Wild Salmon Season – April 19, 2015

By April 19, 2015Dock Stories

As flowers break ground and begin pushing skyward, wild salmon are starting to return to their rivers of birth We are most excited to be able to connect chefs across America with the harvest of Alaska salmon fishermen starting next month.

Alaska’s Bristol Bay is blessed with the world’s greatest salmon run, yet is still threatened by the Pebble Mine Project building the worlds largest open pit mine. (Did You Know? “The estimated depth of the open pit that would be excavated at Pebble is 1,700 feet – deep enough to swallow the Empire State Building, which measures a mere 1,453 feet.”) A new film has come down from Alaska telling the story of Bristol Bay, and the mine’s threat. The Breach is premiering in NYC on April 25th, and the Sea to Table team will be joining many of our friends from the bay at the screening, discussion, and sockeye tasting. The film program will be travelling the country for the next month, and we encourage everyone to see it.

Just like the fish, Bristol Bay sockeye fishermen cousins Christopher Nicholson, Reid Ten Kley, and their family are planning their annual pilgrimage north. Their grandfather homesteaded a parcel of land on Bristol Bay called Graveyard Point in the late 1940’s by spending two full years without a permanent structure. The family was granted set-net rights when Alaska became a state. Christopher’s mother is a native Inuit, whose ancestors have been sustained by wild salmon for millennium.

When the sockeye surge begins in June, over 50 million fish are expected to flood the bay. Just five miles from Graveyard Point there is a state-of-the-art processing and blast freezing facility. Sockeye arrive there iced and still flopping, and are filleted and IQF frozen. From there they are loaded onto a freezer barge for the long slow trip to the Seattle area.

Christie Benson has been working at her family’s dock in Bellingham, WA since she was a kid. Her dad was a big name in the area and a very well respected fish guy. She is probably now even more so. Her business, Home Port Seafoods, was recognized as Whatcom County Small Business of the Year for 2015. We talked to her after the award ceremony the other week and she was proud and humbled at the same time. Here the salmon is packed into Sea to Table cold-chain packaging, and sent via freezer truck and train to nine cold storage facilities all around the country such that we can deliver next-day ground to over 90% of our chefs at the lowest possible cost and lowest carbon footprint. The ability to deliver the world’s best wild salmon year-round, traceable right to the point of capture, at a reasonable cost, is something we are very proud of.

Together, we're working so that kids in Bristol Bay can pose in pictures like this for generations to come.

Together, we’re working so that kids in Bristol Bay can pose in pictures like this for generations to come.

Sockeye fishermen Christopher Nicholson at Graveyard Point on Alaska's Bristol Bay

Sockeye fishermen Christopher Nicholson at Graveyard Point on Alaska’s Bristol Bay

This week NOAA released the 2014 Status of US Fisheries, reporting that overfishing and overfished numbers hit all-time lows. “This report illustrates that the science-based management process under the Magnuson-Stevens Act is working to end overfishing and rebuild stocks,” said Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for fisheries. “While we have made tremendous progress, we know there’s more work to be done — especially as we continue to document changes to our world’s oceans and ecosystems. We will continue to strive toward sustainable management of our nation’s fisheries in order to preserve our oceans for future generations.” Good stuff.

All the best,

from the Dimin family and the Sea to Table team

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