About Sea Stephanie Fish
Like all great ideas, Sea Stephanie Fish was born over a shot of tequila at Brophy's at the Santa Barbara Harbor in 2012. Two Santa Barbara sea urchin divers, Stephanie Mutz and Harry Liquornik, merged their individual uni businesses that had become too large to manage alone. Sea Stephanie Fish was the more recognized business name of the two, so that one stuck.
Sea Stephanie Fish sea urchins are available to the public, sold at several weekly markets and on the menu at dozens of restaurants up and down the California coast. A few nice people help with driving and other important tasks now, but Stephanie and Harry still do all the diving when the weather’s nice. If you’re near the harbor or on the water, keep an eye out for F/V Abre Ojos and F/V Skiff.
Sea Stephanie Fish provides access to quality seafood harvested in a responsible way that builds relationships with our local community. We fish out of Santa Barbara and deliver weekly directly to consumers and restaurants all over Los Angeles, Costa Mesa, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara. We frequent San Francisco several times per year due to popular demand for sea urchin.
Meet the Divers
Harry has been in the commercial fishing business for more than 30 years. An original ‘Mesa Rat’ from Santa Barbara, he enrolled in the commercial dive program at SBCC when he was 18 to pursue underwater welding.
He never made it to the first day of class as he watched the abalone and sea urchin divers go to work with surfboards strapped to the roofs of their boats. A notorious big wave rider, Harry wanted a job where he could surf while he worked. He started to deckhand on boats and eventually earned his abalone fishing license in the lottery and bought a sea urchin fishing permit. Harry was immersed in both fisheries until the commercial abalone fishery closed in 1997.
Harry has always had a great interest in appreciating and looking out for our limited marine resources. Wanting a bit more control over his markets, he began direct marketing to restaurants, providing more local access to Santa Barbara sea urchin.
Stephanie didn't start in the commercial fishing industry until her late 20's. She was supposed to be a college biology professor until her fishing problem got in the way. She does still teach part time, but her full time job is commercial fishing – predominantly sea urchin diving.
Growing up as a beach bum in Newport Beach, she would always tell her dad that she never wanted a job where she had to wear pantyhose and sit at a desk. So far so good! When Stephanie initially won her sea urchin permit in the lottery, she was only selling to the processor. At that time, most sea urchin divers were making a living harvesting 1000’s of pounds a day, and she could not come close to harvesting that amount due to the grueling physical demand of urchin diving.
Stephanie realized she had to increase the value of her catch and focus on quality over quantity. Harvesting less for more value also coincided with Stephanie’s environmental conservation values.