Meet the Fishermen

Learn more about the captains of the California Groundfish Collective who are collaborating and adapting their businesses to help create healthier oceans and stronger fishing businesses in their communities.

 

Fort Bragg

The F/V Blue Pacific
Captain Brian Jourdain

Brian Jourdain has always called Fort Bragg his home port. Brian began fishing in 1990, as a deckhand on the 56 foot wooden Blue Pacific, which was at the time owned by his father-in-law and captained by Tommy Estes. In 1993, Tommy starting working on the Tara Dawn, giving Brian the opportunity to work his way up to Captain of the Blue Pacific. In 2000, Brian and his wife, Brenda, bought the Blue Pacific from her dad, and they have been managing the fishing business ever since. Brian and Brenda’s son, Joey, now joins him on the Blue Pacific, making Joey the fourth generation of men in his family to work in this fishery out of Fort Bragg. Over the years, Brian has fished for crab, salmon, pink shrimp, albacore, and has trawled for groundfish and today only fishes for sablefish with traps. Brian is currently volunteering to operate under an experimental fishing permit to help inform industry and management.

The F/V Donna J
Captain Charlie Price

Charlie Price, a Fort Bragg native, started fishing in 1979 on the Golden Chalice and has been fishing ever since. Charlie sees fishing as more of a way of life than a job. He has tried out a few things along the way, like logging and carpentry, but has always found his way back to fishing. He has worked in the Alaska crab, albacore, groundfish trawl, and long-line fisheries. Over the years, Charlie worked on several smaller boats before he was hired on as a skipper on the Donna J, a 68 foot vessel built in 1979 in Fort Bragg. Captain Charlie has been running the Donna J for 15 years now, and prides himself on setting the highest standard of care for the seafood he harvests. Charlie is a family man, spending his free time with his wife, two children, and grandchildren. He is currently volunteering to operate under an experimental fishing permit to help inform industry and management.

The F/V Tara Dawn
Captain Tommy Estes

Tommy Estes is a third-generation fisherman out of Fort Bragg. Tommy began fishing at a young age, making his first big fishing trip when he was seven, when he went with his dad to Queen Charlotte Island in Canada to fish for albacore. He continued to fish for groundfish, crab, pink shrimp, and albacore over the years. After his father retired as Captain, Tommy began skippering his boat, the Tara Dawn, which was built in 1975 in Fort Bragg’s Noyo Harbor by his father and uncle. Now Captain of the Tara Dawn, Tommy is also building a new boat, the Noyo Dawn, which is expected to launch sometime next year and will be used for groundfish trawling, catching Dungeness crab, and shrimping. Captain Tommy continues to look toward the future of fishing by being a part of the CGC to improve ocean habitats, fisheries and fishing businesses.

The F/V Verna Jean
Captain Vince Doyle

Vince Doyle grew up in Bodega Bay and has spent most of his fishing years fishing throughout the central coast, in Monterey, Half Moon Bay, and Bodega Bay. Vince is extremely knowledgeable about the historic use of fishing grounds in these areas and acts as a resource by volunteering his knowledge and expertise to better the fishery economically and environmentally. Today, he calls Noyo his home port, participating in crab and groundfish trawl fisheries. He is very active in the groundfish fishery, collaborating with multiple stakeholders to better inform the industry and management, and is also an active member of the Crab Task Force. Vince is married with children and his hobbies include spending time on his ranch, horseback riding and hunting.

 

Half Moon Bay

 

The Moriah Lee
Captain Geoff Bettencourt

Geoff Bettencourt is a fourth-generation Point Pillar Harbor commercial fisherman. Geoff began fishing salmon with his grandfather and father before he was tall enough to see over the boat’s railing. In high school, he continued to fish for salmon and crab and trawling for rockfish, halibut, and sole. Geoff and his Dad bought the Moriah Lee in 1997 to continue fishing for Dungeness crab, groundfish, and salmon. Although Geoff started out heavily invested in the bottom trawl fishery, he has taken the business in a new direction by embracing sustainable fishing and undergoing a major gear shift to environmentally-friendly traps for black cod. Geoff realizes he has many years ahead of him and the only way to both protect the resource and secure his family’s future is to combine that old school honor & wisdom with a progressive modern approach to the future of fishing.

The Mr. Morgan
Captain Steve Fitz

Steve Fitz is a second generation fisherman and captain of the family-run fishing vessel, Mr. Morgan, out of Pillar Point Harbor. Steve grew up in Massachusetts, where he watched his father and uncle return from Georges Bank with abundant loads of cod. Steve followed in their footsteps, working summers and winter breaks during college to help finance his tuition and earn a degree in business. After 25 years and multiple fisheries, the Mr. Morgan has become his passion. Today, Mr. Morgan is believed to be the only vessel left in the United States using Scottish seines, a method that is considered to be environmentally-friendly and harvests high-quality sand dabs, sole, halibut, and rockfish for the local markets.

 

Morro Bay

 

The F/V Brita Michelle
Captain Bill Blue

Bill Blue moved to Morro Bay in 1974 after graduating high school in southern California. Sport fishing with his dad while growing up had given him a love for the ocean and the dream of owning his own boat. Walking the docks in the afternoon for a couple of weeks, he finally found work on a crab boat. For the next two years he was mentored by two long time Morro Bay fishermen, Fred Cefalu and Al French. They taught him what hard work and commitment was all about. In 1977 Bill bought his first boat. Forty years later, Bill is still pursuing his dream, fishing for black cod, Dungeness crab and rockfish using pots and longlines up and down the California coast. Bill’s family is still sharing the dream and his youngest son, Scott works with him on their boat the F.V. Brita Michelle.

 

 

All photography © Corey Arnold.