Jerry Wetle, Fisherman

When Jerry Wetle was 12 years old, he would ride his skateboard around Monterey and often end up at the harbor. One day, a fisherman who was tying off asked for Jerry's help with a line. After this, the fisherman hired Jerry for small jobs, and then took him out as a deckhand. Jerry was hooked and wanted to quit school right then and there to pursue a life on the sea. His parents made him a deal - if he finished school, he could fish on weekends.

For the past 31 years, he’s been fishing and built his fleet up to seven boats. One of those, Pacific Bully, based in the Monterey harbor, fishes groundfish quota leased from the Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust with pots and fishing lines. His boats catch rockfish, lingcod, black cod, and petrale sole among other groundfish.

In 2008, when the economy took a downturn, his father, who had been a contractor, couldn’t collect on a big job for a local hotel and was in need of income. At the same time, Steve Jobs decided he wanted his employees at Apple to eat only sustainable, traceable seafood, and so he approached Jerry. Due to the sudden expansion - the Apple employees loved seafood - Jerry bought three new boats. Then Jerry was able to bring on his father to deckhand, then run a boat, and finally to manage the fleet. His brother also runs a boat in his fleet, and his mother does the accounting. 

Jerry believes that sustainable fishing means taking a break from fishing certain areas so the stocks can recover, and collecting  data while out on the Monterey Bay and sharing it. As for the importance of local seafood, “We’ll always support those who support us,” he said. “And we stay diversified in everything we do.”

Sherry Flumerfelt