NEWPORT — Availability of fresh fish is arguably one of the best perks of living on the Oregon coast, and it really can’t get much fresher than buying directly from a commercial fisherman.
But for many people, navigating Newport’s commercial fishing docks can be daunting.
Thanks to the popular Shop at the Dock tour, a program of Oregon Sea Grant and Oregon State University Extension, locals and visitors can learn the ropes, or fishing lines, on a guided tour.
“If you don’t know what you are looking for, or even what you are looking at, it can be intimidating,” said Angee Doerr, OSU Extension marine fisheries specialist and coordinator of Newport’s Shop at the Dock. “There are so many different types of vessels and even though Port Docks 3, 5 and 7 are open to the public, many people feel out of place if they are just wandering around.”
The Shop at the Dock tour gives participants the opportunity to not only learn how to navigate their way around the docks but also learn about the different types of vessels, what they fish for, sustainability, how seafood is caught and how to buy it directly from the fishermen selling it off their boats.
Started as a community outreach program in 2014, the Shop at the Dock tour is popular with local community members and tourists alike. This year’s tours are scheduled at 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. for five Fridays, starting July 23 and ending on Aug. 20. The 90-minute tours begin on the sidewalk by the newly rebuilt Dock 5 in the Port of Newport
“It’s an opportunity for people to learn more about commercial fishing, which is huge in our culture, social systems and our economy,” Doerr said. “Much of what you’ll learn is not taught in regular classes.”
In 2018, the popular event expanded to Garibaldi, where a tour of a local seafood processing facility was added. This year, Shop at the Dock in Garibaldi won’t be scheduled until the fall at the earliest.
Each tour will be limited to about 12 people. The tours are offered on a first-come, first-served basis, and there is no need to pre-register. However, anyone wanting to attend with a larger group should contact Doerr directly to set up a time for the tour.
The event will be held rain or shine, so Doerr advises planning ahead. Wear comfortable shoes with a good tread and arrive early to find parking.
On the day of the tour, Doerr will have an informational sheet of who is selling what fish where and the pricing. There will also be details on the retail stores that carry fresh caught fish.
Albacore tuna will be in season during the tour time, and participants may also find salmon, rockfish, lingcod and possibly halibut for sale. If you plan on buying locally harvested seafood, bring cash — since most fishermen don’t accept cards — and a cooler with ice.
“If people want to buy fish during the tour, they need to know they will be buying a whole fish,” she said. “There will be someone nearby who can filet the fish.” Having a professional filet the fish yields more meat than an average person can get ,according to Doerr, but expect to pay more per pound if the fish is filleted.
Doerr asks participants to be flexible. “We work directly with the fishermen, but every tour is different,” she said. “What they have or won’t have depends on their catch that day.”
For more information or to register a large group, contact Doerr at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-648-6816.