Want to support San Diego’s shrinking local commercial fishing industry? Tommy Gomes will show you how.

Tommy Gomes has done his fair share of time at sea as a fourth generation commercial fisherman. Now, at 60, he’s dedicating much of his time and energy to raising awareness about San Diego’s local fishing community and how to get and eat fresh-caught fish.

After leaving commercial fishing behind, Gomes worked his way up from fish cutter to fishmonger at Catalina Offshore Products. He’s became such a well known face and advocate that he landed a TV show on the Outdoor channel called “The Fishmonger.”

After some pandemic-related delays, Gomes is planning to open a retail and wholesale fish market later this year, partnering with Mitch Conniff, owner of Point Loma’s Mitch’s Seafood, promoting and selling fresh-caught fish from around San Diego. He joined the Name Drop San Diego podcast to talk about where the local fishing industry is now and what he hopes to teach people.

Read excerpts of the conversation below or listen to the interview on the podcast player above or on any of these podcast apps:

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On what it means to be from a fishing family:

You grow up in the fishing community and you’re destined. If you didn’t go to school, you ended up on a boat or in the industry in some form.

On how fishing has changed in his lifetime:

We need to support our local fishermen. There are not many commercial fishermen left in California. … Electronics have taken away our tradition, our heritage and our sea time. You don’t need crusty old fishermen. You need somebody that knows how to run the electronics and computer systems and things like that. Industrialized fishing has changed as well. Artisanal fishing, small boat operation, family-owned and operated boats — those have been pushed out. We’re trying to hold on to the few that are remaining in California, Oregon and Washington because it’s important. And they bring in the best fish. They go out for shorter trips, they bring in the best fish. My tagline is, good seafood’s not cheap and cheap seafood’s not good. If your fish has more frequent fliers on it than your American Airlines credit card, you’re not doing the American fisherman any good. We’re being pounded with foreign fish that is unregulated, overfished, unreported and, a lot of time, illegal. We want people to know where their seafood comes from, know the country of origin and, in our case in San Diego, we want you to come down and meet the fishermen. It’s super cool. If we can tell the story and it gets passed down again and again and again, it’ll never die. I’m one of the last ones. I’m 60 years old, there are very few young kids coming up through the ranks anymore. Once guys like me are gone, all these stories are gone.

On what kind of fresh fish is caught around San Diego:

There are dozens and dozens of different rock fish. They’re all different and they all taste good. A one and a half or two pound rock fish, most people want to fillet it because they want to make fish tacos and I’m just like, no! Eat the whole fish! You’re an adult. Play with your food. Get in there and eat that whole thing. Bake it, barbecue it, deep fry it, but don’t fillet it, because you get two tacos out of it where if you eat the whole fish, a two-pound fish will feed two people with rice and a salad and some vegetables and you’ve got a great meal. Yellow tail. White sea bass. Mackerel. Anchovies. The big fish eat the small fish, why aren’t we eating the small fish? Hashtag eat bait. We’ll say, try these live mackerel and people go, oh I don’t eat bait. And I say, neither do I. I eat mackerel. They’re great on a barbecue and stuff. We just need to re-educate people on what to eat when it comes to sea food. Think about this. … You shop by the season for your fruits and vegetables. Why don’t you shop for your seafood by the season? If it’s summer time and the yellow tail are running, buy yellow tail. … Get in the game and try to earn as much as you can about what’s in season. … You have halibut and in and along the beach like off Black’s Beach and Del Mar and stuff you have corbina with a “b” and corvina with a “v,” you have all kinds of cool stuff going on right here in our backyard.

Best movie or TV show involving the ocean:

Anything put on by Jacques Cousteau

Favorite seafood to cook at home:

Believe it or not, it’s wild, troll-caught king salmon because it only comes around at a certain time of year.