Yesterday, the San Francisco Port Commission approved a one-year pilot program proposed by agency officials to allow the sale of fish directly from fishing boats, reviving a program that expired nearly two decades ago.
According to the Examiner, the Port will consider making the program permanent after the pilot concludes.
The Commission first floated the idea after fishers approached the agency in January, citing a desire to earn additional income. Due to the the high cost of regulation of vessel safety, fish handling, and fishing quotas, they explained that retail sales would supplement income and help maintain economic vitality.
Giuseppe Pennisi—who comes from a fishing family and is the owner of fishing vessel Pioneer—argued for direct sales at a Commission meeting in July.
"Nobody has an overhead as high as a fishing boat…more than any processing plant," he said. "Plus, I have to risk my life. None of these people have to do that who have a resale business."
"When you can have flexibility, you can do a lot with a fishing boat."
The move only applies to permanent berth-holders at Fisherman's Wharf who sell whole fish, pay a $225 fee, and comply with all state and local laws, potentially impacting 43 licensed fishing boats at the wharf.
Sports boats berthed at Jefferson Street and the Hyde Street harbor would be excluded from the program.
However, some have opposed direct sales from fishing boats because of concerns over health and safety regulations.
Some distributors have also called for authorities to ensure an equal playing field for fishing boats and distributors, leading the Commission to opt for a pilot program instead of outright approval.
"I’m not against anybody in business...but I was forced to get a facility on the pier. I’m also required to have 10 licenses," said Dan Strazzullo with All Shores Seafood during public comment at July's Port Commission Meeting.
Maintaining his position at yesterday's meeting, Strazzullo reiterated, “we have no problem with anyone selling anything, as long as they follow the rules.”
However, fishing boat owners praised the decision. “[T]his is part of San Francisco’s history," said Pennisi. "I’d hate for it to be gone.”
Never miss a story.
Subscribe today to get Hoodline delivered straight to your inbox.