Shop Local, Sustainable Seafood: A Quick Guide to the Tuna Harbor Dockside Market

By Felicia Campbell | Last Updated February 24, 2018
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Tuna Harbor Dockside Market is no ordinary fish market. Here's a quick guide and a little history about San Diego's local, sustainable, boat-to-consumer seafood destination.

We are all familiar with the joys of the farmers market, where you can learn about the produce and artisan products you're buying from the ones who spend their days growing and producing it. And, in a coastal county with so much oceanic bounty, it's only appropriate that we should have a fisherman's market, where we can shop seasonaly for shellfish, fish, and aquafarmed seaweed direct from the fishermen who employ sustainable fishing practices, with minimal carbon footprints. 

Despite our proximity to the sea, this wasn't always an option. The market opened only a few years ago, representing a true revival of a local, direct-to-consumer fishing industry, which had, in many ways, lied dormant during the decades since the deminse of the local tuna canning industry in the early 1980s. And this market has become so much more than a place to pick-up some black cod or spot prawns for dinner.

 

During Your Visit

The Tuna Harbor Dockside Market, quite litterally located out on a long dock off the Embarcadero, is an interactive experience where the friendly fisherman are as interested in education as they are in sales. On a visit to the market, stop to ask the vendors about thier fresh catches, fishing techniques, and the best way to cook your seafood of choice.

Take your goods to the cutting booth and have your fish professionally butchered for a paltry 50 cents a pound or $5 for "anything big". Be sure to ask them to throw the head in your bag, too, they're great for making flavorful fish stock.

Visit the educational tent to learn everything from cooking and butchering techniques to conservation of the ocean. 

And, we can't stress this enough, do not leave without getting a sandwich or taco from Loaf and Fish. They use whatever was caught fresh that day, grill it, and stuff it into tacos or soft buns along with fresh vegetables, avocado, fish and sauces like chipotle mayo or their legendary ghost pepper hot sauce. 

  

Planning Your Visit

It's best to get there just before they open shop at 8am to get first dibs on the fresh catch, plus, the metered parking doesn't kick in until 10am. If you can't roust yourself that early on a Saturday, the benefit of stopping by just before closing time is the chance to score some deep discounts on the remaining fish that need to be sold by the end of the day. 

Tuna Harbor Dockside Market | 879 West Harbor Drive, San Diego | Every Saturday, 8am-1pm

Get to Know Your Seafood Market

Shopping this market is a concrete way to support local, sustainable aquaculture and fishing, and it makes for a really fun morning. There's no better way to build community than to get out and talk to local producers. Learn more about the history of the market, and some of it's most iconic fishermen in the below articles.

Tuna Harbor Dockside Market Reinvigorates San Diego Fishing Industry

kid holding large fish
A coalition of dedicated fishermen are working to preserve the San Diego fishing industry. One way is by establishing a market presence: the Tuna Harbor Dockside Market.

The Majors, a Fishing Family

Dan Major fishes box crab. And whelk and octopus. Also California spiny lobster, black cod, and blackgill rockfish. Plus the bigger stuff...

What Will Be the Future of the Tuna Harbor as the Seaport is Developed?

Fisherman at San Diego's tuna harbor
On April 13, the San Diego Food System Alliance's will present "The Future of Tuna Harbor" at the Port Pavilion on the Broadway Pier. What's this all about?
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