Santa Barbara Local Seafood

Post by Kim Selkoe, Executive Director of Commercial Fisherman of Santa Barbara

What would Santa Barbara be without our vibrant harbor?

Our working waterfront is one more way that Santa Barbara amazingly pulls off a timeless authenticity that is matched by few American coastal cities. You may not realize that our small but mighty fishing fleet brings in the most diverse array of seafood of anywhere on the West Coast, maybe even the country.  The Santa Barbara Channel and it’s Islands provides a breadbasket of seafood, with harvest strictly managed for environmental sustainability.  The Channel is an oceanographic transition zone where the cold waters north of Point Conception mix with the warm waters of Southern California, resulting in a complex system of water currents and a diversity of northern and southern ocean species. More than 50 species are harvested here in total!  Roughly 100 small-boat fishermen working out of the Santa Barbara harbor catch 6-10 million pounds of seafood annually, bringing in $30 million in economic benefit to the local community.

Thanks to a tipping point in food culture, there is a new wave of understanding of how critical it is to support local food production, reduce food miles, find eco-friendly protein and fair-trade supply. Eating local seafood is an integral part of achieving all of these things, and critical to keeping our working waterfront thriving.

Want more local Seafood?

Ask for local seafood in your grocery store and restaurants, and call them on it when they try to pass off imported seafood as local, which is unfortunately not always easy to do.  To get the freshest catch and best prices, along with great prep tips and recipes, visit the Saturday Fisherman’s Market, 7am – 11am out on the Commercial Pier (opposite Brophy’s). The Santa Barbara Fish Market also has a variety of local items, 7 days a week, and supplies local seafood to Lazy Acres, Whole Foods and a few other grocery stores.

Many items are only available at certain times of year, but rockfish, halibut, black cod, spot prawn and several types of crab are mainstays year round. Summer and fall see the biggest hauls of white sea bass, tuna, squid, and anchovy. Winter brings spiny lobster, swordfish, sardines, ridgeback shrimp, and the best urchin. Santa Barbara is also home to eco-friendly farming of oysters, mussels and abalone.

Visit to find out more.