A Fish By Any Other Name

Many of us appreciate the value of eating foods harvested close to our homes. Fresh local foods are often more nutritious, they come with lower carbon emission price tags because they don’t need to be flown or trucked in, and they just taste better.

In Santa Barbara we are especially lucky as we have access to wide variety of fresh local foods that come from the sea just offshore of our community. This is a privilege that fishermen in town have worked hard to keep sustainable and that our families get to enjoy. I was displeased to see City Attorney Ariel Calonne taking steps to impede sustained access to this healthy source of local foods by rescinding permission for Santa Barbara Fish Market to run its operation that readies locally caught seafood for market.

Fish may not smell like a fresh basket of strawberries from the farmers market. But we can’t celebrate the benefits of having nutritious, affordable, local seafood in our town and turn up our noses at the work it takes to get that fresh fish on our plates. What really stinks is the prospect of having to substitute a fresh fillet of halibut or white seabass from the Channel Islands with a frozen block of foreign fish that may have been farmed or harvested unsustainably and was shipped halfway around the world to get to Santa Barbara.

I strongly urge the City Attorney and the City Council not to shut down our ability to make local seafood ready for sale in our community but rather to search for reasonable ways to make keep the process of providing local foods a neighborly business.

Dr. Douglas McCauley is an assistant professor at Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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