Brad Bitton- Live Local Lobster

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A Story told by his son and crew member, Michael Bitton

The story of my dad is one of hard work, determination and never giving up. He spent the majority of his 25-year fishing career working as a crew member on lobster boats there in California. He worked with the old-timers learning the trade and saving up so that one day he could realize his dream of owning and being the captain of his own vessel. In 2019 his dream came true as he acquired the lobster permit and business from one of his mentors. Brad Bitton was now the captain and I became the crew! We travel the waters between Dana Point and Newport Coast.

Commercial lobster fishing in California is a sustainable and conservation-conscious fishery. For over 150 years, fishermen have been catching lobster off the coast of California working with and managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. There are only a few hundred permits and a moratorium prohibits any new permits from being issued. The only way to acquire a permit is by purchasing an existing permit and business. Legally the permit owner has to be the operator and manage all aspects from catch to sale. Trap limits, lobster size restrictions, limited fishing season (October- March), meticulous reporting and environmental monitoring, conservation zones, etc. have all contributed to the healthy and sustainable lobster counts for over a century.

Commercial lobster fishing is extremely small in scale. The boats are small, fuel-efficient and often only 1-2 people on board. Escape ports and destructible lids are designed on the lobster traps. In addition, minimal by-catch and reporting keep the lobster counts healthy and thriving. As a fisherman, we have an understanding and strong respect for the ocean that provides a living for our families, and wild nutritious food for the population. We do not contaminate, pollute or overfish. We want the industry to thrive for centuries to come, and continue to pass this honorable trade and lifestyle down to future generations.

My dad feels strongly that the local lobster he catches should be sold locally here in California. The carbon footprint associated with exported and imported lobster is unnecessary. Although demand in foreign markets often drives a higher price, we want our lobster to stay in California and feed our local families. It’s not just about the money it’s about doing what’s right for our community and environment.

Not all lobsters are the same, and the California spiny lobster is arguably the finest seafood in the world. With a greater yield than east coast lobsters, a sweet taste and large tails, it’s no wonder why the world craves our California variety over the rest. We are truly blessed to be able to consume such a nutritiously dense, tasty and wild food right off our coast. Our lobsters are caught and kept alive. They are only handled once by my dad, treated with respect and make it to the consumer the same day from a 30-mile radius off the coast of the farmers market. Our farming/fishing family (the Bittons) have been living in Southern CA for 3 generations. We reside in the city of Orange, fish out of Dana Point Harbor and are here to serve and feed our local community.