Illegal Fish Selling on the Streets of San Francisco

San Francisco Bay - San Francisco, CA


by Jerry Back
2-26-2016
Website

Illegal Fish Selling on the Streets of San Francisco02/26/16 --  While walking through the heart of San Francisco’s Chinatown today, I spied an oldish-looking man sitting on the dirty sidewalk with his back against a bus shelter.  This was on Stockton Street--the central hub of all things edible in Chinatown.  Fish markets, poultry, pork, amphibians, crustaceans, fresh produce--you name it, if you can eat it, it’s on Stockton Street.


What specifically caught my eye was an approximately 36 inch California Halibut this man was holding.  It had already been partially filleted on one side--the other side still perfectly intact.  He was hawking cuts from the open and exposed fish to the passersby walking up and down the sidewalk.  The overall cleanliness of the sidewalk can be described “grimy” at best and the man, himself, looked like he could stand to wash his hands thoroughly for several minutes using professional-grade hand cleanser, as well.


Astonishingly, there were some actual takers of the halibut.  The man would slice off a chunk at the buyer’s request and put it in a plastic bag in exchange for money.  I snapped a couple of photos and quickly got back on my way. I’m not sure how the fish store just a few doors down felt about having someone hawk cuts of fish, but given the amount food-handling safety-related regulations a local business must adhere to, as well as the general overhead and expense of running a business in San Francisco, illegal street sales of locally caught fish must really be irksome.  It certainly was a caveat emptor (i.e., “buyer beware”) proposition for any of the buyers of this particular fish.  Again, would any part of this fish constitute a bargain?  I don’t think so.


Now, I did truly feel for the guy as he clearly had fallen on hard times, appeared to be homeless, and was just trying to earn a few dollars from the sale of this fine-looking California Halibut.  At the same time, the overall fishery would not be sustainable if people thought the San Francisco Bay was simply a giant aquarium that one could simply pull out fish and crab to then turn the catch around and sell for a quick buck.  I did inquire with a local Fish & Game officer to see if this kind of activity was of interest and apparently it was.  This particular officer I talked to did set out to find the fish hawker, but I later learned, had arrived too late.  Hawker and fish (if any was still left unsold) were long gone.  There are surely more stories on the streets of San Francisco.  If they involve fish, or any other underwater creature, I’ll try and get you the scoop.

Jerry Back is a television research executive residing in San Francisco, California. Other outdoor interests include fishing for Striped Bass (a.k.a., “stripers”) and anything else he can catch on the beaches of San Francisco. Jerry can be contacted at jerry.back@gmail.com.
Jerry also wrote an article for MyOutdoor Buddy titled "How to Catch Dungeness Crab with Rod and Reel," which can be found here.

Jerry Back is a television research executive residing in San Francisco, California. Other outdoor interests include fishing for Striped Bass (a.k.a., “stripers”) and anything else he can catch on the beaches of San Francisco. Jerry can be contacted at jerry.back@gmail.com.

Jerry also wrote an article for MyOutdoor Buddy titled "How to Catch Dungeness Crab with Rod and Reel," which can be found here.  An archive of his recent articles published on NorCal.Fishreports.com can be found here.


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