Sitka Salmon Shares: The New Farm-to-Table is Boat-to-Table

By Jessie Caines

All photographs by Kelley Jordan

Our biggest success has been telling the story of small scale providers and really having people connect to that
— Marsh Skeele
blackcod

Marsh Skeele went from a small-scale fisherman and lover of good food to a key player in America’s sustainable food industry.  While throwing dinner parties in Sitka, Skeele connected with Nicolaas Mink, a college professor working on his doctorate in Alaksa.  Over the celebration of good food the two conceived the idea for Sitka Salmon Shares, a sustainable seafood company that would eventually grow to connect Alaska fishermen and their catch with fish-loving consumers around the Midwest

Sitka Salmon Shares is the only fully-integrated seafood company – or Community Supported Fishery (CSF) – that ships directly from boat to customer (better yet, doorstep). This was shocking to me, as so many companies and restaurants boast to have sustainably sourced fish.  According to Skeele, most fish are stored aboard fishing boats on the fishing boats for several days (so the boat can stay on the water longer) before being brought to land and frozen, where they are then likely shipped whole to Asia to be defrosted, filleted, and refrozen.  From there, the fish are sold to wholesale retailers in the US, who in turn ship it to your locality. The lack of oversight on labeling means that many companies say their fish is from the US, no matter if the international food miles it takes to get to your table are immense. and in direct conflict with the assumptions about the label. Contrary to most seafood companies, Sitka Salmon Shares enforces fishing and preservation tactics that prioritize sustainability and quality, something rarely done in today’s market.

Many people think one must sacrifice cost to afford quality sustainable food.  Skeele’s recommendations for accessing quality ingredients on a budget are: (1) stop buying processed foods, (2) learn how to cook, (3) buy staples, and (4) purchase directly from producers.

Sitka Salmon Shares protects the fishing reservoir they draw from by supporting local fisherman and sustainable harvest practices. Skeele stressed the importance of this commitment, as Alaska’s waters are some of the last healthy fishing ecosystems in the world. We hope to see Sitka Salmon Shares continue to grow, and for their sustainability efforts to grow with them.

Interested in becoming a member of Sitka Salmon Shares?  Use promo code NextBites817 through September 10th to receive $25 off any 2017 season share. 

 

Tips and Recommendations from Marsh Skeele:

(1) If the bands of fat on your salmon cutlet are homogeneous, it was raised in a fishery, as this does not happen naturally in the wild.

(2) Must Read - Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food by Paul Greenberg

(3) Must Watch: the documentary “DamNation” and "Last Man Fishing" (the later is directly supported by Sitka Salmon Shares!)

(4) Recommended restaurants: Found, the Barn, Lula, Elizabeth, Heartland Café

If you wish to know more, check out the Sitka Salmon Shares website at https://sitkasalmonshares.com/ or contact them at salmonsupport@sitkasalmonshares.com