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Alaska Seafood Made In the USA by American Fishermen

Alaska fishermen
The Eliason Family.

Our Alaska seafood is caught in the waters off Southeast Alaska by the hard-working fishermen that make up Seafood Producers Cooperative (SPC).

Line-caught salmon
Amy Grondin of the F/V Duna with a line-caught coho salmon
Fresh king salmon
On the Sugar with a fresh king salmon

Since 1944, SPC has served families of American fishermen who deliver sustainably harvested Alaska seafood to our customers.

Our American heritage gives us our values: hard work, pride in craftsmanship, reliability, integrity, fairness, concern for community and democratic member control. (As a fishermen-owned co-op, all fishermen vote on fishermen board members who make critical decisions.)

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Just over 600 fishermen own our cooperative. 397 call Alaska home. 216 have mailing addresses in Sitka. Another 100 winter in Washington state. Other members live in states as diverse as Texas, Vermont and Florida, but fish in Alaska, a state with sustainable seafood written right into the constitution. What unites us is our relentless commitment to quality, dedication to our customers, and an unparalleled pride in workmanship. This is our unique American heritage and what makes our Alaska seafood so special.

Crew members. It's important to stay upbeat to work hard all day.
Crew members. It’s important to stay upbeat to work hard all day.

Alaska Eagle

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Living the Dream–A Fishing Family’s Lifestyle

Alaska Fishermen
Jay and Becky Haun, a fishing couple

Like any story worth telling, it started with a dream.

A $2500 investment and then they were off to go fishing. They were 21 years old, in love, and studying at Western Washington University to become teachers. They’d only known each other for 10 months when they got married.

Kind advice led Jay and Becky Haun to become members of Seafood Producers Cooperative in 1974. Integrity, pride, and the 7 cooperative principles were what guided them, though they didn’t know much about fishermen’s cooperatives when they joined. “There was a certain honesty and humility among co-op members that we appreciated. Others told us that we’d get the fairest price for our fish as cooperative members, so we joined,” Becky tells us. Members until 2011, Jay served as a board member in one way or another with Seafood Producers Cooperative for 24 years (1987-2011). That is true commitment!

What was essential to sticking with the cooperative during those 37 years was a sense of belonging. Co-op members look out for each other, which is important when working on the rough waters around Southeast Alaska.

They might not have had a lot of money during some of the tough years, but they considered themselves rich. They had each other. They were working hard and were satisfied. They raised 2 kids—Ryan and Carie—on the boat.

How does one raise children on a 42-foot boat, you might ask. “You tie them to a line with a carabineer,” Becky tells us. “The kids wore a sailing harness. One end of the rope was attached to the harness that went over the kid’s shoulders and under their crotch. On the back there was a carabineer that hooked to the harness and the other end of that line was tied off on the boom of the boat. They could fall in but only their feet would get wet and we could easily yank them back in. We were on the HELEN HINTON [their boat]  when the kids were babies and I can still feel that hollow freaky feeling when I could not see them on the boat. The boat was only 42 feet and looked like a cruiser with lots of windows, so losing sight of one of them was almost impossible. But it happened and of course I panicked. And yet, they never went out of the cabin onto the back deck or float without a life jacket. That became second nature to them. We also gave them swimming lessons at a very early age. We were flexible and made adjustments. We learned a lot together. We learned how to be a family.”

Alaska Fishermen
Big fish, white beard. Jay Haun with a king salmon.

From about fourth grade on, Becky’s dream was to be a teacher. But she hitched her dreams onto Jay’s and followed his dream to be a fisherman. “And history became mine. And people couldn’t believe how strong it made me or how the fishing life became a part of my identity.”

And indeed she has lived that dream. Some people dream of sailing through the Inside Passage just once. Becky has done that close to 80 times. Each year, back and forth, for the nearly 40 years she spent fishing in Alaska with her husband Jay. At first on the HELEN HINTON, but later on the sturdier Cinnabar, now owned by 3-generation co-op member Jaycen Andersen.

As it is for other writers, writing about her life is what helped Becky to make sense of it all.

“Last night at the P-Bar” is a story about missing the girlfriends she had who had a life for themselves on shore. The P-Bar is the fishermen’s bar in Sitka, and an evening there with her girlfriends reminded Becky that her life was on the boat. Fishing. With her husband.

Becky’s story, “A Life is a Promise” is haunting. About a near-death experience near Point Gardner, a treacherous spot on the Inside Passage where the Chatham Strait meets Frederik Sound and small fishing boats are at the mercy of the whim of the wind, tide and currents. Timing is of the essence and a ferocious howling wind could brew up in the snap of some fingers. She was 32 years old, had been married for 11 years and her first thoughts were with her children and then her husband. It was at that moment that she made a deal with God. She would give her life to God in exchange for the lives of her husband and children. When the Hauns made it out of that jam, with the help of another fisherman, Becky kept that promise. She gave her life to God.

Alaska Fishermen
Becky Haun

In 2000, Becky was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, which meant that she and Jay would fish less and less. There was too great a risk of her falling off the boat. As awful as it sounds, though, Parkinson’s “was a blessing in disguise. It gave me a sense of purpose. The miracle is it gave my life back. Now I’m able to focus on what matters. On the relationships I have. I’m able to look back at a life that has been a dream.”

Seafood Producers Cooperative helps fishermen live their dreams. We process the fish of small boat family fishermen and then market that fish for sale on the AlaskaGoldBrand.com website where you can find premium-quality seafood, caught by hard-working American families.

To hear Jay’s wonderful voice introduce Seafood Producers Cooperative, watch the video below.

Living the Dream, A Fishing Family’s Lifestyle, is the story of Jay and Becky Haun and their life fishing together as Seafood Producers Cooperative members. Becky is working on putting her stories together to publish a book on living the fishing lifestyle as a woman and what it’s like to raise kids on a boat. 

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From Our Family to Yours

Father and son Fishermen.
Father and son Fishermen.

From our Family to Yours…

Seafood Producers Cooperative is made up of over 550 fishermen members, who are the owners of and stakeholders for our cooperative. Many SPC members come from families representing multiple generations with the cooperative.

Our families of fishermen strive to serve your family with the highest quality seafood available.

fishing families
Grace Clifton, SPC Member in Training

 

Over 70 years ago, a group of Alaskan halibut fishermen realized that the best way to ensure that their products were delivered with quality was to process their own fish. They formed what would become North America’s oldest and most successful fishermen’s cooperative. Fishing families representing generations with SPC have prospered by being members of the cooperative and bringing naturally wild seafood to our customers.

 

The Eliason represent 3 generations of SPC members.
The Eliason represent 3 generations of SPC members.
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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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Fisherman Spotlight: Jeremy Brown

Premium-quality seafood
Jeremy Brown, Seafood Producers Cooperative member since 1988.

Fisherman Spotlight: Jeremy Brown

The fish on AlaskaGoldBrand.com is caught by the owner/members of  Seafood Producers Cooperative. SPC is owned by over 550 members who fish the waters of the North Pacific. Each member is a small boat hook and line fisherman and owner of the cooperative, and therefore receives the benefits of ownership:

*  Product reaches a wider market than if fishermen were working on their own

*  Democratic control—each member votes on key decisions and investments made by the  cooperative

*  Use of processing facilities that pack fish for them

When you get your fish from the Alaska Gold Brand website, you get your fish from a fisherman, a member of Seafood Producers Cooperative. With each  order you receive we’ll feature a story about a different member.

Jeremy Brown has been an owner/member of Seafood Producers Cooperative since 1988. He’s very much interested in cultivating the producer-chef-eater relationship and he can wax poetic for days on the many nuances of a quality fish. He also believes that we should sell our hand-caught seafood by region and vintage, much like what wineries do.

Jeremy is a perfect example of what Dan Barber writes about in Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food, specifically in terms of elevating the voice of the producer. Barber writes: “Wild fish did not come into this world just to be our food. They came into this world to pursue their own individual destinies. If we hunt them and eat them, we must hunt them with care and eat them with the fullness of our appreciation.” It is with deep appreciation that Jeremy fishes for salmon. He treats them with respect and he knows quality when he catches and tastes what he produces. “You can tell the minute the fish is on the line if it’s going to be special.”

As fishermen, we produce the last commercially available wild food and our fishermen-owner-members harvest this food in a traditional way that respects the ingredient and in turns brings a quality product to diners. As Jeremy Brown says: “Every fish I catch is different. They’re wild animals. They all have a different life history and story. They deserve and demand to be handled and treated all the way to the consumer with that sort of devotion to the quality of the fish.”

Jeremy is originally from Cornwall, England, which you’ll hear in his voice the minute he begins to get excited talking about fish. He has travelled the world fishing, adventuring and eating. Yet with all the traveling he does, Jeremy ‘s favorite place, at least to fish, is off Lituya Bay, site of one of the biggest waves of all time. In 1958, a 1720-foot high wave, the result of an earthquake that registered 8 on the Richter scale, pulled out all of the trees, rocks and debris surrounding Lituya Bay. The place is spooky, possibly haunted, but has also served as a refuge for salmon and halibut fishermen, certainly many of them SPC members, during storms on the Fairweather Grounds. This special place is  the seaward portion of Glacier Bay National Park, which is shadowed by the Fairweather Range of the Saint Elias mountains.  It is a land rich with whale, otter, salmon, halibut, and the cultural history of the Tlingits of Southeast Alaska.

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Jeremy partners with others to longline in Southeast Alaska, but has been fishing on his own on the Barcarole for 10 years, primarily off the coast of Washington near Neah Bay and LaPush. He likes working on his own because that way he can control the process. He likes being able to perform his own quality control, respecting each fish so that it is produced for the customer in the most perfect way it can be presented.

Jeremy winters in Bellingham, Washington, where his wife is an acupuncturist and he personally delivers his fish to numerous chefs in the area, such as Blaine Wetzel at The Willows on Lummi Island, one of the world’s premier restaurants.

His favorite dishes are Kazu black cod and gravlax. “It has to be with our Alaska Gold Brand™  coho salmon fillets. Coho’s perfect for gravlax and our coho’s the best out there.”

 

 

 

 

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Fishermen in Training

Seafood Producers Cooperative is North America’s oldest fishermen’s cooperative. Many of our members can say that their parents and grandparents also fished with the cooperative and that they learned everything they know by being on the boat as kids. Here are some young fishermen in training.

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.

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. Many of our members can say that their parents and grandparents also fished with our cooperative and that they learned everything they know by being on the family boat as kids.

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Salmon Trolling with the Moores

The Aljac, a salmon trolling boat, in the waters of Southeast Alaska.
The Aljac trolling for salmon in the rips and tides in Southeast Alaska.

Jim and Pam Moore of the F/V Aljac have been Alaskan commercial fishermen since 1971.  Fishing has always been a family operation for the Moores.

Fisherman with Giant King Salmon
Jim Moore with a giant line-caught salmon from his boat The Aljac

Ever since their children were 4 months old, they have experienced the Alaskan fishing lifestyle, which has included storms at sea and lots of fish. Together, the Moores have experienced unique adventures each and every day. They’ve watched incredible sea life and gazed at wilderness scenery and, of course, they have eaten lots of fish together.

Seafood Producers Cooperative enables fishermen members, like the Moore family, to 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.

Salmon-troller-the-aljac
The Aljac trolling for salmon near the Fairweather Grounds in Southeast Alaska.

Our cooperative is built on the work of families whose livelihoods depend on the health of our waters.

Living in tight spaces has made the family tight, so tight that the Moores’ sons, Jonathan who owns the F/V Ocean Belle and Joshua, Captain of the F/V Castaway, are also fishermen and Seafood Producers Cooperative members. Below is a picture of the Moore family moored together:

The 3 boats owned by 3 Moore family members
The Moore Family Fishing Boats Moored Together.