At Port San Luis in Avila Beach, fishermen and women are now able to sell their fresh catch directly off the pier in a new "Fishermen's Market" pilot program.
Customers started lining up early Wednesday afternoon along Harford Pier for a chance to get some fresh fish and crab just caught by Central Coast fishers.
Tom from Paso Robles drove down to get some halibut. He had a colorful explanation on why he prefers his fish fresh instead of frozen.
“It’s just so much better than the store," Tom said. "You see the ones in the store and their eyes are all glazed over, they're like 'I've been dead for years.' But this just came out today!”
Port San Luis Harbor District recently approved a pilot program to offer the fish market a few days a week. Commercial fisher Danny Morton said this market is a relief, after all three of the retail fish markets on the pier closed this year.
“Those were all markets that were buying from me, so I was directly impacted," Morton said. "It was a rough year but this is going to be a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Crabber Tom Capen said it’s also been a rough year for crab fishermen. Crab season was delayed by several weeks over fears of whale entanglement, and then delayed again due to price negotiations between crabbers and processing companies. On top of that is the pandemic.
“The pandemic started in March and we were losing our restaurants, and retail fish markets weren’t buying because nobody was out," Capen said. "So it's long overdue.”
Capen said buying directly from fishers will also benefit customers when it comes to saving money.
"It’s a better price than you are going to pay at a traditional retail fish market," Capen said. "Because you’re buying directly from the fishermen.”
The market is offered at the end of the pier Wednesdays from 1 to 4 p.m., and on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 am to 4 p.m. For now it is cash and Venmo only.