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Get Hooked Seafood gets locals hooked on fresh fish

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Photo by David Hills
Santa Barbara fishermen prepare the next catch for Get Hooked Seafood.

 

Austin Widger, Ojai Valley News reporter
Get Hooked Seafood is a new way to catch local and sustainably sourced seafood in Ojai.
With a community drop point at Topa Topa Brewing Co., as well as home delivery, the fish is delivered fresh to customers just a couple of days after it is caught off the Ventura and Santa Barbara coast.
Get Hooked Owner and Chief Operations Manager Victoria Voss comes from a local commercial fishing family in Santa Barbara, and her business partner, Kim Selkoe, studied marine ecology at UC Santa Barbara.
“Community-supported fisheries started popping up (around the United States),” Voss said. “We are the only one operating in Santa Barbara. It operates like a farm box in that it’s a membership program. Everyone does it a bit differently … what we do is we buy from a lot of different fishermen and try to provide a variety in a weekly subscription. So we also limit the supply chain in that we’re buying directly from the boats. You know exactly where it comes from, what boat, what fishing method, etc. Just making sure that it’s super, super fresh.”
Voss and Selkoe said they found that 90 percent of the seafood that comes out of the Santa Barbara Channel is shipped overseas. One of the goals of Get Hooked is to make sure that local seafood is more accessible for locals.
The community-supported fishery model is successful when the public and infrastructure are there to support it, Voss said. “I think the public is really recognizing how important having a robust localized food system is in order to be resilient in times of crisis.”
The model also has a very positive impact on the environment, Voss said. There is a smaller carbon footprint because the seafood is traveling less distance. “The way that eating seafood makes some of the biggest impact is we’re not growing food, we’re not clearing land, we’re not growing food to feed our food,” Voss said.
For beef, pork and chicken, farmers have to grow around 50 calories per every calorie they get in return, which puts a tax on the environment. Wild-caught seafood has none of these impacts on water or land or resources. “Moving away from protein sources that have this high-caloric conversion ratio toward protein sources that have zero conversion ratio … there’s a lot of environmental sustainability benefit in that,” Voss said.

 

When a fish is caught, the Get Hooked crew shows up at the dock to weigh it and pay the fishermen. They then take it to be processed and portioned to meet the needs of their membership. 
It gets sent out just one to two days after being caught. “That’s generally our cycle,” Voss said. In a grocery store, the fish could be 10 days old, she said, explaining that “the fish is coming from overseas fresh, going through multiple middlemen before it arrives at the grocery store, and then sits in the case for a while.”
Along with receiving many different types of seafood, members can add beer, bread, locally made olive oils and vinegar to their order. “They can select out of things that they don’t want to receive,” Voss said. “They can select the number of people that they’re trying to feed. So there’s like customization from there and making sure that they’re getting what they want out of their subscription, out of their membership. And then we send them something different every week, or every other week, based on their preferences.”
Voss said that after tasting the freshness of Get Hooked Seafood, it is hard for her to even order seafood from a restaurant anymore. “The quality difference is crazy,” she said. “I can’t even tell you the number of people who say, ‘I just never knew fish could taste so fresh.’”

 

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