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A Good Catch


Fish. Food. Feel Good.

Helmed by Fairbanks Ranch resident Todd Bluechel, F3G is a local nonprofit that collects unwanted fish from sport fishermen and distributes it to local charities that serve it to those in need including military veterans, the elderly, homeless, and jobless.

“I’ve been fishing these waters for almost 30 years and there comes a time when you have to stop complaining and take action,” Bluechel explains. “I saw Robert Redford’s film Lions for Lambs and it reminded me that if one wants to have a full life, a meaningful life, each and every one of us must dedicate selfless time to the improvement of others, towards the greater good.”

Since F3G’s inception last summer, Father Joe’s Villages has received more than 10,000 pounds of quality fish including yellowfin, yellowtail, bluefin, and albacore. These whole fish were then filleted by fulltime residents and students in Father Joe’s Culinary Arts Program (an eight-month onsite program that teaches homeless residents a marketable skill to become financially independent), and served to the more than 4,000 homeless who dine at the facility every day. Other local charities  benefiting from F3G donations include Samoa Independent, San Diego Rescue Mission, the San Diego Food Bank, and Meals On Wheels Greater San Diego.

Bluechel is the first to point out that F3G does not exist because sport fishermen are killing too many fish. He notes that “of all the migratory pelagic fish caught, only two-tenths of one percent are killed by sport fishermen” — quite literally a drop in the ocean. Bluechel continues, “Sport fishermen are, for the most part, defenders of fish populations and advocates for the sport of fishing, the clean outdoors, and the enjoyment of catching your own meal.”

F3G relies on generous, mutually beneficial partnerships including S.D.’s Fisherman’s Processing, which collects, freezes, and stores the fish until they’ve collected 1,000 pounds. Once the collection bins are full, the next organization in line sends a collection truck to receive this bounty. To complete the cycle, Bluechel also partners with lobster and crab fishermen who utilize the inedible fish parts as bait that then returns to the ocean, feeding fish and other sea critters.

Bluechel would love to connect with local community members who are equally as passionate about his cause. He hopes to take F3G’s framework and replicate the program nationally, and is confident that once sport fishermen and charter captains outside San Diego learn about F3G, they too will want to donate their unwanted fish to local charities, using the F3G model as a blueprint. (858/605-1075, www.f3g.org)   MIA STEFANKO


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