WARRENTON — The first ever “Shop the Dock” tours in Clatsop County highlighted Warrenton’s seafood offerings.
Despite the area’s long history of fishing and seafood processing — and even though the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean are right there — how to actually lay hands on freshly caught seafood can be a mystery for many residents without ties to the commercial fishing industry.
The tour Friday was intended to show people what’s available and where.
“I’m glad to know that we can do it,” said Lisa Reid, owner of Lucy’s Books in downtown Astoria. She and her husband can their own tuna, but have long been interested in buying directly from fishermen.
Plus, she added: “It’s a field trip, and I’m always up for a field trip.”
Amanda Gladics of Oregon Sea Grant, who coordinated the two morning tours, said afterward that they had a great response from the community.
“I felt like we helped demystify commercial fisheries and successfully connected seafood consumers with high-quality local seafood,” she said.
The tour started on the docks at the Warrenton Marina where, under the watchful eye of several herons and at least one bald eagle, Gladics showed the group different types of fishing vessels and answered questions about how different fisheries, such as tuna, crab, black cod and salmon, operate.
For people looking to buy fish, she told them to look for a sign indicating a boat has fish to sell. She also told them what kinds of questions to ask: When was the fish caught? How was it kept cold?
The next stop was at nearby Skipanon Brand Seafood, a seafood processing plant and cannery owned by former Warrenton Mayor Mark Kujala and his family.
“Anyone here is welcome, if you get a fish at the docks, to bring it here,” said plant manager Bob Willkie. “Give me a call.”
The company will fillet or even can fish for customers for a fee.
The company also offers “Fish Friday.” Similar to community-supported agriculture boxes offered by farms, where customers pay for a regular delivery of produce, Fish Friday customers can sign up to get prime cuts of fish weekly.
“They get the best stuff we get in,” Willkie said.
By the end of the tour, several people had signed up for the service, too.
Unlike Newport, where such tours have been taking place since 2014, there are not as many fishermen selling directly from their boats in the Warrenton Marina. Gladics and Oregon Sea Grant hope to connect with fishermen who are planning to sell off their boats in September, when the next tour is scheduled. Fishermen are encouraged to contact Gladics at the Oregon Sea Grant office.
SHOP THE DOCK
The next tours will occur on Sept. 15 at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Each tour lasts about 90 minutes. Space is limited. Sea Grant asks those planning to attend to call the Oregon Sea Grant office at 503-325-8573 to register at least three days in advance.
The tours meet in the Warrenton Marina at 550 N.E. Harbor Place. Organizers recommend attendees wear comfortable walking shoes and arrive 15 minutes early.