National Fisherman


Copper River salmon netted their annual red-carpet treatment when the much-heralded fish, after fighting their way 300 miles upstream against strong icy currents to their spawning grounds in south-central Alaska, touched down at Sea-Tac Airport last Friday morning. You'd'a thought an actual king had come a-calling.

Jon Rowley remembers well the days when the Copper River king ended up frozen for export to Japan or canned, fetching mere pennies—certainly nowhere near the $65 the celebrated fish hooked Friday evening at Ray's Boathouse. (Copper River sockeye went for $38 at the upstairs cafe.) "Oh, yes, it has all snowballed," says Rowley, adding with a chuckle, "Now it seems like it's too big for its britches."

Rowley is the mastermind of the Copper River salmon boom, one of the marketing geniuses who turned this oily, fat-bellied thoroughbred into aquatic gold. A lifelong scholar of the seafood industry from harvest to table who began his career as a commercial fisherman more than 30 years ago, Rowley got the bandwagon rolling. The year: 1983.

He'd tasted the fish years before, and knew there was something different, something deliciously and delicately tender, about it. "I was working as a consultant for four restaurants in Seattle—McCormick's Fish House, Ray's, Triples, and another owned by [Victor] Rossellini.

"I told them I was working on a project in Alaska with a gill-netter from Cordova named Tommy Thompson that would result in bringing to market here the best salmon in the world."

The four restaurants ordered a total of only 400 pounds. It was all an experiment, recounts Rowley, now a contributing editor to Saveur. "So I had it flown down on Alaska Air and had it delivered. They put it on the menu at Ray's, and I remember the waiters kept coming back to the kitchen, going, 'My God, the customers are saying they've never had salmon like that in their life.'

Read the full story at the Seattle Weekly>>

Inside the Industry

The following was released by the Maine Department of Marine Resources on Jan. 22:

The Maine Department of Marine Resources announced an emergency regulation that will support the continued rebuilding effort in Maine’s scallop fishery. The rule, effective January 23, 2016, will close the Muscle Ridge Area near South Thomaston and the Western Penobscot Bay Area.

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Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, which governs commercial and recreational fishing in the state, got a new boss in January. Charlie Melancon, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislator, was appointed to the job by the state’s new governor, John Bel Edwards.

Although much of his non-political work in the past has centered on the state’s sugar cane industry, Melancon said he is confident that other experience, including working closely with fishermen when in Congress, has prepared him well for this new challenge.

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