Like farmers, restaurateurs, brewers, and winemakers, fishermen who rely on selling direct to consumers and restaurants are reinventing their business models during the COVID-19 outbreak. Door-to-door delivery is the current answer, so now residents of Santa Barbara County can order fresh shrimp, halibut, black cod, and so much more to be dropped off at their homes. In addition to Get Hooked, an existing seafood service that is also currently delivering via GetHookedSeafood.com, the fishermen themselves are now driving their catch to you.
Stephanie Mutz, the well-known urchin diver behind Sea Stephanie Fish, is spearheading the effort. She answered a few of my questions about the service this week.
How is the virus affecting your community?
We are fishermen who sold our seafood directly to restaurants and consumers. Since most restaurants are shut down or takeout only, it took away 80 percent of our business. Even sea urchin processors and many fish buyers are shut down and not buying seafood. Essentially, overnight, our markets dried up. We want to provide a protein source to our community. We still want to go to work! We also need people to stay home so we home deliver.
How many fishermen are you working with?
I have a receiver’s license with Fish and Wildlife, which allows me to buy seafood from other fishermen and sell that catch to the public. Harry Liquornik and I still catch and sell the sea urchin, fish from Travis Meyer, abalone from the Cultured Abalone, ridgeback shrimp from Jeff Hepp, Hope Ranch mussels from Bernard Friedman, oysters from Morro Bay Oyster Co., and crab from Garrett Rose.
There are many S.B. commercial fishermen who are now direct marketing. We are fishing and selling to each other to sell to people sheltering in place.
What types of seafood are being delivered right now?
Red and purple sea urchin
Whitefish, halibut, thornyheads whole and gutted
Hope Ranch mussels
Morro Bay oysters
Whole rock crab and rock crab claws
Spot prawns (very limited).
We are also offering farm produce boxes from local farmers to help get their products off the farms and into homes. We are more of a one-stop shop, and we don’t increase farmers’ prices. If you want a farm box from Santa Ynez Valley and seafood, you can get both.
Where and when are you delivering?
We are delivering Fridays and Saturdays and when any seafood is available and needed from consumers. We deliver Ventura to Santa Maria and anywhere in between. There’s a $50 minimum order for delivery.
What is the best way for people to order?
Text (805) 708-4969 to find out seafood availability at the moment. You might have to wait a day or two for us to catch the seafood, as we provide the freshest product and oftentimes sell out.