Salmon Sitka Shares: True Wild and the Evolving Landscape of Seafood in the Midwest
Sitka Salmon Shares
Small-boat fishermen are the heart of the ocean just as small farms are the heart of the Midwest. Now, the fisherman and the farmer have something to talk about and it's about to get wild.
Wild can differ greatly in meaning from one person to the next. Wild, to a young child, might be taking a precarious step on the jungle gym and conquering a fear. To a hydrobiologist it might mean the unrestricted flow of an ephemeral river into the mighty Mississippi. And to a small group of fishing families in Sitka, Alaska, that fish with the company, Sitka Salmon Shares, wild simply means seafood—line caught, traditional, traceable, transparent, real, sacred and delicious wild seafood. Wild is a way of life, and while the term is subjective in almost every way, most people can agree wild is good, wild is innate and wild needs protection, sometimes from the very species protecting it.
Enter the landscape, Sitka Salmon Shares. This unconventional company has forged itself into a 100 percent traceable and sustainable, vertically integrated, boat-to-doorstep community-supported fishery. Here’s how:
- 100 percent traceable – Means tracing the exact fish to the exact boat that caught it and knowing the exact fishing grounds where it was caught. No secrets. No mystery.
- Vertically integrated – Means Sitka Salmon Shares owns and controls their entire seafood supply chain. From hook to fillet knife to the trucks delivering the fish, Sitka Salmon Shares can monitor the whole process. Furthermore, this high-quality ocean protein is sold directly to the consumer—all 6,000 members of the Sitka Salmon Shares community.
- Boat-to-doorstep – Means what it sounds like. They bring the world’s most premium seafood directly to the front door of their members’ homes every month.
- Community Supported Fishery (CSF) – Similar to community supported agriculture (CSA), a CSF sells a share of their seasonal product directly to its share members each month, cutting out grocery stores, precious shelf time, senseless packaging and the unnecessary carbon footprint.
All of this allows people to go right to the source for their food. Getting to know your farmer and your fisherman could be the greatest thing you do for yourself, your family and Mother Earth.
Sitka Salmon Shares believes that everyone should have access to responsibly harvested fish that tastes as delicious as the day it was caught. They also believe in supporting the community that stewards this ocean resource. This belief is catalyzed by approaching business from an education-first platform while putting people and ecosystems in the forefront. Apparently, this triple bottom line approach works because as the company approaches 2020, they have methodically become the nation’s largest CSF from Alaska and have big plans for the future.
President Nic Mink and Vice President Marsh Skeele (a fisherman himself) would tell you that, “Largest means nothing if we aren't constantly self-regulating and integrating our model with fully sustainable and traceable practices.” What’s more, their promise, We’re Really Fishing, has encapsulated what it means to fish seasonally and sustainably in the North Pacific Ocean. This promise means that when a particular fishery, as an example, sockeye salmon, is not registering the numbers the Alaskan Department of Fish and Game deems healthy, then Sitka Salmon Shares supplements their monthly seafood share boxes with another, more healthy and sustainable salmon species, perhaps coho or keta. This promise is widely known and accepted by their members as the only true way to steward the ocean sustainably.
What is so incredible about all of this is not that premium and sustainable seafood is now available to the average person in the Midwest, or that the ecosystems producing the seafood are finally being considered to the highest degree, or even that the education surrounding the ocean’s fisheries is being presented daily to their members and the general public. Instead, the most incredible piece to this story is that people have a chance to really know their fisherman and the fishing families that catch their food. They can connect with their food. Their community comes first, a concept we all thrive on as a species. Community is at the forefront of every decision and policy the company makes and this community connection is happening at the table over more than just salmon.
Sitka Salmon Shares fish for a majority of the white fish species and more, including halibut, lingcod, Pacific cod, rockfish, spot prawns, Dungeness crab and the list goes on. This variety is at the heart of the sustainable issue. By offering a variety of 21 different fish each season, they can counter the historical fishing practice of demanding a specific type of fish any time of the year. Instead, their members support an ocean offering a plethora of delicious seafood all within the allotted seasons. Flipping the question, “What can you catch for me today?” to “What did you catch for me today?” is an approach integral to the future of our oceans.
In the end, there’s no questioning the health benefits of seafood for the human body, from long chain omega-3s for brain and cardiovascular health to vitamin D and protein for overall body health. The American Heart Association suggests eating at least two meals of seafood a week. However, the sourcing and quality of that seafood, especially in the Midwest, has been an issue, until now. Every Sitka Salmon share offers something special and unique to the member. With affordable prices and door-step delivery, coupled with professionally created recipes for each fish, Sitka Salmon Shares brings the community to the fish and the fish to the community.
For more information, visit SitkaSalmonShares.com or on Facebook and Instagram @SitkaSalmonShares.