The Catch Sitka Salmon Shares Member Newsletter April 2022

The Catch - April 2022

Every Food Has a Story

First mate Artemis on board the F/V Apollo. Photo by Kelley Schuyler.

Hey Salmonsharsians!

The story of food in our household generally begins this time of year. Another Wisconsin winter has (hopefully) come to pass, and my family shifts our attention towards gardening and fishing. 

By now, my wife, our boys, and I have started our tomato, pepper, and cabbage seeds. In another month, we’ll transplant these seedlings to our garden, where we will continue to nurture their growth. 

Come summer we’ll enjoy garden fresh tomatoes, crisp peppers, and a bountiful cabbage harvest. My kids will explore the garden with their friends and share memories of starting seeds and choosing the varieties out of the seed catalog with mom and dad. 

I’ll also be helping my good friend, Jim, prep his boat and fishing gear for another season of salmon trolling on Lake Michigan. These salmon are the distant cousins of the Pacific salmon most of you have come to know and enjoy. Coho salmon, king salmon, and rainbow trout caught just a couple miles from my home in Port Washington will make their way to my freezer or be prepared as “salmon nuggets” for my kids—often just a few hours after being caught! 

This lifestyle has already fostered a deep sense of appreciation for good ingredients in my young children. And while we don’t grow, raise, or produce everything we consume, my boys are more aware of the energy, effort, and time we’ve invested in nourishing our bodies. 

This sense of connectedness keeps our family grounded in these activities, and I encourage you all to create or join the food stories that you would like to be a part of. 

Stay wild! 

—Cam Pauli, senior manager of content creative



When he isn't directing our content, you can find Cam gardening or fishing in Port Washington, WI.

 




A Sitka Subsistence Lifestyle

Fisherman Jeff Farvour doesn’t care for the spotlight. He doesn’t have a social media account and is just as happy having his dog and fishing companion, Artemis, get all the attention. “Because I’m a commercial fisherman that primarily hook-and-line trolls for salmon, I’ve been social distancing since before it was the thing to do,” Jeff quipped at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.

 

Fisherman-Advocate


All joking aside, Jeff is one of the most engaged commercial fishermen in Southeast Alaska. Although you won’t find him on Facebook, he has cultivated a deep network of fishermen, scientists, and policy makers since becoming a commercial fisherman in 1989. Jeff served eight years on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council’s Advisory Panel, he is the vice president of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association and is a fisherman-owner at Sitka Salmon Shares. When he isn’t trolling for salmon or long-lining for halibut, he pores over the minutes or attends the meetings of the International Pacific Halibut Commission, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, the Alaska Board of Fisheries and other forums to protect small-boat, community-based fisheries. He will casually cite the latest studies and reports on salmon populations published by the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission mid-sentence.

“Wintertime is the big meeting time,” Jeff says. “This is when all the decisions are made by all those folks who, with fisherman’s input, design our fisheries, and it’s really exciting, intense, and really busy.” This is unglamourous work, but Jeff says it’s critical to maintaining a vibrant small-boat, commercial fishing industry.  There are only so many fish in the sea we can catch sustainably, and without the advocacy of fishermen like Jeff, the share allocated to small-boat fishermen would dwindle. “If we’re not advocates, we’d have been done a long time ago. We would have been put out of business by competing interests,” Jeff says.


Jeff understands all the other interests lining up for a shot at the resources needed to stay in business. Sport fishermen and large-boat trawlers all battle for allocation of a finite supply of fish. Small-boat fishermen also have to fight over limited space on land as well. “Our working waterfront would be condos and cruise ships” without the vigilance of fishermen.”And that’s actually happening in Sitka,” Jeff says. “So unless you’re an advocate, you lose your working waterfront, you lose your fish, you lose everything.”

Subsistence Lifestyle


“All of my protein comes from the land and sea here,” Jeff says. “I don’t buy any at the store and I want to keep it that way.” During the spring and summer, Jeff is focused on finding and catching as many fish as is sustainably possible to maintain his business and way of life.

Each year in the state of Alaska, residents participate in harvesting a share of wild fish and game for “customary and traditional use.” From this, commercial fishermen like Jeff take a share of their own catch for personal use, what is called a “home pack.” Jeff certainly gets his fill of wild seafood, but says he is always looking to the land during the height of salmon season in the summer. “I can't wait till the summer portion of the season is over to go deer hunting and getting up in the alpine,” Jeff says. “To spend a few days up in the alpine … that’s probably one of the most magical, dreamy things that we fantasize about while fishing.”


During fishing season, Jeff's thoughts turn to the hunting prospects on land.

Jeff also freedives during the winter to round out his subsistence activities. Diving during a winter in Alaska may sound extreme, but Jeff explains how technology makes it easy. “Once you get a good wet suit, like a spear-diving suit, it's pretty darn comfortable.” These subsistence activities draw Jeff closer to his community. He dives with friends and shares his bounty with neighbors. “I eat about three deer a year and I give a little away and share it with my crew in the summer,” Jeff says. “I have a quality subsistence lifestyle and I want to live in a community where I can do that and contribute to that community.”

Building a Better Seafood System


Jeff’s story illustrates why shoreline communities throughout Alaska share a common fate with small-boat fishermen. Fishing and hunting connect Jeff to the land and sea as well as his community. That connection represents a form of knowledge necessary to the future survival of wild animals and the communities who rely on them. 

Fishermen-owners like Jeff Farvour anchor Sitka Salmon Shares to the values of sustainability, community, and advocacy. “We have a fisherman-owner component that’s cut across every aspect of the company, from this conversation we're having to securing a supply chain,” Jeff says toward the end of our interview. 


No one wants to pay more for food, but Jeff’s story reminds us that a better seafood system requires a lot of work that hasn’t traditionally been captured in the price you pay at checkout. “At the end of the day, I want stability and resiliency for my fishing community,” Jeff says. “That’s the number one goal, and how we do it is critical. It’s got to be done in a proven way that is respectful to the other components in the community.” 

By connecting seafood lovers to fishermen like Jeff who fight to secure a future for wild foods, Sitka Salmon Shares is building a better seafood system for consumers, fishermen, and populations of wild animals that we all depend on. Thank you for your support!

 


Grace in the Kitchen

For many years, my summer vacations centered around visiting my in-laws in their coastal New England home. They were idyllic times, spent mostly outdoors in the sun, sea, and sand. Long, lazy days left plenty of time for leisure activities, among them, fishing, at least until my kids were born. Who had time to stand at the shore and surfcast for hours on end hoping to bring in a battle-ready bluefish or a feisty striper? Not me and certainly not with antsy kids in tow.

But foraging was altogether different. The promise of a perfectly ripe blackberry or wild grape is intoxicating to a child and incentive enough to get them to walk
just a little further. Discovering a hidden patch of spring-fed watercress (too peppery for little tongues) was thrilling, especially when it meant squishing mud between their toes. Eventually, electronic devices were too much to compete with, which dovetailed nicely with my increased need for tween-free vacation time, and I was free to forage at will. 

Blackberries, wild grapes, beach plums, wild apples, and rugosa rosehips are ubiquitous in New England and make amazing jams and jellies, which I made the old-fashioned way—just sugar and fruit. My goal was to only buy sugar and new canning lids with fresh gaskets for safe preserving. Everything else was either foraged or reused from previous years. Currently, I’ve gone down the wild mushroom rabbit hole. 

The endless pursuit of finding free food never gets old for me, wherever I am. In fact, this month I’ll be urban-foraging with “Wildman” Steve Brill in Brooklyn where I’ve seen wild rhubarb, garlic mustard, purslane, and lots of mushrooms during my early morning trail runs. Maybe I’ll even pick some!


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Simply email your questions to askgrace@sitkasalmonshares.com for a personal response from Grace, or better yet, a video demonstrating or highlighting her response.