Exploring Alaska's Place in the Global Seafood Market

By Mili Vukich / Photography By Kelly Harrell | May 25, 2016
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Marissa Wilson

We’re young, many of us already generational fishermen, choosing to live just like our mothers and fathers, choosing the life of our mentors and captains and living within communities that pull their identities from the sea. But let’s not lie to ourselves: not all fishermen are equal, and not all involved in the fisheries are faced with the same moral obligations to the wild and our interaction with it. For something that is constantly giving, there is plenty to take away, but no resource is infinite.

The first stop on our three-city trip was the Boston Seafood Show where the big boys and girls engage in mass commerce with all forms of seafood. Our regional processors were present with their showcases of salmon, halibut, cod, pollock, crab, and any other wild Alaskan sea creature you can think of.

Julianne Curry, a prominent industry member from Petersburg who is on the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute’s salmon committee, articulated an important observation that resonated with our group. “Boston is a big eye-opener that it isn’t about us,” she said. “It’s about how they present our fish.”

And that couldn’t be more true. walking past the Alaska fish processor booths, one of our group members was appalled by how wild Alaskan salmon was showcased in comparison to the farmed Atlantic salmon. Wild salmon was difficult to find in the maze of farmed fish vendors. I couldn’t believe the amount of marketing dedicated to farmed fish, specifically salmon. It must have been a ratio of 10:1, farmed to wild. Once we had regrouped, mixed chatter raised many similar concerns. The quality of marketing is just as important as the quality of fishing.

But we didn’t furrow our eyebrows again the whole three days in Boston. Other great conversations were carried on as we met with young fishermen of East Coast fisheries, slurped urchins and oysters with local seafood company, Red’s Best, and talked with members of the Cape Cod Fisheries Trust about community access to local fisheries. There was a definite air of mutual respect amongst fishermen and fisheries defenders.

My greatest takeaway from Boston was the quick camaraderie and in-depth conversations we had with one another. It made an impression on me to be in a community with other young Alaskan folks who are equally passionate and willing to take the large strides required to protect our fishing culture and lifestyle, and to make positive changes in our communities. I’m proud to be associated with young people like this.

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