Pacific to Plate bill signed into law

SACRAMENTO — Fishermen are now allowed to have their own marketplace no different than farmers as Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Pacific to Plate Act on Oct. 8.

The new law, which was introduced by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) earlier this year, makes it easier for consumers to purchase locally sourced seafood.

Assembly Bill 226 (AB 226) essentially allowed Fish Markets to operate the same as Farmer’s Markets. Fishers can now sell fresh fish in a public square. The Tuna Harbor Dockside Fish Market at San Diego’s Seaport Village is one of the first fully functioning open air Fish Markets in Southern California.

“The massive growth of farmers markets across the state shows us the benefits of allowing direct sales between farmers and consumers. Coastal communities and small-business owners throughout California deserve the same opportunities,” Atkins said.

The Assembly speaker said the Pacific to Plate Act allows commercial fishermen to organize under a single permit the same way farmers do when they organize open air markets in public squares.

AB 226 also sets compliance guidelines requiring fish vendors to maintain food safety guidelines and obide by the California Retail Food Code.

Tuna Harbor in Downtown San Diego recently completed one year of existence in August. The fish market currently features 17 vendors selling 22 species of fish, such as yellowtail and swordfish, in local waters. Fishermen head out to sea in the evening and return the next morning with fish ready to sell to customers at a Seaport Village wharf.

Peter Halmay, a Tuna Harbor founder, said the Pacific to Plate Act positively impacts the local economy and environment.

“The changes to the law will have environmental, economic, and societal benefits as fishermen get a fair price for their product and the consumer gets high-quality local fish, also at a fair price. This will restore the fishermen’s place in San Diego fishing culture,” Halmay said.

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