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Do you know your fisherman?

Do you know your fisherman?

We’ve got all kinds of fishermen in our fleet. Some are poets, some are mathematicians. We’ve got painters, musicians, rocket scientists. Here’s Mike Rentel who comes from a mechanical engineering background with a minor in math and emphasis on machine design and metallurgy. With an MBA emphasis in finance and entrepreneurship and minors in philosophy and behavioral economics, Mike fishes with a crew that consists of a veterinarian and a cattle rancher, both of whom Mike considers smarter than himself.

Alaska Salmon Fisherman

Mike started fishing summers with his grandpa in high school, trolling out of Ilwaco near the Columbia River. After his grandpa passed away, he finished college, but started up again with a 32-foot pocket-seiner/gillnetter and in a couple of years moved up to leased crabbers and a crew of five doing “deadliest catch” king crabs and tanners in the North Gulf of Alaska in the winter while fishing dungies between Icy Bay and Yakutat in the spring.

Mike met his wife, a geology professor, while she was mapping the sea floor off the coast of Chilean Patagonia and Antarctica. As an engineer keeping all the water, heat and electrical systems running in the remote cold wilderness, she was impressed that Mike could fix just about anything. Being able to fix things on the fly is exactly what it takes to run a commercial fishing boat in Alaska, too.

This spirit of adventure, inherent in all of our fishermen, along with a knack for fixing things helped Mike and his wife win the Spirit of Admiralty sailboat race, the longest inland water sailboat race on the West Coast.

Eventually, Mike “downsized” to the Harmony Isle, a 42-foot Wahl/Seamaster freezer boat. “I specifically chose a freezer-boat because I was committed to producing the best quality seafood possible.”

Alaska Salmon

Mike spends winters in Madison, Wisconsin. As part of our fishermen-owned co-op, Mike is just one of the fishermen owners of our company.

We think what’s special about our Alaska Gold Seafood is that it comes from a fishermen-owned company. What we sell is the fish we catch. It’s not uncommon that the fish sold in many places isn’t what they say it is—the fish passes through many hands before getting to you the customer. Though our fishermen would love to personally deliver fish to you, we think purchasing from our website is almost as good. Fish fraud has been around since before the days when Jesus’s disciples fished the Sea of Galilee. Fishermen being underpaid for their hard work has also been a common practice since biblical times. Which is why fishermen-owned co-ops like ours were formed. As owners of the business, fishermen-owners control their own destinies. We’re quite proud of the work we do. We do it with integrity and transparency. And with a deep pride in our quality.

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Line-caught salmon, the craft beer of seafood

Lance Preston, who trolls on the F/V Seaboy, a classic wooden troller, is a Seafood Producers Cooperative board member with a passion for premium-quality salmon and our fishermen’s cooperative. Here he is in own words describing why being a member of SPC is so important to him and why you get a quality fish from Seafood Producers Cooperative.

Lancestill
Lance Preston, Seafood Producers Cooperative member. Click here for his story on line-caught salmon from SPC.

 

Seafood Producers Cooperative is owned by the fishermen, so it’s our organization. As fishermen, we are responsible for the quality and we take great pride in what we do. Owned by fishermen, we have the opportunity to stress quality.

We produce the best Alaskan seafood that you can get. Only a small percentage of Alaskan salmon are caught by trollers using hook and line methods. It’s a boutique fishery. As Lance says, “Like your micro-brews, we’re a micr0-fishery.” Line-caught salmon, the craft beer of seafood. Fish come on board One Fish At A Time. We catch the premier species–king salmon and coho salmon. “White table cloth material.” Fish are landed on deck, pressure-bled using a micro-pipette, gutted, and iced within a half-hour. In contrast, a net-caught salmon might spend hours on deck before being handled.

At the end of the day, a co-op fish comes from fishermen who take pride in quality, because they own the organization.

Lance puts it elegantly: “I get to produce a quality product that is sustainably harvested in a well-manged fishery and belong to a cooperative that is taking care of us and we’re all taking care of each other. We’re all part of it. We are owners of the entire organization cooperatively. No one’s being exploited. We’re making a decent living. And I get to go fishing. What guy doesn’t like to go fishing?”

 

Lance-thumbsup
Thumbs up. Lance Preston on being a member/owner of Seafood Producers Cooperative.

 

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Quality over Quantity

Quality Seafood
Fresh King Salmon.

Since 1944, Seafood Producers Cooperative has had a Relentless Commitment to Quality Seafood.

Owned and operated by small boat hook and line fishermen who fish the waters of the North Pacific, we take great pride in getting the best Quality Seafood to our customers.

Our cooperative members, hook and line fishermen, have family members that serve as deck hands. Being in tight quarters on a small boat takes a lot of patience and is usually something family operations do best. These aren’t factory boats that use mass extraction methods. A small boat using hook and line methods can more easily target a species. and as a result there is  a much smaller by-catch. Great care is taken when handling each and every fish. We catch One Fish At A Time, producing Quality Seafood. 

Only a small percentage—less than 5%—of Alaska salmon comes from trollers, but what troll-caught salmon lack in quantity, they more than make up for in quality.

As a co-op of hook and line fishermen, we work on a smaller scale and have a deeper connection with the ocean than larger corporations that use mass extraction methods. We revere traditional approaches to fishing that don’t do long-term damage to fisheries and the ocean. Working on a smaller scale means that we can be more transparent. We can look customers in the eye and tell them where we fished and how we fished.

Quality seafood is the cornerstone of our cooperative. 70 years ago, a group of Alaskan halibut fishermen realized that the best way to ensure that their products were delivered with quality from ocean to market was to process their own fish with their strict standards. The dogged pride of our cooperative members in delivering Quality Seafood to our customers has ensured our longevity as a cooperative.

Quality Seafood
Fresh Halibut.
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Alaska is a Big Place

Alaska is a Big Place

Alaska is a Big Place.

Our fish processing plant in Sitka is unique in that it is busy most of the year with a number of different fisheries, but there is a lull in October. During this lull, Dave Newman, our Fresh Production Supervisor, goes moose hunting near Hoonah.

When Dave’s out hunting, if he sees bear signs, he goes somewhere else. Much in the same way, if a fisherman pulls into a bay and there are some boats already there and it’s too crowded, the fisherman can pull into another bay to fish. There are plenty in Southeast Alaska.  Alaska is a big place! It’s just absolutely massive. And sparsely populated. Our  wild Alaska salmon, halibut and sablefish come from really pristine waters that aren’t tainted by run-off from cities or air pollution.

The North Pacific is home to some beautiful fish and Alaska is where that fish is delivered. Alaska is a big place.

Southeast Alaska. Rugged land, beautiful waters.

The jagged bays and rugged mountains around Sitka.
The jagged bays and rugged mountains around Sitka.
The kelp-filled waters and Mount Edgecumbe in the background near Sitka.
The kelp-filled waters and Mount Edgecumbe in the background near Sitka.
Sunset over Sitka, SE Alaska.
Sunset over Sitka, SE Alaska.

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Rip Tide, the Southeast Alaska Salmon Trollers’ Anthem

“Rip Tide” is the Southeast Alaska Salmon Trollers’ Anthem. Words are by Gary Egerton of the F/V Valle Lee. Music is based on the “Rawhide” theme. Gary Egerton is a owner/member of Seafood Producers Cooperative. This salmon trollers’ anthem is the essence of what our salmon trollers do. Each works on his/her own or with family members in tight quarters. They work really hard. The focus is on quality not quantity.

Since 1944, Seafood Producers Cooperative has had a Relentless Commitment to Quality. Our rich heritage gives us profound respect for the natural wild fish we catch and the high quality products we deliver.

Owned and operated by small boat hook and line fishermen who fish the waters of the North Pacific, cooperative members take great pride in getting the best quality fish to our customers.

Salmon Troller
Gary Egerton, member of Seafood Producers Cooperative.

 

Everything we do is to ensure that our fishermen members can stay true to traditional hook and line fishing methods that not only bring  premium quality seafood to our customers’ plates but allow our fishermen to continue fishing  for generations to come. Our quality standards ensure our longevity as an organization. Our salmon trollers embody these quality standards and the rugged spirit captured in Gary’s Salmon Trollers’ Anthem.

By staying true to our promise of quality and our use of traditional hook and line methods, we ensure that future generations of our fishermen will be able to pursue the highest quality seafood available on the market. We also ensure that the Salmon Trollers’ Anthem can be sung by generations to come.

 

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What makes Alaska Gold Salmon special?

Line-caught king salmon.

Alaska Gold Salmon from Seafood Producers Cooperative are line-caught on the open ocean when their natural oil content and texture are at their peak.  Because Alaska Gold™ king and coho salmon are caught on hook and line, they are by definition actively feeding and at the prime of their life cycle—bright with the freshest taste, the purest color, firm skin, perfect texture, and silky flavor. Since each fish is handled one fish at a time, great care is put into cleaning the fish and freezing them as possible.

Line-caught salmon
Ocean-bright salmon.

Only a small percentage—less than 5%—of Alaska salmon are caught on hook and line, but what line-caught Alaska Gold Salmon lack in quantity, they more than make up for in quality.

No fish is handled with more care from the time it leaves the water until it is delivered to a customer than a line-caught Alaska Gold Salmon from Seafood Producers Cooperative. As a fishermen’s cooperative owned and operated by fishermen, we have a relentless commitment to quality.

Our meticulous handling methods make for the best tasting fish available. Alaska Gold Salmon are cleaned and stowed in a matter of minutes after being caught,  locking in their fresh from the ocean flavors. Being quickly cleaned as soon as they make it to the deck of the boat stops the process that creates off flavors common in fish that aren’t handled with the same level of care. Line-caught Alaska Gold Salmon are handled One Fish At A Time. This difference in the way the fish are handled means that a Alaska Gold Salmon caught on hook and line makes for a premium-quality product with the freshest taste.

Our relentless commitment to quality begins with the careful handling of our catch the moment it comes on board and continues all the way to when our customers receive our products and beyond, as so many of our customers have been loyal to us for years for that extra personal touch that we provide to everyone who orders.

 

 

 

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Strictly A Salmon Troller

Wild Salmon. Hand-caught Alaska salmon
Fishing with Tom Fisher, Salmon Troller.

The appropriately named Tom Fisher has literally spent his entire life fishing Southeast Alaska.

Born and raised in Ketchikan, at age 13 he got himself an 18-foot skiff. It all started when his dad told him to fill the smokehouse. And that Tom did.

And during the process, he had an epiphany:

If he caught enough salmon, people would pay him to fish. Just about anybody’s dream come true. “I’m one of the luckiest guys on Earth! Other people don’t get to do this.”

Now Tom’s a board member for Seafood Producers Cooperative and catching salmon for purchase on the Alaska Gold website.

Tom is strictly a salmon troller. “I still marvel at the magic of salmon. They’re just so resilient. The wandering life they lead. The whole idea that they take this wild journey miles and miles to return back to where they were born in order to die. It’s just too much. Salmon are the barometer of our ecosystem. When we catch and  eat a wild salmon, that is nature’s true reward. ”

Like just about all of our cooperative owners, small boat hook and line fishermen, what Tom likes most about being a troller is the freedom. He loves the challenge of finding fish. He likes it when it’s rough.

Alaska salmon, wild salmon
Fishing in the snow. Southeast Alaska.

When asked about why he’s a member of a fishermen’s cooperative, Tom responds: “Because at the end of the day, my work is compensated fairly. I get the fairest price for my fish. I take great pride in workmanship and the co-op also takes pride in quality.

Like other small boat fishermen, Tom believes salmon trollers are the ocean’s best friends. “A healthy ocean is healthy for me.” We don’t want to damage our livelihoods. We are the Eyes of the Ocean. “A lot of us trollers know more than most scientists because we’ve lived our entire lives on the ocean.”

Through most of his fishing career, which has spanned 40+ years, Tom fished by himself with no deckhand. “That way I can be closer to nature.” I am the shipwright, mechanic, navigator and cook. Everything means more when you can do it yourself. “There’s more company on the ocean than in a city. It’s just teeming with life.”

tom himself

Tom’s current boat, the Carol W, was build by Finns in Astoria in 1939. Its cedar hull was restored recently.

Carol W, salmon trolling boat.
Carol W, salmon trolling boat.
wild salmon, alaska salmon, small boat fishermen
Carol W, salmon trolling boat
Wild salmon, Alaska salmon
Carol W, salmon trolling boat.
The Carol W being restored
The Carol W being restored
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A Better Way to Buy Fish

A Better Way to Buy Fish: 5 Reasons To Get Fish From A Fishermen’s Co-op

When you buy fish from a fishermen’s cooperative, you get your fish from a fisherman. We fishermen are the owners and operators of Seafood Producers Cooperative (SPC). From boat to plate, we take great pride in delivering our order to you. Your fish goes from the water to your plate in the most direct path possible.

We fishermen take great pride in what we do.

So, the first reason to get fish from a fishermen’s cooperative is that the fish is taking the most direct path from boat to plate.

Reason #1: Fish from a Fishermen’s Cooperative goes to the customer in the most direct path from boat to plate

Reason #2:  SPC Cooperative fish is MADE IN THE USA.

91% of seafood purchased in the United States is  imported and up to a third of that is product of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Essentially pirate fish. And pirate fishermen are destroying the world’s fisheries by overfishing.

SPC fish is caught in the waters of the North Pacific, much of it in waters off Alaska, the world’s model for sustainable fisheries. Alaska is the only state with a mandate for sustainable seafood written right into its State Constitution. All fisheries are carefully managed so that our grandchildren can fish the same way that we do. In addition, all of the fish offered for sale by SPC on this web site are from fisheries that are MSC-certified and listed as Best Choice or Green on Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program.

We SPC fishermen fish the most beautiful waters on the planet!
We SPC fishermen fish the most beautiful waters on the planet!

Reason #3: Even when supermarket fish claims to be caught in Alaskan waters, much of it is processed in China.

SPC fishermen take great pride in the fish we bring our customers. We would never process our fish in China. We have skin in the game. We have one processing plant. With very rigorous quality standards. And this plant is in the US of A.

Seafood Producers Cooperative. A sign of quality.
Seafood Producers Cooperative. A sign of quality at our plant in Sitka, Alaska. US of A.

Reason #4: We fish with hook and line in a traditional, artisan way.

Only a small percentage—less than 5%—of Alaska seafood comes from hook and line methods (aka trolling), but what troll-caught fish lack in quantity, they more than make up for in quality.

A troll-caught fish is a superior product and is the most premium quality fish on the market. No fish is handled with more care from the time it leaves the water until it is delivered to a customer than a troll-caught fish. At SPC we are particularly fastidious with our handling procedures. Fish are quickly bled, stopping the degradation process that begins in a net-caught fish long before it even makes it to the boat deck. Troll-caught fish don’t pile up on the boat deck. They are handled One Fish At A Time and are iced and stowed in a matter of minutes while many net-caught fish are dead long before they even reach the deck of a boat. This difference in the way the fish are handled means that a hook and line caught fish makes for a premium-quality product with a fresher taste.

Troll-caught salmon are also harvested in the open ocean and therefore are “brights,” that is, they are actively feeding and therefore not undergoing the changes in morphology that a spawning salmon is undergoing. Once these changes in their bodies start taking place, a salmon will have an off taste. Net-caught fish are caught closer to rivers, where these changes in their bodies are taking place. They are not actively feeding. For these reasons, a troll-caught salmon is pound for pound the most valuable of the Alaska salmon, and is the most premium-quality fish available.

We really take great pride in what we do.
We really take great pride in what we do.

Reason #5: Fishermen’s cooperative members have a vested interest to produce the highest quality fish for our customer because they are the owners and the operators of the cooperative!

Cooperatives make the world a better place by adhering to the 7 cooperative principles. For us, these principles are sacred and we believe that they support the communities that we live in.

Check out our online store and get the world’s best seafood.

SE Alaska. The most beautiful waters on the planet.

 

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Alaska Gold™ Troll-Caught Salmon

We fishermen take great pride in what we do.

Alaska Gold™ Because Alaska Gold™ king and coho salmon are caught on hook and line, they are actively feeding and at the prime of their life cycle—bright with the freshest taste, the purest color, firm skin, perfect texture, and the most elegant flavor. From the icy cold, pristine waters of Southeast Alaska and with all the nutrients we come to expect in a wild fish, Alaska Gold™ salmon are of superior quality, real fish the way it was meant to be eaten.

Alaska Gold™ salmon is the fish of legend. Featured on television programs like Masterchef, Alaska Gold™ salmon is for chefs who appreciate fine quality salmon.

Alaska Gold™ salmon featured on Masterchef.

 

 

 

AK Gold Label