An evening summer breeze blew off the sea, making the strands of seaweed stuck to the net from last years salmon season wave back at my uncle as he scanned the horizon at the fleet of boats behind him. This small marine army off the coast of Alaska's Aleutian Chain were eagerly anticipating a radio broadcast announcing the opening of the 2017 commercial salmon season. It was an early morning, 4:30am, but the sun was just coming up illuminating a beautiful pink glow across the sky, they were in the land of the infamous midnight sun after all. There was a buzz around the boat of the crew's nervous excitement to set the first net and start making the massive amounts of money that had driven them to leave the comfort of their homes in "civilization" to embark an an Alaskan adventure. They knew this was just the beginning of the first long day in an even longer summer surrounded by the same other two crew members and a demanding captain, all whom would desperately start needing showers after four or five consecutive 16 hour work days.
For many Alaskans, fishing is a center-point of the summer. Whether it’s recreational, commercial, running a charter, or for subsistence, the majority of folks get out on the water at some point to try their luck. My childhood was spent either in the island town of Kodiak or the remote fishing village of Chignik Lagoon. You see, my dad and his side of the family grew up on Kodiak Island and he met my mom when he ventured off "the rock" one summer to fish in Chignik, where my mom and her side of the family lived. If combined, my uncles and cousins own a small fleet of million dollar fishing boats that they have worked incredibly hard to earn and run. Commercial fishing has a great pay off, but is not a job for the faint-hearted. Between the manual labor it takes to catch the fish, the long days and limited sleep (average 4 hours a night), being in the same close space for days, sometimes weeks at a time, and of course, living on a constantly moving vessel and dealing with sea sickness.
My mom's side of the family all register at about 33% Aleut, a type of Alaskan Native indigenous to the southwest Alaska. My uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents, parents, and siblings have all cleaned hundreds to thousands of fish during their lifetimes; in fact, willing to clean or have cleaned a fish is pretty much one of the criteria my mom checks off on whether a potential boyfriend is worth my time. Meanwhile, me over here has never cleaned a fish and to be honest, it gives me the heebie jeebies *hides under a shroud of shame*. Even prepping fish that has already been filleted makes my tummy turn a bit. I know, it’s ridiculous, especially if you are a Native Alaskan reading this, but don’t judge me! I have strengths in cleaning other things like barbells and dishes.
Farming a Fish is Not Natural: Environment
Fishermen Are Not Fans: Impact on Local Communities and Economies
Wild Salmon Laugh At Weak Farmed Salmon: Nutrition
Whether you're a sushi or seafood lover, inquire about your next salmon purchase! Feel free to comment questions, experiences, or concerns!
Environmental Impacts. (n.d.). Retrieved September 10, 2017, from http://www.farmedanddangerous.org/salmon-farming-problems/environmental-impacts/
Flatt, C. (2017, August 29). Why Are Atlantic Salmon Being Farmed In The Northwest?
Retrieved September 13, 2017, from http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/08/29/546803147/why-are-atlantic-salmon-being-farmed-in-the-northwest
1-4,8 Special Committee on Sustainable Aquaculture, Legislative Assembly of the Province of British Columbia, May 2007. Final Report, P.1.
Foran, J.A. D.H. Good, D.O. Carpenter, MC Hamilton, BA Knuth, and S.J. Schwager. (2005). Quantitative Analysis of the Benefits and Risks of Consuming Farmed and Wild Salmon. Journal of Nutrition. 135:2639-2643.