Great fishermen handle each fish as they would
one caught for their own family.
- Accountability and transparency
At Sitka Salmon Shares, we believe that sustainable food systems are built on the principles of accountability and transparency. Many of our members come to us because they know our current seafood system is broken—filled with rampant fraud, poor-quality fish, and, frankly, deceit. Almost monthly, a new study appears that suggests that somewhere between 20 and 60 percent of U.S. fish is mislabeled. This is a moral and ethical failure, produced by an opaque system that seizes opportunities to put profits ahead of the health of consumers and fishermen alike. We don't believe that this type of system is sustainable, which is why we commit ourselves to educating our members about the process of harvesting and distributing their fish. We most often do this through emails, social media, and newsletters, but we also bring our fishermen to the Midwest. Having our fishermen here allows our members to get even closer to the source of their food. This type of transparency makes our fishermen and our members more accountable to one another. Our members gain a better understanding of the challenges of small-boat fishing, and in turn, our fishing families produce the type of fish that can only come from knowing the end user.
- Community is more than commerce
At Sitka Salmon Shares, we believe that resilient (some might say stubborn) communities are the bedrock of a healthy, sustainable food system. This understanding goes back more than a century to when farmers on the Great Plains organized as the Grangers to advocate for better prices for their crops. Today, this type of thinking is directly tied to the Community Supported Agriculture and Fishery movements. We are deliberate about building communities of consumers in the Midwest that will allow traditional fishing communities in Southeast Alaska to continue to thrive. The communities we establish in the Midwest encourage new opportunities for neighbors, colleagues, family, and friends to convene and connect. We do our part by creating videos, hosting dinners, BBQs, and cooking classes, and writing newsletters. Our fishermen travel to meet our members and, one day, our members may travel to Sitka to further build these ties.
- Fairness to Fishing Families
At Sitka Salmon Shares, every single fish you eat has been individually caught and processed by one of our fishermen-owners. Through ownership, our fishermen achieve greater independence and have more autonomy than if they were to sell to other fish processors that would send their catch off to impersonal and distant commodity markets. They’re a part of, not apart from, our system. We think this helps us achieve a food system that is fair for the people who produce our food. As owners, our fishermen retain about 20 percent more of the final retail value of their harvest. Because of our members who pay up front for a share of their harvest, our fishing families also have access to the capital necessary to begin their seasons, which ultimately provides them with the financial flexibility to operate effectively in a seasonal enterprise.
- Healthy fish and habitat
At Sitka Salmon Shares, we understand that the world is facing declining fish populations—a consequence largely tied to the practice of chronic overfishing. That’s why our fishing families use fishing methods that minimize negative ecological impacts associated with harvest. Apart from spot prawns and sockeye, which eat too low on the food chain to be caught this way, all of the species our fishermen harvest are caught individually, using hook-and-line methods. Moreover, Alaska’s sustainable fisheries management system is the envy of the world. Management in Alaska relies on population models, dynamic commercial fishing windows that respond to fishery returns, and strict catch limits to ensure that populations are managed for the cultural and culinary enjoyment of future generations. Additionally, to account for the fish that we ship from Alaska, we purchase carbon offsets, which are put towards wind energy research and development efforts here in the Midwest. We also return 1 percent of our revenue to fisheries conservation efforts.