Food & Drink

South Florida’s first community fish market to open in Key West

Chris Holland, left, of Key West, with Dock to Dish founder Sean Barrett.
Chris Holland, left, of Key West, with Dock to Dish founder Sean Barrett.

Starting next week, Key West will be home to the state’s first community-supported fishery and seafood market.

Dock to Dish, which also operates in Montauk, New York, opens on Valentine’s Day at 3101 N. Roosevelt Blvd. with a rum-cocktail party for local fishermen and new customers.

“The real celebration is the celebration by the fishermen,” said Chris Holland, a Dock to Dish Key West co-founder and owner of Ibis Bay Waterfront Resort, home to seafood restaurant The Stoned Crab. “They now have this new outlet that respects what they do, promotes what they do.”

The members-only Dock to Dish operates like a community-supported agriculture program, where people buy in for weekly “shares” of a farm’s harvest. Except instead of getting farm-fresh produce, Dock to Dish’s members get pristine local fish and seafood.

Individuals or restaurants can buy memberships for anywhere from 2 pounds of fillets to 75 pounds of whole fish a week.

“We catch the best, freshest, healthiest seafood in the world,” Holland said.

While the weekly pickups are set to begin in June, Dock to Dish’s market will be open daily starting Feb. 14.

For a $35 membership fee, customers will get their pick of locally caught fish and seafood. There’s a smartphone app to let them know what’s fresh off the boat, and they’re free to roam around the docks looking for what appeals to them.

Holland said about 80 percent of seafood consumed in the United States is imported, and the idea behind Dock to Dish is to give people access to local food. Membership dues allow Dock to Dish to pay their fishermen a premium, he added.

“If we stop supporting fishermen,” he said, “we will lose the ability to be able to eat our own product.”

To help cultivate the fisherman-customer relationship, Dock to Dish will include in every order a card that identifies who brought in the catch.

“It means when you take it home you can show it to your family and say, ‘This is the guy that caught our dinner,” Holland said.

“Consumers don’t know where their fish comes from,” he said. “The solution is our local fishermen.”

Get Fresh with your Local Fishermen

Where: 3101 North Roosevelt Blvd., Key West.

When: 5-7 p.m. Feb. 14

What: Dock to Dish fishermen and the Florida Keys Commercial Fisherman’s Association is hosting a grand opening party for the area’s first community-supported seafood market. The celebration will include local chef-distilled rum cocktails and seafood appetizers.