This weekend, while perusing Chowhound, I came across a post entitled Where should I buy wild salmon? It mentioned a wild salmon CSA, and as a lover of wild caught salmon, it certainly caught my eye.
The salmon is caught by the Iliamna Fish Company, a third-generation family-owned cooperative based in Alaska. They follow the natural spawning season of the salmon, and catch the fish in late June and early July in Bristol Bay. Members of the CSA will receive 12 pounds of flash-frozen sockeye salmon in late August, at a pickup location in Brooklyn.
Wild Sockeye is deep red in color and has the highest levels of omega-3 in the salmon family. It’s high in protein, has plenty of good fat, and minerals. It’s also delicious!
So how sustainable is are the methods for catching this fish? According to their website, “Iliamna Fish Company sockeye salmon are Marine Stewardship Council certified-signifying the ocean, rivers and lake where our wild sockeye grow are part of a healthy and pure marine ecosystem.” As far as the way they are caught, the fish are caught by small boats (4 feet deep and 20 feet long) in set nets:
The process of set netting might be compared to tying a sheet to a clothesline in the wind. Nets are “set,” or anchored, perpendicular to the shore, usually in 25-fathom increments. The top of the net, floated by white synthetic corks, is tied to a line running between fixed anchors at both ends. The bottom of the net is a heavy, weighted line that sinks below the surface of the water.
Between the floating line and the weighted line, the webbing of the net billows with the strong current of the tide. As fish move up and downstream with the tide, they are caught in the billowing, curved “basket” formed by the tide and net. Fish are either ensnared at their heads, by catching their gills in the webbing, or they are caught lying broadside, ungilled-held in the “basket” of the net by the tidal current.
More about Iliamna’s set nets can be found here.
They also work with the biologists that monitor the streams in the area, and only after they determine there is enough fish does the Iliamna crew head in for the catch. This ensures there is no overfishing and that salmon will be here for years to come. They also support the work of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the Marine Stewardship Council, Ecotrust, and Salmon Nation.
So, come August I should have 12 pounds of sustainably-fished, wild-caught sockeye in my freezer! I’ll be enjoying salmon throughout the fall and winter, I expect. I’m really excited about this! I will certainly report back on the quality of the fish this fall.