Trusted Partner Profile
Established in 1917, Haines Packing Company is the longest continually running seafood processor in Southeast Alaska and has been family run for generations. Sitka Salmon Shares chose Haines Packing Company as a trusted partner to provide our members with salmon from the Chilkat and Chilkoot Rivers. These watersheds produce the largest runs of sockeye in Southeast Alaska and also support coho and keta runs, emptying into the majestic Lynn Canal, the deepest fjord in North America. At over 2,000 feet deep, Lynn Canal hosts all five species of Pacific salmon as well as halibut and Dungeness crab.
Together with his wife, Genny, Harry Rietze has been running Haines Packing since 2013, when he bought the company from his father and uncle. “Sitka Salmon Shares has been a great partner for Haines Packing and our fishermen,” Rietze says. “We both value a quality product for our customers and we complement each other logistically with a plant on each end of Southeast Alaska to accommodate multiple fisheries.”
Rietze took extraordinary precautions to protect his workers during the pandemic. “We have been extremely fortunate with the effects of COVID-19. We implemented a closed campus for the season to reduce traffic in and out of our facility,” says Rietze. “Our crew did an amazing job of mask-wearing and vigilant hand-washing to help reduce risk.”
By sourcing from small-boat fishermen in the Chilkat and Chilkoot river system and treating workers with dignity, Haines Packing operates according to the core values of Sitka Salmon Shares.
Habitat & Community
The Chilkat and Chilkoot Rivers have sustained Tlingit communities since time immemorial. Jones Hotch, a Tlingit tribal leader from nearby Klukwan, described the importance of the wild salmon habitat to High Country News. “You guys might have your Safeway,” Hotch said, gesturing his hand across the valley. “There’s ours all around here.”
The Chilkat River is under threat by a proposed mining development upstream from Klukwan and Haines. The mine, known as the Palmer Project, worries locals and environmental activists who want to defend critical habitat.
Shannon Donahue has lived in Haines since 2010 and is a Chilkat Watershed Organizer with the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC). She wants to preserve the rich habitat of the region. “As soon as I got here, I felt at home,” she says. “The Chilkat Valley is arguably the most biologically diverse valley in all of Alaska because it is on the edge of a temperate rainforest, and the fjord goes so far inland it almost meets up with the subarctic ecosystem just north of here.”
Know Your Author
Dr. Jonathan Wlasiuk is the director of research and writing at Sitka Salmon Shares. He has taught at universities throughout the Great Lakes and writes about the social and ecological impact of business decisions.