Trawlers dragging their nets in the Gulf of Alaska out-of-sight over the horizon from most state ports may be catching and killing more king salmon than the residents of the 49th state would like, but don’t worry. The fish aren’t going to waste.
They’re going to feed the homeless in Seattle and elsewhere in the state of Washington.
Stephanie Madsen, executive director for the Seattle-based At-Sea Processors Association, explained to the state House Special Committee on Fisheries this past week that Alaska bycatch salmon are shipped south to SeaShare, an organization that bills itself as “The Seafood Industry’s Answer to Hunger.” Seashare passes the salmon on to Food LifeLine.
Washington food banks benefit
Food LifeLine, in turn, distributes food to 300 food banks and shelters in western Washington, including a considerable number in Seattle. “Food LifeLine, our local partner, moved almost 500,000 pounds of high-protein fish last year,” the SeaShare website says.
“Currently, SeaShare in Seattle is signed up to get the fish because our ships go from Dutch Harbor to Seattle,” Madsen told the committee.
Madsen’s comments come in the wake of a summer of poor king salmon returns to most Alaska rivers. The low returns forced closures of subsistence, commercial and sport fisheries across the state. Commercial setnetters on the Kenai Peninsula went broke after the Alaska Department of Fish and Game decided king runs were so weak that those fishermen couldn’t be allowed any king salmon bycatch. The setnetters target sockeye salmon — of which there are millions — but inevitably catch several hundred kings in the process.
Because they have yet to find a clean way to fish sockeye and not catch kings, the state shut them down, along with the in-river sport fishery for kings, which put a lot of fishing guides on the beach for the summer and sent impacts rippling through the Kenai tourism industry.
Read the full story at the Alaska Dispatch>>