Unless you or a friend is personally doing the catching, it has been tough in recent years for Del Norters to get their hands on fresh-caught rockcod, despite the fact that our coastal waters are prime catching grounds.
Kenyon Hensel is looking to make fresh fish availible to local residents. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
Commercial fisherman Kenyon Hensel is trying to fix that.
Hensel, a fisherman based in Crescent City for 30 years, is offering a five-week subscription of two pounds of rockcod each week starting May 1.
“If it works the way I want it to, you’re going to get the fillets the day that they are caught,” Hensel said.
On Friday, Hensel set up at Wild Rivers Market to sign people up for “fishscriptions” and explain the service. He will again be at Wild Rivers Market from 3:30 to 6 p.m. today.
Hensel plans to use the money made from the “fishscriptions” to fund a local seafood storefront, and those who sign up will have their name on the wall of Hensel’s Seafood and Deli as a founding patron.
“I have dreamed of providing fish to our community on the day it’s caught and I’m almost ready to realize my dream,” states Hensel’s advertisement for the subscription service.
Hensel recalled a time when shipping trucks filed into the harbor to be loaded with rockcod and boats were lined up to unload their catch.
But in 2003, when Congress authorized the $46 million buyback program that permanently removed 239 groundfish trawl permits from operation, a local supply of rockcod in Crescent City dried up.
Hensel said that the handful of commercial fishermen based in Crescent City that target near-shore rockfish typically sell their fish live to markets in San Francisco.
Fishermen could potentially sell their rockfish locally in the harbor, but “dock politics” makes that a risky transaction for fishermen, Hensel said.
Some seafood buyers will stop purchasing from a particular fishermen if they find out that the fishermen is not exclusively selling to the buyer.
“The buyer might quit buying. Now you have nowhere to go,” Hensel said.
With “fishscriptions” and a future seafood and deli storefront in his eyes, Hensel hopes that “dock politics” will no longer keep fresh-caught fish from the local community in Del Norte County.
For more information, call Hensel at 707-951-8011.