Tuna Harbor Dockside Market

As a twenty-four year old, third-generation fisher, I have watched the ebb and flow of the commercial fishing industry evolve with the countless changes we continue to endure. 

On any given Saturday, 52 weeks out of the year, you can find a variety of San Diego’s fishers and their families hard at work at the Tuna Harbor Dockside Market (THDM). THDM was established in 2015 to provide a direct line for the consumers to their local fishermen. 

The market has allowed the public access to an assortment of locally caught species year-round. In the last six years, Tuna Harbor Dockside Market has bridged the gap between consumers and fishermen, allowing consumers to get to know their fishermen, and simultaneously allowing them to try new species. The market rotates through over 70 species of fish and shellfish that are caught seasonally in San Diego waters. We enjoy being able to talk to people about our favorite ways to clean and cook our catch. 

At THDM, the fishermen pride themselves in being able to continuously provide the freshest and best quality catch to the public. We are different than a grocery store, and on some occasions, our supplies may sometimes fall short of the demand, but we work long, hard days during the week to make sure we are bringing what we can to the market. 

By shopping at the market on a Saturday, you are directly supporting local fishing families. There are many factors that affect a day of fishing, including weather, fishing conditions, seasons, quotas, and more. It is important to remember that fishing doesn’t always mean catching. Sometimes the fishermen do not return to port with the level of anticipated catch. Regardless, they do their best to bring what they can directly to the consumer, all while following the strict regulations that keep our U.S fisheries sustainable. 

I work hard throughout the week to keep the public updated on our social media with species that are in season, which species will be available each Saturday (both online and in person), and with footage of our days on the water. We also like to share our own favorite recipes, and the recipes that our customers share with us. 

For the past year, a Saturday at the market has looked and operated differently due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As early as 6:30 AM, San Diegans start to line up for the market standing six feet apart. We know that lines are long, wait times can often exceed patience, and sometimes your favorite species can sell out.  In accordance with current city guidelines, we can allow 50 shoppers on the pier at a time, all customers must wear a mask, and the fishermen must handle the fish until it has been purchased. We have also implemented a curbside pickup and preorder system where customers can order ahead on our website. For details on our ordering system, please visit our website. 

We work with organizations such as Slow Fish, to create events for the public to engage with local chefs and fishermen. On Slow Fish ‘Seafood Saturdays’ we host cooking demos and tastings, and coming up in 2021, virtual cooking classes with these chefs will be available.  Since the middle of 2020, we have also been part of the Fish to Families program that works to buy fish from San Diego’s fishermen and creates meals that are distributed to people in need throughout San Diego. 

The fishermen at Tuna Harbor Dockside Market are grateful for the continued support of the public as we do our best to continue bringing our catch to your plates. 

This story originally appeared on the Fishful Future blog and has been republished here with permission from the author.

Jordyn Kastlunger is a third generation fisherman, operating publicity and relations for the San Diego Tuna Harbor Dockside Market, and is a seafood liaison with Slow Food Urban San Diego. Jordyn is currently currently a student at SDSU pursuing a major in Communications and a Minor in Sustainability.

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