Providing a living wage for our fishermen is a core value at Sitka Salmon Shares. We have always sought to develop a better model that provides greater value and stability for our fishermen. What this means is that we offer 16-20% over dock price but sometimes pays up to twice the dock price for undervalued species that our members love. We balance getting fish to our customers for a reasonable cost, and paying fishermen a fair price for their catch. Because small-boat fishermen face unprecedented financial risk thanks to global challenges such as climate change, Sitka Salmon Shares came up with a method—dubbed the Fishermen Fund—to generate value for our fishermen independent of fish prices. Read on to learn more, join us for our "Inside the Wild" webinar series or purchase a shirt. All proceeds from the webinar and shirt sales go to the Fishermen Fund.
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About the Fishermen Fund
As our members know, helping to ensure a living wage and fair prices for our hard-working fishermen is a core value at Sitka Salmon Shares. Similar to family farmers, small-boat fishermen face tremendous risk and uncertainty in their seasonal and annual income. Their income fluctuates based on environmental conditions and management decisions which dictate how much fish can be harvested, as well as domestic and global market conditions that determine how much they will be paid for their harvest.
Since our inception, Sitka Salmon Shares has sought to develop a different model that provides greater value and stability for our fishermen. Critical to this model is our fully domestic, direct-to-consumer market which brings a share of our fishermen’s harvest to our members. This means we only rely on you, not a restaurant or broker, to create market demand for our fishermen. When you buy a share, you are generating that demand, and helping us build this market.
This market demand, combined with our ownership structure and having our own processor, allows us to create value for our fishermen in important ways. Each of our 22 fishermen-owners owns shares in the company, and this investment grows in value as the Company strengthens. Our goal is to pay dividends on these investments in the next three years which will equate to revenue added directly to our fishermen’s bottom line.
The second key way we create value is higher fish prices paid to our fishermen. The Company typically averages 16-20% over dock price but sometimes pays up to twice the dock price for undervalued species. Because we are a small processor, our fishermen can incur additional expense and take extra measures (like shorter fishing trips) to get high quality fish to our members. The dock price importantly helps compensate them for those sacrifices and extra efforts. When market prices dive due to decreased global demand as we are seeing now due to COVID-19, the price we pay to our fishermen remains stable and the driving force behind our model truly shines. For example, dock prices for halibut dropped swiftly since the start of the season with our price now 42% above what other processors in Sitka are paying. The halibut market has been hit particularly hard, and we are especially proud to be able to offer a fair price to our fishermen in these times.
Regardless of market conditions, we are constantly balancing the competing goals of getting fish to our customers for a reasonable cost, and paying fishermen a higher price for their catch. For a values-based company, this a tough balancing act and one that we are constantly working to refine and improve. We don’t want to drive up costs for members and we don’t want to drive down prices for fishermen. We also want to pay our employees fairly, provide them with adequate paid time off, give back to fisheries conservation, support efforts to address climate change, and do this all while generating enough profit to build a strong company that can sustain itself over time. This is the ultimate and enduring challenge for a values-based company like ours.
One new solution to this challenge is our newly launched Fishermen Fund. This fund represents a method, independent of fish prices, to creatively generate value for our fishermen as well as for our members. Starting April 2020, we will be creating new ways for our members to support our fishermen. This will include through purchase of these awesome t-shirts designed by Allie Spurlock, one of our fleet members. In the future, we hope to provide a way for our members to contribute directly to the Fishermen Fund through our website when you purchase a share, special sale box, or just want to give back.
Our current plan is for the Fishermen Fund to be evenly distributed across our fleet members, providing them additional income with no strings attached. We will continue working with our fishermen’s committee on ways to fairly and effectively place these funds where they are most needed.
While the exceptional circumstances related to the novel coronavirus spurred quick action to set up the fund, its creation has been on our minds for many months with climate change as a driving force. The market impacts of COVID-19 have been abrupt and dramatic, but we also know that the impacts of climate change will persist long into the future. This double threat of market instability and increasing ecosystem instability mean that now more than ever, our small boat fishermen need support. Thank you for being a part of our community and working with us for a better future for our fleet, food systems, communities, and oceans!
Sitka Salmon Shares Swag
Shirts and hoodies sport an original illustration by one of our fishermen-owners. Artist Allie Spurlock is a Sitka Salmon Shares fleet member, who is an exceptional baker and artist in her spare time. All proceeds from the swag sales goes to the Sitka Salmon Shares Fishermen Fund. We even have youth sizes!
Have Additional Questions?
FAQ for Shirts
When will I get my swag?
Look underneath the “Add to Cart” button on the Bonfire sale page to find out when your shirt will ship. If you have already purchased some swag, the arrival date will be in your order confirmation email.
Why is the shipping date a few weeks away?
Shirts are printed in bulk in order to keep costs down.
Can I get my swag with different designs? Or are there any other color options?
Hoodies and shirts come with the “Alaskan Fishermen Keep America Fed” graphic while hats will sport our standard logo. Right now, we’re only able to offer the colors shown on this page.
I’m a Sitka Salmon Shares Sustainer. Can I use my account credit to purchase shirts?
Since we are using a third party vendor, unfortunately sustainers cannot use their account credit to purchase shirts.
I have a question about my shirt order. Who do I contact?
You should contact Bonfire customer service here.
Last, but certainly not least, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your ongoing support for our fishermen. Our mission and vision for a better seafood system wouldn't be possible without your help! Of course, you can also support our fishermen and our mission by enrolling in our community supported fishery (CSF). Feel free to follow the link below to view our share options.