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Real Good Fish is celebrating our 10-year anniversary. We want to specifically thank you, our members, for being with us on this journey as we continue to improve our programs, while supporting a more sustainable future for our fisheries and our communities.
Looking back at the last decade, we've accomplished a lot. We started in the back of a restaurant, processing and packing the first shares, delivered in our original "fish mobile". Our first delivery of seafood was Dungeness Crab from the late John Hulliger of Moss Landing on the FV Gayle. I built the website, honed the business plan, and Oren Frey, business partner at the time and still a good friend, lined up the logistics and fishermen network. With close to 150 members to start, we delivered our Bay's "Local Catch," as we were originally named, once a week to our community pick-up locations.
From there we dreamed up an idea to get local seafood into public schools with the help of my now wife, Jennifer Gerard Lovewell, who was the nutrition director at the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District. With the help of the USDA and Packard Foundation we got that program up and running and officially launched Bay2Tray to bring underserved children local sustainable seafood, while bringing fishermen into the classrooms; a bridge from their plates to the working waterfront community. Bay2Tray was recognized by many organizations, and most notably by President Obama's White House as a Champion of Change in 2016.
Then in 2018, we decided to work more directly at the policy level to create more opportunities for fishermen to test the viability of more sustainable fishing gears through a process called Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP). One of my close colleagues and a member of Real Good Fish, Melissa Mahoney, working for the Environmental Defense Fund, collaborated with us to get the permit through the political process and on the water. Another member and wonderful colleague, Nicole Sarto, helped manage the program. As of now, with a few years of fishing trips on this gear under our belt, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is conferring with us to enact new fishing regulations guided by our collective efforts.
Fast forward to 2022, and times have certainly changed. With the onset of the COVID pandemic in 2020, our program shifted to providing seafood to community food banks and kitchens. We also expanded our operation to source and ship nationally, so folks all over the country are able to be part of the Real Good Fish experience.
Reflecting about where we have come from, and what we have achieved with a simple vision and commitment from our team and members, I can confidently say I am extremely proud. We have amassed an incredible and formidable community and network of people and organizations to make your seafood some of the most impactful and sustainable seafood on the planet. When someone asks, "where does your seafood come from?", you can proudly say "Real Good Fish!" and know that we are delivering a product and experience unlike any other on the market. We hope you can humbly celebrate with us for your participation and unwavering support, charging ahead through a rapidly changing world.
On The Horizon
Now for the fun part - where we are going (truth be told, I have a hard time reflecting. Looking forward is more my strong suit). Let's start with the simpler stuff: New Labels are coming - I promise. Our team has been working hard to find the optimal materials, adhesives, and inks. We are a few weeks away from having all the elements together and are excited to deliver the enhanced labels with larger fonts! Thank you for your patience as we rallied our busy team to find the right set of solutions.
The Real Good Fish online experience is getting a much-needed overhaul. Last year we took the big step towards developing our own e-commerce platform to handle many of the complexities and unique qualities of Real Good Fish that the "out-of-the-box" solutions could not. It was a major step for us, but one that we know is necessary, and will help us accomplish our mission of connecting small-scale fishermen and seafood lovers, and improve your experience as a member. We are developing a roll out strategy and will keep you all updated as we go through the beta testing process. This has been a long time in the works and we are very exited to share our new online experience with you.
And finally, we are excited to begin integrating new sources and species of Real Good Fish! We sent out our member survey last year and it was unanimous: You all want a greater variety of Real Goodness. Many of your had a chance to sample the scallops we direct sourced from the Gulf of Maine - imagine that but more of popular and unique seafoods from other regions of the country. Think monkfish from New England. Gulf shrimp from Florida. Sockeye salmon from Alaska. Of course, if you a member that is committed to only our California fishermen, we will continue to be here for you and source you the best our coast has to offer. We are committed to bringing you more flexibility in your membership, with more variety, and always with an unwavering commitment to sustainable and traceable sourcing, and highlighting the fishermen and communities responsible for your food.
This all goes to say that this is a very exciting moment for Real Good Fish, and after 10 years we are really just getting started. As we embark on this next chapter we are so thankful that you are all here with us on this collective journey to directly support and build sustainable fisheries from boat to fork.
With gratitude for you, our community, and what the future holds,
CEO and Cofounder