs of cooked Rock Crab arms
Half Share - .5 lbs of cooked Rock Crab arms

Why only sell rock crab arms?  

We sell the rock crab arms because they are the meatiest and most delicious part of the rock crab.  The bodies are pretty tough to get into and often times yield a disappointing amount of meat, so we process the arms from the crabs and include only the best parts in your order!  Our Rock Crab bodies are great for soups and stocks, so be sure an send us an e-mail if you are interested in frozen rock crab bodies.  Our biggest rock crab body customers are actually not even humans at all!  The majority of our rock crab bodies are sold to the Oakland Zoo and are fed to the Otters, Grizzly Bears, Mountain Lions, Condors, and more!

The Details:  
We like to think of our local Rock Crab as the Western cousin of the famous Florida Stone Crabs! They have big meaty claws and rock-hard exteriors to protect their sweet centers. Most of their meat is in their claws and the arm attached to that claw, so that is what we deliver with our shares.

There is only a small handful of boats going out to target rock crab and we are thrilled to be able to source them locally from Captain Jason Chin out of Santa Cruz - @chinacod . He has been fishing rock crab for years and delivers some of the largest, meatiest, most stunning crab that you won't be finding at your local grocery store.  The majority of rock crab that are caught are found in Southern California, while only 10-15 percent of commercial landings are done north of Monterey.  The range of these delicious crabs is dependent on the species, and lucky for us, we happen to be in the center for all three species.

Yellow rock crabs range from Baja California up to Humboldt Bay, brown rock crabs from Baja California to northern Washington, and red rock crab from Baja California to Kodiak, Alaska.  All three species can occur together in any range from shallow waters to depths of 300 feet or more, but fishing has proved that yellow rock crab prefer the sandy soft bottom habitats, while brown and red rock crabs prefer rocky type habitats.  They are a relatively short lived species, having an average lifespan of 5-7 years.  The good news is that they are prolific reproducers - females can produce up to 4 million eggs at a time!

Seafood Watch rates our three species of rock crab as a "Good Alternative" due to the fact that the fishery hasn't been assessed and the fishery isn't as highly regulated as some others.  The majority of this concern surrounds the fishery in Southern California where 85-90 of the commercial landings occur.  The other area of concern is the fishery in Oregon that occasionally has a by-catch of native whelks that are protected.  We are confident that by working with one small boat out of Santa Cruz that is captained by a respected and experienced sustainable fisherman that we are sourcing our crabs above the standards set by Seafood Watch.

Make us do the happy dance!
Become a pick up location host - enjoy reserved shares even if we sell out, discounted orders, invites and discounted tickets to special events, special catering/private event pricing, and the best part - help promote sustainable, local, and fresh seafood in your community!

Sustainable seafood is something to be celebrated every day of the week but for now we will celebrate Wednesday's as our primary delivery day.  Our goal is to eventually have our own brick and mortar store where all our customers can come celebrate sustainability with us - more to come on that soon, stay tuned!