Who we are
Local Fish Initiative Staff
Tanner Saraspe, Founder
Tanner provides oversight, creativity, mastery, and supervision over all aspects of Local Fish Initiative with the goal of supporting local and regional economies through preserving the livelihoods of local fishermen and supporting our working waterfront. Tanner is a true born and raised San Diego girl. After earning a degree in neuroscience from the University of San Diego, she decided to carry on the family tradition and breathe new life into the local fishing industry. Tanner started Saraspe Seafoods, a small-scale distribution company focused on local and fully-traceable products, as a 21 year old fresh out of college. Her growing awareness of the need for methods to improve quality and efficiency in the marketplace sparked the fire that brought the Local Fish Initiative to life. Tanner comes to LFI with a broad range of experience, having worked as a manager of a fish processing plant, steering committee member of San Diego Food System Alliance, director of San Diego Fisherman's Working Group, and owner of Saraspe Seafoods. Her first trip offshore was at two-days old on her dad’s lobster boat – she knows her way around a fishing boat.
Connie Winterstein, Co-Founder
Connie provides operations and programmatic oversight of LFI, including strategic planning, operations, and developing processes and systems. She has over 15 years of experience driving operations and managing projects from the ground up. Her diverse background includes working with the private sector, U.S. government, as well as non profit organizations. Connie has acquired and managed grant awards with a portfolio exceeding $60 million over her career. Her experience includes collaborating with fishing industry representatives to analyze environmental impacts from select fisheries in Hawaii; funded by NOAA. Connie received her M.S. in Natural Resources Management from the University of Hawaii, Manoa and her undergraduate degree from UC San Diego. Raised in southern California, Connie has fond memories of heading to the Dory Fishing Fleet and Market in Newport Beach on weekends with her family to purchase fresh seafood from fishermen. Seeing her father develop relationships with the fishermen stuck with her over the years and she understood that food doesn’t just come from a grocery aisle and local, high-quality seafood is not only important, but delicious.
Sarah Saraspe, Outreach and Supply Chain Specialist
Sarah brings over 20 years of experience in the fish handling and processing business. In 2003, Sarah founded Five Star Fish Processing based in Point Loma where she serviced the San Diego fleet. The Point Loma sportfishing fleet is one of the largest in the world. Sarah’s business reinvented the way fish was preserved before landing at the docks through Refrigerated Saltwater System (RSW) technology. This system allowed fish to remain fresh, never frozen, and processed immediately. Her business received and processed over 800 tons of fish annually and processed an average of 15,000 pounds of fish per day during peak season. Sarah now works with Saraspe Seafoods as a purchasing and delivery coordinator and quality control specialist. Her role includes providing support for outreach activities, conducting research on the San Diego seafood supply chain system, and advising on quality control methods.
Cheryl Chen, Fisheries and Technology Advisor
Cheryl Chen, PhD, Fisheries and Technology Advisor. Cheryl works to empower and engage coastal communities through collaborative and cutting-edge technology initiatives. Raised in the Bay Area from Taiwanese parents, she grew up fishing on the US West Coast, and has been involved in ocean and coastal management/policy since 2006. She has led the design and development of a multitude of online tools, websites, and mobile applications such as digital logbooks, marine spatial planning tools, MPA monitoring dashboards, and fisheries data explorers in ways that are intuitive to navigate, yet engage the user in discovering and mapping the rich knowledge that exists within coastal communities. She has worked extensively at the intersection between fishing communities, tribal nations, state/federal agencies, coastal recreation groups, students, and researchers/scientists as both clients and collaborators. She received her Ph.D. in Geography from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Nicole Litvack, Fisheries and Content Consultant
Nicole is a San Diego-based food editor and writer. Born into a third-generation fishing family, her deep love and appreciation for local food systems sparked an interest in gastronomy that led to a lifelong career in and around the kitchen. After earning a degree in English Literature from the University of California, Irvine, she went on to pursue a professional degree from The New School of Cooking in Los Angeles, as well as a food styling certification from The Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. Nicole has overseen the launch of several web-based marketing campaigns, worked on the creation of eight cookbooks, and managed a multi-platform content marketing publication for a major US grocery store. Nicole will help capture the stories and recipes embedded in our local community to expand awareness around local products and practices.
Outreach and Supply Chain Specialist
Fisheries and Technology Advisor
Fisheries and Content Consultant
Local Fish Initiative Partners
Mariah Raftree, Raftree Consulting
Mariah has 25 years of experience in Sales and Marketing. She was responsible for multi million dollar projects while working with C suites in Fortune 100 companies, built her own sales and marketing teams from scratch in several organizations, and consulted with many companies to help them build out teams and strategies for growth. For the past 15 years, she focused her career in Sustainable Food and Ag. She worked with multiple developing Food Hubs all specifically focused on selling into the wholesale space, ran a Food + Farm program with a non profit where she was able to work with many other farmers, ranchers, fishers and area nonprofits seeking to develop a vibrant local food scene and she helped launch an eat local first campaign. She was a board member and president for a multi location coop who was critical to supporting food hubs in the region. She loves business and believes it can be a force for good in our communities.
This pilot program is supported by National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In 2021, the LFI project was funded in collaboration with NOAA—a project aimed at increasing accessibility and promoting domestic catch.
This new initiative was developed by Saraspe Seafoods to center community ownership and works to support the viability of sustainable fisheries in California.