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Old 01-26-2011, 12:35 PM
3 posts, read 3,305 times
Reputation: 15


I am writing from St. Louis, Missouri and am trying to make contacts in the whole foods community in Anchorage. Our group will be sending a member to Anchorage, Alaska to purchase salmon and other wild caught fish for a small natural foods co-operative I manage in St. Louis. Our goal is to buy, process, freeze, and bring back 500 pounds of wild caught Alaskan fish.

We are a small group of families who are trying to help sustain local growers and fisherman and eat food from its healthiest and most sustainable source. We are hoping to make a local contact to support local fisherman, and not from a fish manufacturing conglomerate based in Alaska. We are particularly interested in tapping into the King Salmon run in June, but are also interested in purchasing other species of wild caught fish. A member of our co-op is willing to fly to Anchorage for a week, representing our group, and purchase and process fish purchased from local fisherman. He is particularly adept at processing wild game, and will bring his own packaging materials. For this project, we need to make both fisherman contacts for the purchase of the fresh fish, and a local meat processing business where he could rent kitchen/freezer space as he processes the fish he has bought.

Thanks for any help or recommendations you could give me in pursuing this idea! We are just a group of people who are working to change the way we look at how we buy food and who we support in the process.

Old 01-26-2011, 01:43 PM
Location: Juneau
222 posts, read 320,910 times
Reputation: 238
You might contact

Alaskans Own Seafood - The Best Investment You Will Ever Taste!

They sell shares in their Community Supported Fisheries. They operate out of Sitka.
Old 01-26-2011, 02:22 PM
20,419 posts, read 26,544,024 times
Reputation: 13114
OK--been trying to answer this one.

Is the reason you want your guy to process it himself a financial one? Because if finances are a concern, you need to know that Alaska Airlines is going to gouge you quite considerably for taking the fish back to St. Louis. And you'll have to use airline approved fish boxes...at 500 pounds finished weight you'll have ten of them.

Has your guy fileted a king salmon before? Wild game skills are great but it simply is not the same.

I admire your goals but I don't think you're going about this is the most feasible way.

I think what you're asking is for an individual commercial fisherman who sells off the docks to individuals. Certainly there are a few who do that, and yeah, you'd need to make advance contact...most prefer to sell their catch in bulk--remember, these men and women have a very short window of time in which to make their money for the season. But you should be able to find someone.

I know plenty of commercial fishermen but none in Anchorage (and I'm wondering why Anchorage) so can't make specific recommendations...just make sure whatever you buy is iced and bled. You might also pay a bit more for it---and Cook Inlet Kings are most likely going to be at an all time high next season. Be prepared to buy about 1000 pounds.

I'm really not sure at all about your plan to process it yourself. Personally, there is no way I would ever rent processing space to anyone; that space is needed by employees, especially that time of the year. There are liability concerns also--and if you're planning on selling this...some pretty serious legal concerns also. Not sure if your co op is a store or just an informal group.

The link above is a good one. Alaska is full of places such as that one. Here's another--smaller, not such a slick website, but highly recommended:

Welcome to the Taste of Alaska!
Old 01-26-2011, 09:37 PM
Location: Palmer
2,518 posts, read 5,871,932 times
Reputation: 1365
Met is right above. I used to have a one-man catcher processer. I caught, fileted and sold fresh cod. You will need to check with the "authorities" to see if what you want to do is even legal. There are some pretty strict laws concerning processing fish commercially and what you are doing is on the edge of commercial.

I don't think anyone fishes commercially out of Anchorage so you would need to go to Kenai or even better would be Cordova to pick up some Copper River Kings.

However...this becomes very expensive. You would be way ahead to purchase them from a reputable source already fileted and ready to go. Kings are often caught in small quantities so that you might not get all you want in one purchase. You might have to get them from several fishermen depending on the particular opener.

There are catcher-processors in the South East Alaska troll fleet that could provide a very superior product...but it ain't cheap. These people catch the fish one at a time and bleed them as soon as they come on board. They are handled like eggs so that there is no bruising and then they are immediately frozen or refrigerated.

If you want the very best I would arrange to have one of them ship you the fish.
Old 01-27-2011, 12:45 AM
20,419 posts, read 26,544,024 times
Reputation: 13114
Marty is right (except that Copper River Kings/Reds are over-rated).

Again, I admire your goals but I am puzzled over your game plan here.

If the salmon is to be sold in a store, what you're wanting to do is illegal. Alaskan salmon sold in retail outlets has got to by law be processed in licensed facility with trained employees under the direct supervision of a "person in charge". The required paperwork involved is fairly detailed...and it needs to be labeled in such a way that it's traceable to the exact day that it was processed (and I don't mean just a handwritten note on the label; I mean specific codes that the USDA requires us to have).

Licensed facilities are not able to lease out space to the general public; the reasoning for that is fairly simple...the same reason restaurants aren't able to lease out space for people to come in and cook their own food. It's against health regs. It's really only possible to lease the space if you've got a processor's license yourself. Besides, if you're wanting to do these things yourself for retail, you're attempting to undercut the processor and that sort of thing will get you a fast ticket out of town.

The regs are complex, I know, but they're in place for good reasons.

You could have it custom processed (but you still wouldn't be able to sell it, though it might be an option if your group is just a group of friends). A good custom processing job would cost you about $1.10 a pound incoming weight, and most custom processors will not accept fish that has not been cleaned. They are also required, by law, to have it clearly stated on the label that it has been custom processed and is not for sale.

If you are a store, you can purchase Alaskan King Salmon at wholesale prices from places other than large fishing conglomerates--Jeff's link I posted above is one of them. And if you aren't a store, he or someone like him would probably give you an okay deal on a somewhat large order. No, I'm no affiliated with his business. I do know that he has a quality product though, sells in bulk, and therefore his pricing is more reasonable than the places who specialize in selling five pound etc. packages.

Anyway--feel free to ask me more questions if you're just a small informal group of friends trying to get some salmon. If you're a retailer I have no further interest in talking with you.

Last edited by Metlakatla; 01-27-2011 at 12:58 AM..
Old 01-27-2011, 12:46 PM
Location: on top of a mountain
6,992 posts, read 10,382,445 times
Reputation: 3256
smells like it could be "bait" for a sting operation...setting the trap to see if someone will bite!
Old 01-27-2011, 01:58 PM
20,419 posts, read 26,544,024 times
Reputation: 13114
Well Blue, if that were the case they'd be more well informed than to make their questions Anchorage specific, and they'd know enough to realize that what they propose offers no benefit to fishermen or processors. Every now and then a little sting comes along from the feds (halibut cops) but those involve money.

Salmon fishermen operate under pretty close windows of time, especially during King season. They don't fish the entire season; they fish during openings during that season. Sometimes they don't know until a few hours before what and where is going to be open. It might be open, for instance, for 18 hours and then closed until Fish and Game announces the next one, and they need to be ready to go at a minute's notice. That's why they unload their catch as quickly as possible and why it's not an easy thing to buy Kings off the docks.

It's my guess that the person is involved with a retail operation and is trying to find a way around fair market prices; I also hope that the person comes back and proves me wrong on this. But the processing it themselves deal is a red flag ... but maybe they're just naive.

About this:

We are hoping to make a local contact to support local fisherman, and not from a fish manufacturing conglomerate based in Alaska.
"Fish manufacturing conglomerates" are actually supporting the local fishermen, and they're providing local and not so local jobs. They're also taking nothing away from the smaller processors, though I realize that popular urban liberal thought would have it seem exactly so. But the big processors allow the smaller ones to remain family oriented businesses.
Old 01-27-2011, 02:12 PM
Location: NC, USA
7,088 posts, read 12,698,087 times
Reputation: 3975
Looking for local fisherman recommendations

I can't help you at all, but, while we were in Seward, Betsy fell in love with Halibut and I still crave the fresh Salmon. We get very little down here and most of it says "color enhanced" which to me means,"don't eat this stuff it ain't real".
Old 01-27-2011, 05:30 PM
20,419 posts, read 26,544,024 times
Reputation: 13114
Yes, the flesh of farmed salmon is a naturally gray; they dye it to make it look "real".

The OP hasn't come back and maybe they never will, but there are a few things about the post that keep bugging me. First of all--the "big conglomerates" don't own fishing boats...they buy from fishermen themselves. Second of all..a salmon fishermen who'd sell you kings off the dock is doing you a favor, not the other way around. Third--there are some very sketchy legalities involved in even buying the fish as a private non processing individual. They cannot be sold to you whole in large quantities. And there's also a little matter of fish tickets that commercial boats are supposed to have for everything caught....

What Marty did was legal because he processed the fish right there on his own boat and I presume he had the proper lisence to do so. Same with the guys in SE who do similar things with salmon.

Anyway, I'm almost convinced that this thread is a not very well thought out attempt to get cheap King salmon under the guise of "helping local fishermen".
Old 01-27-2011, 06:31 PM
Location: Alaska
1,437 posts, read 4,232,205 times
Reputation: 929
Originally Posted by Metlakatla View Post
Anyway, I'm almost convinced that this thread is a not very well thought out attempt to get cheap King salmon under the guise of "helping local fishermen".
My thought exactly, it smelled to me that someone was try to bypass a middleman.
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