(Newport, Oregon) – If you’ve ever wanted to head down to the Oregon coast and buy seafood straight from a boat you were probably hit by the same mental roadblocks and questions as many. What to look for? What questions to ask? Where exactly can I go on the docks? What is local? What is in season?
This summer provides those answers with more of a quickly-growing program that is doing a great job of demystifying the process. Shop at the Dock takes place in Newport this month, and one date in Warrenton in September.
In Newport, the tours happen August 4, 11 and 18. Groups depart from dock 5 at 9:30 a.m., 10 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. each day. The 90-minute tours are free and on a first-come, first-served basis. In Newport, registration is required only for groups of five or more by calling 541-574-6534 ext. 57427.
In Warrenton, the next tour takes place September 15, 2017, at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. and will include a look around the Skipanon Brand Seafood cannery as well as dock walk. Those attending will also learn what local markets sell locally-caught seafood. Tours will begin at the Warrenton Marina near the harbormaster’s office at 550 N.E. Harbor Place. For the Warrenton event, registration by phone is required for everyone and is on a first-come, first-served basis. To register, call 503-325-8573.
Shop at the Dock directly connects seafood lovers with fishermen. Started in 2014 by Oregon Sea Grant and Extension, it just expanded this year beyond its home base of Newport. During these tours, participants learn what seafood is in season, how it’s caught, whether it’s sustainable, and how to identify and buy high-quality fish and shellfish.
For both locales, participants are advised to wear comfortable walking shoes with traction, arrive 15 minutes early, and bring cash and a cooler with ice. For disability accommodations, call the information numbers.
The tours in Newport are led by Kaety Jacobson, an Oregon Sea Grant marine fisheries specialist with Oregon State University’s Extension Service. She has in the past referred to this program as: “It’s like going down to the docks with a friend who knows the seafood – and knows the fishermen.”
After a decade of research and conversations with buyers and seller came the realization that many consumers were hesitant to hit the docks on their own. Sea Grant also heard why. Jacobson said consumers felt fearful and intimidated; the many safety warning signs and “keep out” signs didn’t help.
Then in the summer of 2014, Sea Grant decided to try the first “Shop at the Dock” series to try and further that connection between shopper and ship. A burst of media exposure helped kick it into life, although numbers were still low. It was enough to inspire a second try the following year, however, and the program has been growing ever since.
The five walks the following summer brought in 40 to 70 shoppers, and tours were added – led by the operator of a floating seafood-market barge. They even started having some overcrowding issues on the docks and began breaking up tours into several groups and times.
The program has continued growing ever since.
Shop at the Dock takes place this month at Newport’s Bayfront area, starting at dock 5.