Fishermen's News - The Advocate for the Commercial Fisherman

AMCC Connects Seafood Aficionados With Harvesters

 

July 1, 2018

Publicist Cassandra Squibb, left, with Jason Dineen, executive director of the Alaska Marine Conservation Council, with packets of spring offerings of halibut, rockfish and spot shrimp sold as part of AMCC's "boat to plate" program. Photo by Margaret Bauman.

Seafood aficionado Sue Ives held up packets of fresh frozen Prince William Sound spot prawns, admiring her latest purchase from Catch 49 (Catch49.org), a program that connects consumers with harvesters.

A long-time customer of the program established by the nonprofit Alaska Marine Conservation Council, Ives said the attraction is that AMCC buys directly from local fishermen, in this case a collective of five Alaskan fishermen who contracted with AMCC for the short season. "They support local fishermen and they support younger fishermen," she said.

At AMCC's seafood pop-up in Anchorage on May 11, those spot prawns were going for $28 a pound, a price that benefits harvesters and AMCC.

AMCC pays the harvesters more than other processers, then adds an amount to benefit AMCC's efforts to promote sustainable marine ecosystems, fisheries, and coastal communities. "The fishermen get market costs plus a premium, said Noah Sunflower, fishing community organizer for AMCC. "And they get to tell their story."

Several dozen other customers showed up to pick pre-ordered Kodiak rockfish, Salmon Sister's sablefish (black cod), and halibut. Along with its loyal base of individual customers, Catch 49 sells to the upscale Anchorage restaurant The Bridge on a regular basis, and other restaurants on an intermittent basis. "Our vision is eventually we'll have a retail shop right here," Sunflower said.

The rockfish, at $65 for five pounds, was harvested by Kodiak's Darius Kasprzak, president of the Alaska Jig Association, who jigs year-round throughout the Central and Western Gulf of Alaska for cod and rockfish.

Salmon Sister's sablefish, at $28 a pound, was harvested by the F/V Dangerous Cape, owned and captained by husband and wife Erick and Lacey Velsko. The couple longline for sablefish and halibut, pot fish for Pacific cod, and tender for the Prince William Sound salmon purse seine fleet.

The halibut, at $100 for five pounds, was harvested by Homer residents Malcolm Milne, of the F/V Captain Cook, and Matt Alward, of the F/V Challenger, and president of United Fishermen of Alaska, in the Gulf of Alaska.

Sue Ives, of Anchorage, an enthused customer of the Alaska Marine Conservation Council's Catch 49 program, purchased several pounds of spot shrimp caught in Prince William Sound. Photo by Margaret Bauman.

In the past the Catch 49 program, formerly known as "Catch of the Season" has also purchased Norton Sound king crab harvested by Nome residents Don Stiles, George Lewis and other small boat fishermen, and Kodiak tanner crab harvested by Kodiak's Charlie Peterson, of the F/V Patricia Sue.

AMCC's overall goal with Catch 49 is to have more demand than product, and to help more young harvesters get into the fisheries, said Jason Dinneen, executive director of the nonprofit organization.

Catch 49 is promoted by AMCC as a "boat to plate" program that offers high quality, responsibly-harvested Alaskan seafood frozen in vacuum-sealed packages ready for the freezer. While the prices per pound may exceed those offered by other retailers, customers feel that their purchases directly support the harvesters who caught their fish, as well as healthy fish habitat.

Customers order and pay in advance, then pick up their order in the hub communities of Anchorage, Fairbanks and Homer. Additional seasonal pickups are available in the Matanuska Susitna Valley and Seward.

 
 

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