By Leah Weissman
Pilot staff writer
Come April, fishermen, tourists and locals will have to find a new place to buy fresh fish and get their catch canned, smoked or filleted. Dick and Casey's Gourmet Seafood, which has been serving the public since 1988, will close its doors at the end of the month and leave the Port of Brookings-Harbor without a multipurpose fish market unless a last-ditch effort by the community can save it.
"I'm the last fresh fish place in the port there's not even a fresh fish market in Crescent City," owner Julie Tomlinson said. "And I am absolutely the only place left here where commercial fishermen can sell their fish off the boat and people can come here and have it filleted."
"Basically, this is going to have a trickle down effect from the commercial fishermen to the general public," she added. "And it means another empty building at the port."
Brookings resident Rene Moulton, a customer and previous employee of Dick and Casey's, said Tomlinson needs the fishing community to rally behind her just like she has done in the past for the community.
"Salmon season being cut short or closed completely; tuna not running close enough for the fishermen to get them; poor crab season: all of these have affected the fishermen as well as the community," Moulton wrote in a letter to the Curry Coastal Pilot. "And one of the strongest supporters of those fishermen is Julie Tomlinson.
"She has been there for other fishermen who got sick planning fundraisers to help keep them from losing their boat or home while they were down," Moulton added. "What the heck; where are all those people now to help her?"
Tomlinson has apparently been hanging on by a thread since 2006, when the ocean salmon season was shortened to a few weeks and her business suffered.
"I lost 35 percent of my annual income that year, and have been trying ever since to keep up," she said. "I've just been getting farther and farther behind."
According to Tomlinson, in response to the 2006 limited salmon season, United States Congress allocated millions of dollars to the state. The Oregon Salmon Commission then dispersed the money to different businesses that depended on the salmon season for their livelihood.
"But I didn't get anything until the third week of January in 2008, and that wasn't enough for me," she said. "Whether the season was open this year would have a definite impact, but I still plan on closing at the end of this month."
Moulton said the port will miss Tomlinson sorely if she leaves, especially sport fishing boat captains who bring their tourists' catches directly to Tomlinson's door to be processed a nice feature if tourists wants to eat their hard-earned fish that night.
"Dick and Casey's is also the only place fishermen can take their catch when the big guys like Hallmark are not buying anymore," she wrote to the Pilot. "(Tomlinson) loves this port and knows it from one end to the other ... we really need her and her business."
Tomlinson said she is open to investors and anyone who might want to buy into the business.
Right now, anyone interested in saving the seafood shop can donate an amount of their choice into the Dick and Casey's Gourmet Seafood account at Chetco Federal Credit Union.
"There is a demand for what I do, but I need the public's help to keep my doors open," she said. "I know people don't want me to go away."