Speaker Atkins’ Pacific to Plate Bill Passes Senate

A bill by Speaker Toni G. Atkins that would make it easier for communities to hold outdoor markets that feature locally sourced seafood – similar to farmers markets – passed the Senate floor today. AB 226, the Pacific to Plate bill, would keep red tape from preventing consumers from buying seafood directly from the local men and women who caught it.

“As we’ve seen by the massive growth of farmers markets across the state, allowing direct sales of produce benefits farmers and consumers,” said Speaker Atkins (D-San Diego). “These small-business owners and coastal communities throughout California deserve these same opportunities. Pacific to Plate does this by removing unnecessary hurdles in state law.”

The Pacific to Plate bill allows fishermen’s markets to operate as food facilities and fresh fish to be cleaned for direct sale, and it streamlines the permitting process so that commercial fishermen can organize under a single permit—just like certified farmers markets.

“The success of San Diego’s own Tuna Harbor Dockside Market shows that people want access to fresh and sustainable seafood,” said County Supervisor Greg Cox, whose efforts last year aided in the launch of the market, the first of its kind locally. “This legislation will make it easier for fishermen to open more dockside markets in San Diego County and throughout the state.”

The Pacific to Plate bill also establishes guidelines, including compliance with the California Retail Food Code and food-safety requirements.

San Diego’s market celebrated its anniversary in August. It has expanded to include 17 vendors selling their catch, made up of 22 species caught in local waters, including swordfish, yellowtail, squid and white sea bass.

“This law that streamlines the establishment and functioning of fishermen’s markets will benefit the environment, fishermen and consumers,” said Peter Halmay, one of the founders of the Tuna Harbor market.