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Politics

Supervisors Seek Sacramento Cure For Fish Market Permitting

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to have lobbyists work on state legislators to get them to amend rules that would make it easier for a permanent open-air seafood market to flourish in San Diego.

The Tuna Harbor Dockside Market, which opened in August, sold an average of 1.1 tons of fresh seafood each week, worth about $15,000.

Supervisor Greg Cox said the market had been "wildly successful" and averaged about 350 visitors each Saturday.

"This shows there is a public demand for access to a locally caught sustainable source of fresh seafood," Cox said.

Local efforts to open a seafood market were delayed by "red tape" until county and port officials stepped in to help it operate on a temporary basis, he said.

Cox said allowing permanent fish markets could help revive San Diego's once-thriving commercial fishing industry. San Diego's fishing fleet is less than half of what it was in the 1980s.

Among Cox's ideas are designating fishermen's markets as food facilities under the state's Retail Food Code, which he said would create "certainty in the permitting process for groups of fishermen who want to sell their catch directly to consumers."

It also would: — exempt fish cleaning from the definition of food preparation; — establish a chapter in the state code for fishermen's markets; — specify operational requirements, modeled after those for farmers markets, to enable commercial fishermen and aquaculturists to organize under a single permit holder for the market; — and allow permanent open-front seafood markets with limited food preparation.

"San Diego has a rich and vibrant fishing history and we need to revive our local fishing industry," Cox said. "With these proposals, we can create more jobs and feed more families with fish caught fresh out of local waters."

The Board of Supervisors has lobbyists in Sacramento to help advance its agenda.