The California Fisheries Fund closed a new loan last month that will help a family fishing business pass the torch to the next generation.
Steve Fitz, captain of the F/V Mr. Morgan, will continue his family tradition operating the only commercial fishing operation in the United States that uses Scottish Seine gear, a selective and eco-friendly way to catch groundfish. Steve’s loan from the CFF helped him buy the Mr. Morgan from his uncle and start up Mr. Morgan Fisheries, a fishing business based in Half Moon Bay, specializing in sustainably harvested groundfish and Dungeness crab.
Mr. Morgan Fisheries is known for its sand dabs, Petrale sole and chilipepper rockfish—all species sustainably-managed under a catch share program. Like all other participants in this catch share program, the Mr. Morgan receives an individual fishing quota for several groundfish species that may be harvested throughout the year, with requirements for full accountability of every pound of fish harvested, and a human observer on every fishing trip. These new fishing practices guarantee there is no overfishing and Steve can use that message to market his fish with the 100% Federal At-Sea Monitoring No Overfishing Guaranteed label.
Steve Fitz grew up fishing with his father in New England before moving west and graduating from University of Denver with a degree in business. About eighteen years ago, he moved out to Half Moon Bay, California, to fish with his uncle, eventually becoming the captain of the F/V Mr. Morgan in 2000.
The F/V Mr. Morgan is a beautiful 66-foot vessel originally built in Louisiana and transported out to California via the Panama Canal. The Fitz family has outfitted the vessel with Scottish seine gear each year for the groundfish season (usually spring through fall), and targeted Dungeness crab with traps each winter (usually November through February).
Since 2007, the Fitzes have been local leaders in sustainable fishing, participating in a program to identify overfished species “hot spots” to help fishermen avoid catching at-risk stocks. CFF’s loan to Steve Fitz is helping to preserve the presence of a family fishing operation that has become an important player in harvesting groundfish with selective gear in the historically and culturally important Half Moon Bay area.