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What is the definition of Sustainable Seafood? And how our Alaska Gold salmon is the pinnacle of proteins

Salmon Run View From Above.
Salmon Run View From Above. Photo Courtesy of Alaska Seafood

Nature, by nature, produces excess. Cut open a tomato and see how many seeds there are. Somewhere between none of these seeds and all these seeds will become a future tomato, depending on the level of desire, care and knowledge of the gardener. Beekeepers know that bees store vast excess quantities of honey to feed themselves through winter. Knowledgeable beekeepers take enough honey to satisfy their honey needs for a year but leave enough honey in the hive for the bees to sustain themselves through winter. Thereby the bees can get a good head start in spring on another season of gathering pollen and nectar, so that they can continue to produce honey for the beekeeper for the following winter.

Seafood and, most emblematically, wild salmon work in a similar way. If managed correctly, wild salmon runs produce excess and can feed us into perpetuity. Nature produces excess so that we can harvest salmon each and every season for as long as we like. That is, once again, if managed correctly by human beings, and there are plenty of examples around the world where wild salmon populations haven’t been managed well.

But the state of Alaska has written into its constitution to harvest by the sustainable yield principle, which establishes the baseline for the excess to be harvested. As a result, Wild Alaskan Salmon populations have consistently been abundant. All told, Alaska supplies more than half of the wild-caught seafood in the United States. And Alaska will always be home to the greatest salmon runs in the world, providing around 95 percent of North America’s wild salmon. All finfish from Alaska are sustainably harvested and wild by law. There is no finfish farming in Alaska, so you can count on all species from Alaska being wild caught, natural, and sustainable.

Chefs and consumers alike struggle to know what is and isn’t sustainable when it comes to seafood. There are various certifications, watch lists, and environmental group lists. It’s hard to know who to trust. In Alaska, we continue to focus on just how long our fisheries have been sustainable. Globally, Alaska is viewed as the gold standard in responsible fisheries management. As a result of the state’s commitment to sustainability, and rigorous fisheries management, no Alaska seafood species has ever been listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

In addition to being a sustainable protein that renews itself every year, Alaska salmon is packed with omega-3s, vitamin D, iron, zinc, astaxanthins, and selenium, a remarkably nutrient-dense protein. Alaska salmon is real food made by and for real people. One of the least understood aspects of the Alaska fishermen with whom we work is their deep appreciation of the environment within which they work and their extraordinary commitment to keeping their livelihoods sustainable and the habitats within which they work wild and pristine.

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What’s so special about Alaska Gold Salmon? Wild Alaskan salmon is truly a gift

Whole Wild Coho Salmon and Fillet

If you’re going to do something, you have to set your internal compass toward excellence and go for it, because nothing else matters.

I recently ate a home pack of our Alaska Gold Salmon and, as I often do afterwards, thought to myself, “Wow! This is really good stuff!”

It made me think about just how special our Alaska Gold salmon really are. It took only a bit of research to discover that…

Of the total world salmon supply sold for food, only around 12% of it is wild Alaskan. (A huge portion of the remainder is Atlantic aka farmed salmon.)

Of all the wild Alaska salmon, only about 1.5% of that is caught by the traditional hook and line methods like we use.

Of the line-caught Alaskan king salmon and coho salmon out there, 30% is from our fishermen-owned cooperative, which has been known for its fastidious attention to quality and integrity for over 70 years.

So, the salmon we catch is the best 1/20th of 1% in the world! 1/20th of 1%= 1 pound out of a ton. Which means that our Alaska Gold salmon is the best of the best of the best!

Alaska Gold salmon is caught by members of Seafood Producers Cooperative, a fishermen-owned co-op based in Sitka, Alaska. We have immense pride in serving our customers the finest king salmon and coho salmon available.

Rich and buttery, our wild king salmon portions are our most popular offering. Available in boxes of 6-portion, 5-pound and 10-pound boxes. Fill your freezer or get a group of friends to have our discounted 20-pound box of  king salmon portions delivered to your home. We also have ivory (white) king salmon , in addition to our absolutely delicious canned Southeast Alaska Line-Caught Ivory King Salmon.

More than any fish we catch coho salmon is arguably the heart and soul of our region and our fishermen-owned co-op. Each summer coho salmon return to the thousands of tiny creeks that stream through the ancient trees of the Tongass Rain Forest, which makes up a good part of southeast Alaska. You can watch them jump up waterfalls, giving it their all, with the aim of returning to a little pool to spawn. Our fishermen catch each wild coho salmon One Hook One Fish At A Time on the ocean at their peak, then dress and ice each salmon to keep them in perfect condition until they reach our customers. Available in boxes of 6 portions, 5 pounds and 10 pounds, we also have fill-your-freezer larger, discounted boxes of bulk coho salmon portions, too.

“You don’t grow old eating Alaska Gold.” The nutrients in salmon are many and it’s no wonder we can fish through the long 16-hour days of the salmon season. Wild Alaskan Salmon is truly a gift. Each year they keep coming back to take care of us and keep us nourished through the winter.

As a fishermen-owned co-op, we’ve been part of Alaska and the Pacific Northwest for a long time and we look forward to delivering you the highest quality seafood.

Click on this photo to see the story of our line-caught wild Alaskan salmon.

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Why wild? Why Alaska?—– Wild Alaska Salmon

Salmon returning to Indian River in downtown Sitka, Alaska.

“The bears, eagles, and trees here in Southeast are the salmon […] These forests are where the ocean comes to die–and to be reborn.”

The Salmon in the Trees by Amy Gulick

If you’ve ever been to Southeast Alaska in the late summer, you know that it’s just teeming with life. Bears are out. Birds are flocking to the skies. Whale spouts aren’t difficult to spot. Snow-capped mountains, endless bays and inlets fill the landscape. The rivers are full of salmon returning to spawn. And these salmon are precisely the reason behind all of the other life that comes out to play during the Alaska summer.

The salmon are the fertilizer upon which all other things grow. As a keystone species in the Tongass Rainforest in Southeast Alaska, salmon bring marine nutrients inland and provide an important food resource for a variety of animals. They also increase the productivity of nearby plants and forests. Mammals from mice to grizzly bears feast on spawning salmon. So do bald eagles and ravens, as do many other birds.Birds and mammals fly off with or drag carcasses into surrounding forests, bringing marine-derived nutrients for the forests around salmon-bearing streams, which tend to be much healthier when salmon are present. 137 species in the Tongass Rainforest depend on wild salmon!

Wild Alaska salmon is the canary in the coal mine for the entire region. Wild salmon is the pulse of places like the Tongass Rain Forest in Southeast Alaska. And eating wild salmon caught by small boat fishermen from Southeast Alaska supports these coastal communities and ecosystems. 

 

Brown Bear.
Brown Bear.

Salmon, like other wild seafood, is the last commercially available wild meat. Watching a salmon jump up a ten-foot waterfall illustrates the wildness that’s part of us. It’s the pure joy. Pure life in its most elemental form. When we eat this wild salmon, we’re being infused with this wild energy. That is the essence of wild Alaska salmon. 

Despite thriving salmon fisheries in Alaska that could easily feed the entirety of the nation and then some, more than three-quarters of it is exported. We, as Americans, are not getting our recommended 2-3 heart-healthy seafood servings per week, while Alaska is literally the wild seafood breadbasket of the world. The good stuff literally swims away.   

Humpback whale tale.
Humpback whale tale. Photo by EmmaFrisch.com

Wild Southeast Alaska.
Wild Southeast Alaska.

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One Fish At A Time

Troll-caught Salmon

The Beauty of Line-caught Salmon

We small boat hook and line fishermen catch and process each fish One Hook One Fish At A Time. Hook and line fishing, otherwise known as trolling for salmon, is a traditional way of fishing that results in an extremely high quality salmon. Our line-caught wild salmon are caught, bled, processed and put on ice within minutes of being caught. Our catch methods and handling procedures are unparalleled in the industry.

This video illustrates what is special about fishing with hook and line methods.

The first great benefit of a line-caught wild salmon is that a salmon caught on hook and line is by definition actively feeding and therefore at the peak of their quality and especially loaded with the healthy nutrients that we associate with wild salmon. The second great attribute of a line-caught wild salmon is the great care put into making the fish special, as catching fish on hook and line gives the fisherman time to take care of the fish.

Here’s how it works:

Each of us fishermen has techniques that we have gained over many years and sometimes passed along in families through generations of fishing. Using our knowledge of where freely migrating and actively feeding fish might be, we fishermen head out in our boats and, once at waters we deem to be appropriate for weather and tide conditions, troll with lures or baited hooks at slow speeds. Typically, we try to troll at the speed that the salmon we are catching would be swimming. This not only makes the lures more appealing but minimizes stress on the fish, making for a better quality fish. Minimizing stress on the fish reduces the amount of lactic acid released in the fish, which can cause an off flavor. Through years of trial and error, we fishermen have found the right combination of line, lures and boat speeds to find the right fish. Then, with great care, handling each fish as if it were to be served on our own dinner tables, take the fish we catch back to town for delivery at our fishermen-owned fish plant.

We hook and line fishermen have a deep connection with the ocean and an expansive knowledge of where and how to find the biting salmon. Once a fish is on the line, we frequently know what type of fish it is and how big it might be. We minimize bycatch with our knowledge of where to fish and by pinpointing species with the right lures. We bring the fish to the boat and deliver it onto the boat at the exact moment to avoid any damage to the fish. Once aboard, we bleed and gut the fish immediately. We then quickly ice or  freeze the fish capturing the fish in its freshest state so that you can enjoy the highest quality seafood on land.

Our One Fish At A Time philosophy produces the best quality wild-caught salmon and is good for the overall health of the fisheries. Here’s a video on our Good Catch. 

 

Troll-caught salmon