Bellingham, WA & The Salish Sea
Bellingham, WA & The Salish Sea
Lead By: IAN KIROUAC, SIERRA MONTOYA, KEITH CARPENTER & STAN BIANCHI
Fishing Grounds: Pacific Coast, Skagit River, Lumi Island, Haro Straight, Salish Sea
Founded in 2002 by longtime fishermen Riley Starks and Dave Hansen
ETHICALLY SOUND METHODS AND ZERO DAMAGE TO THE ECOSYSTEM Lummi Island Wild remains one of the ten most sustainable fisheries in the world!
SOLAR POWERED In 2007 we began the process of fitting our reefnet fleet with solar power, making Lummi Island Wild the first solar powered wild salmon fishery in the world! This, combined with the fact that our gears stay in the very same spot year after year, allows reefnetting to have the lowest carbon footprint of any salmon fishery in the Salish Sea.
ULTRA LOW BYCATCH Reefnetting has almost zero bycatch mortality. No other fishery approaches such a sustainable level. We have been awarded the highest rating from Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch. After a successful catch, reefnet salmon are gently rolled into a live well, having been out of the water for only seconds. This gives us an extremely high success rate for releasing non-targeted species unharmed. The reward, in this case, is seeing them swim away and knowing that they will survive to complete their age-old cycle of returning to their spawning grounds to ensure their species’ future.
Once practiced throughout the Salish Sea by many indigenous peoples, reefnet fishing now exists only off Lummi Island, three of the other San Juan Islands, and, as of 2016, off of Cherry Point through a cooperative effort between Lummi Nation and Lummi Island Wild.
Lummi Island Wild harvests Fraser River salmon long before they enter the river, so they still have all their stored energy in the form of healthy omega 3-rich fat that results in a texture, flavor, and health benefit that few other salmon can offer.
For several years, the fishery has partnered with Lummi Nation to source halibut, spot prawns, and some salmon. In 2016, it was asked to assist in designing, building, and deploying a new reefnet gear that resulted in the launch of the first new tribal reefnet gear in 120 years. The Lummi Island Wild website states, “We appreciate the reverence and respect Lummi Nation has for their salmon, and hope to continue to expand our cooperation with them.”
The Northwest has long been a place of plenty that provides its inhabitants with a buffet of abundant foraged and farmed foods including berries, mushrooms, nuts, herbs, vegetables, and salmon. The mission statement of Lummi Island Wild reflects its intention to preserve one important element of that bountiful heritage: “To promote the respectful and responsible harvesting of wild salmon and to protect the environment for future generations of fish and people.”
By Liz Hansen
Increased technological advances in the fishing industry have made bringing fish from ocean to market easier and faster than ever. But, for many species, the quantities of fish being removed are much higher than the rates at which the oceans can replenish them.
In addition, some fishing practices can wreak havoc on marine ecosystems, and as consumers, this puts us in a difficult position, forcing us to choose between the health of the planet and our own health.
Lummi Island Wild helps eliminate this painstaking choice, and brings to market a product that is like nothing you’ve ever tasted before. And the reason is because of their special approach to harvest and processing.
Every step and process is completed with a gentle touch and strictly by hand: from pulling in the nets, to returning the unintended species back to the water alive and well, to processing and packaging. Lummi Island Wild bleeds each fish, which is one of the most humane ways of killing, and keeps the quality and taste of the end product top notch for two reasons.
First, the bitterness caused by lactic acid, which builds up in the muscle tissues when a fish struggles, dissipates, since the salmon is allowed to relax both before and after bleeding. Second, the blood is not there to cause a metallic, often slightly bitter and rancid flavor associated with the term “fishy.”
This clean flavor is noticeable immediately, but becomes even more obvious after the salmon is frozen or smoked. The careful handling after bleeding ensures that each salmon is treated with respect all along the processing chain, resulting in the best product possible. Every chef will tell you, this is the kind of seafood to eat!