Testing the Feasibility of Urban Coastal Direct Seafood Markets

Project Goals

With a grant from Collaborative Fisheries Research West and the Ocean Protection Council, we set out to identify the barriers to getting locally sourced seafood from our waters to our plates. We are meeting this goal through four objectives: (1.) determine the public demand and feasible supply of seafood needed to operate a dockside market, of which there are two proposed. (2.) Identify the main limitations to the public consuming (more) seafood in order to prioritize efforts that will address each limitation. (3.) Raise public awareness of the local fishing industry and diversity of products by connecting the public and the fishing community through discussions and demonstrations at the survey events. (4.) Identify species of emerging public interest in order to plan for collaborations that will collect scientific data and develop management strategies before demand increases.


We held a seafood tasting event at Tuna Harbor on 9/7/2013 for San Diego’s foodie public. Chefs, scientists, seafood producers (fishermen & aquaculturists) and nutritionists introduced all aspects of local species, and 142 participants provided information about their food and shopping habits, and what they would like in local seafood sales.  We then interviewed 20 fishermen on 12/16 and 12/17/2013 to identify potential supplies of seafood and barriers inhibiting the fishermen from selling directly to the public.  A summary of results is presented here including 1) evidence of direct market demand, 2) barriers to direct sales, and 3) suggestions for overcoming barriers for both the public and producers.

Synopsis of Findings

  1. There is a supply and demand for San Diego seafood and for direct markets, but the public and producers are out of sync as far as preferences and availability of product.
  2. Barriers to the public can be overcome by raising awareness of San Diego’s seafood producers and their products, increasing product accessibility, and building grassroots support of San Diego’s seafood community.
  3. Overcoming seafood producer’s barriers requires collaboration within their community, higher-level support, and grassroots economic and political support.

Our seafood habits and preferences (1st cart) are out of sync with what is available locally (2nd cart). Increasing familiarity with local species can lead to more adventurousness and changed habits!