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.
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.
Half Moon Bay
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.
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, sand dabs, halibut, and sole, going full-time into fishing in the early 90’s. As the fishery has changed, the family business has adapted, embracing and advocating for conservation minded sustainable fisheries management, undergoing a major gear shift to traps for black cod, upgrading vessels and equipment, and recently returning to trawling on his fishing vessel the Miss Moriah as well. Geoff believes that 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 F/V Moriah Lee
Captain Kyle Pemberton
Kyle Pemberton is the newest member of the California Groundfish Collective. Kyle worked for years as a deckhand on fishing vessels in Half Moon Bay, and recently moved to Morro Bay to start and run his own trawl fishing operation. Kyle is committed to running his business in line with goals of the CGC such as engaging in collaborative fisheries research and using sustainable fishing practices to help foster healthy fisheries, oceans, and port communities.
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.