Real Good Fish
Finalist, Seafood Champion Awards Innovation Category
Alan Lovewell is the founder and CEO of Real Good Fish, a community-supported fishery in California’s Monterey Bay. In 2012, Alan started Bay2Tray, providing low-income schoolchildren nutritious meals by utilizing bycatch in the local black cod fishery.
In school districts like Monterey Peninsula and Oakland Unified, approximately 30 to 70 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced meals. This means that many of these children are living at or below the poverty line. Public schools have only $1.25 per student for lunch, including milk. The only seafood they can afford are imported farmed fish or fish that’s traveled thousands of miles with no connection to local fishers.
Inspired, Alan started sourcing a local fish that’s usually discarded because it has no market. “This fish is a delicious, mild, flaky white fish caught in the deep canyons of Monterey Bay, called grenadier. It’s the bycatch, or unintended catch, of the black cod fishery. It’s normally thrown back in the water dead, a complete waste.” Bay2Tray pays the fishermen, has the fish filleted locally, and sells it to local schools.
By purchasing directly from fishers seafood that has been pre-sold, the fishery eliminates waste in the supply chain. Real Good Fish provides complete transparency for all the members, who are fully informed on where, how, and when the fish was caught. There’s no waste, local fishermen are supported, and members learn about the ocean and changing conditions through their weekly seafood. Real Good Fish also provides an educational experience by sending fishers into classrooms to teach kids about the ocean, fishing and health. “Bay2Tray celebrates and empowers our community to cultivate the next generation of social and environmental stewards,” says Alan.
Alan’s initiatives are inspiring similar movements across the country. “Both the CSF and Bay2Tray are models that can be replicated,” says Alan. “We’ve had university students, entrepreneurs and others contact us about how to start a community-supported fishery.”