Frequently Asked Questions
Do you catch the fish yourself?: When Nathanael was growing up, his parents operated an independent, family-owned fishing business out of the tiny fishing village of Pelican, Alaska which is accessible only by boat or seaplane. While we are no longer fishing, many of the people we fished around are still in the business. Most of the fish we buy are harvested by fishermen we know in Pelican, many of whom are lifelong friends. We also source fish from a small, independent processor in Ketchikan, Alaska. Our Ketchikan processor meticulously debones the salmon by hand!
How are your fish caught and processed? Our fish are all hand processed and given white glove treatment from the time they leave the water to the time they are delivered to the customer. All of our fish are hook-and-line harvested. That means each fish comes over the side of the boat one at a time. They are immediately pressure bled and gutted by the fishermen, then rinsed and put on ice before being brought to the processor for finishing.
Our primary processor is a boutique operation owned by one of Nathanael's lifelong friends, Seth Stewart, and his wife Anna. In the processing plant the fish are inspected and individually selected. Only the highest quality fish are accepted, the others are sent to other processors with less discriminating standards. The fish that are selected are then filleted and portioned by expert fish cutters, then vacuum sealed and flash frozen to lock in freshness.
How do you get the fish to your buyers clubs? Once the fish are processed in Pelican, they are shipped to Juneau either by ferry or by float plane and then shipped to their final destination on Alaska Airlines air cargo service. The buyers club organizer will pick up the fish from the Alaska Airlines cargo desk and take the fish to a predetermined location for club members to pick up their shares. We can arrange buyers club shipments to any city with Alaska Airlines service.
Why is there a minimum order? The minimum order serves two purposes; it bundles orders into high enough volume to get discounted rates from the processor and it meets the airline's cargo shipping price break. As it turns out, the cost to ship cargo on Alaska Airlines is the same for one pound as it is for a hundred. Ordering in smaller quantities would only drive costs up from both the processor and airline.
Why do buyers club orders have to be in 50 pound increments? Our fish are shipped in special insulated cases designed to keep 50 pounds of fish dry and frozen. Our order increments are based on this casing.
Why are most of your salmon bone-in? There is no doubt that bone-out salmon is more convenient. The problem is, in order to get the convenience of bone-out you have to make a big sacrifice in quality. In order to debone large quantities of salmon, the fillets must be run through a pinbone machine. If the fish are run through the machine while they are fresh, the deboning process will rip apart the flesh ruining the presentation of the fillet. Consequently, the fish are left in the cooler for several days to soften (decompose) before being pinboned. This accounts for a good deal of the "fishy" taste that turns people off of salmon. We prioritize quality and freshness over convenience and therefore leave the bones in.
We do have limited quantities of King and Coho Salmon that are deboned by hand. Our Ketchikan processor fillets the fish and then meticulously pulls the bones out by hand. This creates the convenience of a bone-out salmon without sacrificing quality. It is very labor intensive and therefore the bone-out fish are more expensive.
Are your fish sustainably harvested? Yes! Our fish are caught in fisheries that are limited-entry and closely managed to ensure that overfishing does not occur. The fixed number of permits prevents the fishing fleet from growing too large and the management of the fishery ensures that enough fish are left in the ocean to maintain a healthy, self-sustaining renewable resource. Furthermore, hook-and-line fisheries are highly selective in their species targeting. There is very little wasteful bye-catch in the hook-and-line fisheries. Some of the net fisheries have significant wasteful bye-catch in which non-targeted species are caught incidentally and tossed back in the ocean after the fish are sorted but already dead. This is a major reason why we only source our fish from hook-and-line fisheries.