Dock to Dish Takes on the West Coast

It started in Montauk with a fisherman’s dream and the desire to support transparency in the fishery. Sean Barrett, a fishing nut and conservationist, started Dock to Dish as a community supported fishery. His sights were set higher with the idea of bringing fresh fish where he could sell the most of it: restaurants. In 2012, Barrett organized New York’s first restaurant supported fishery with the help of big name city chefs including Dan Barber and Eric Ripert, who paid ahead of time to have 50 pounds of whatever was running delivered within 24 hours of landing on the dock in Montauk.

Expansion followed to Key West, and this week, Dock to Dish sent a press release announcing the “establishing the first-ever restaurant supported fishery (RSF) in the state of California” in Los Angeles under the leadership of chef Michael Cimarusti of Providence restaurant and the L.A. Seafood Authority.  At the dock end are 16 Santa Barbara fishermen; they will sell Cimarusti fish listed as non endangered by Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch guide.

Dock to Dish and the chef, according to the release, are doing this because “over 90 percent of seafood in the U.S. is imported, [and] the need to restore access to sustainable domestic fisheries and support local fishermen has never been more pressing.” Paul Greenberg, author and Edible contributor, outlined this in a New York Times op-ed in June.

The first phase of the program will be operated by Community Seafood LLC in Santa Barbara, and dovetail into their existing community supported fishery, founded in 2012 by sustainable seafood activist, Sarah Rathbone, who states “Dock to Dish aims to lower the carbon footprint and environmental impact of the seafood that is available in the Los Angeles area, and help reverse a tide of foreign seafood which has flooded the Southern California marketplace over the past decade.” She adds, “Thanks to years of strict and effective management by NOAA, we now have sustainable fish populations in California, but are still lacking a viable system of sourcing and distribution.”