Responsible Salmon Buying

Feb 18, 2009

Let seafood buyers know you want healthy, fresh-caught salmon from sustainable fishing communities in rural Alaska!

By being good to yourself you can help us help ourselves. When was the last time you had a deal like that??

In all areas of Western Alaska our main income is from the salmon we harvest. Here are some suggestions to remember when purchasing fish for your family that will help our families too.

1 – Eat wild Alaskan salmon, often and in any form! Despite the issues some of us are having right now, our salmon runs are strong and managed for sustainability. It is in our state constitution and has been since statehood in 1959. We are the best in the world at doing this. Don’t believe me?? Look it up!

2 – There are five kinds of  Pacific wild salmon. all are good!  Chinook/King, Sockeye/Red, Coho/Silver, Chum/Keta or Dog, and Humpy/Pink.  Keta (pronounced with a long e) is the new name for dog salmon (Chum).

A few things to remember when buying:

•  If it is Atlantic salmon, it is farmed and most likely imported.
•  If it is organic salmon, it is farmed and imported.   The USDA does not allowed for the domestic labeling of organic salmon in the US.

3 – If you want to help Western Alaska villages and fishermen, buy fish in any of the following:

On a budget – Purchase canned salmon, especially Sockeye. Bristol Bay is the world’s capital for Sockeye salmon and a vast majority of our Western Alaskan harvest goes into cans.  Skinless, boneless salmon of any type is a likely to be processed in Western Alaska.  Pink salmon in the can is common, which is still good.  Pink salmon is a Southeast Alaska fishery.

Still looking for a good deal – Ask for fresh Chum (Keta/Dog)  and specifically from the Yukon. They produce a great Omega 3 rich fish that is slowly gaining a foot hold in markets. Ask your grocery store fish counters for it early and often — they become available in July/August. By educating your friends and neighbors about these varieties and creating a vocal demand, you let seafood buyers know they need to meet demand for Chum and Keta when the season begins. Then buy it when it comes into season. It is reasonable in cost and has a rich nutty flavor.

The YK Delta (Yukon area) has a strong Chinook/King market.  Fishermen are not offered as much money for the more plentiful Chums, due to low demand.  If seafood buyers see an increased demand for Chums and purchase more, Western Alaskan fisherman will reap the benefits. The runs of these fish are strong and can open a second market, in addition to the Chinook/Kings, and will lead to more profitability.

Also look for Sockeye salmon – Demand for Sockeye benefits the rural fishermen in the Bristol Bay region. You can tell Sockeyes by their bright red color, the darkest for salmon.  Their season is end of June through July. Again, ask early and often!

Co-op shoppers – If you shop at a co-op, ask your buyer to please carry seafood products purchased from Alaskan fisherman and co-ops.  We have only a few co-ops (fishermen owned) but more are starting up and they need all the support we can offer!

Lastly – Support Alaskan owned fish companies. Most are small; many are fishermen owned and return more to fishermen. Look for Alaska salmon gifts on websites and in stores. Read labels carefully. Many commercially owned companies are based out of state.

Your positive Wild Alaskan Salmon purchases help us help ourselves.

Not sure how to cook it?  Visit the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute site at and learn more!!


Ugashik, Alaska

9 Responses to “Responsible Salmon Buying”

  1. Alaska Pi ∆ Says:

    Another BTW from a granma-
    Gifts of Wild Alaskan Salmon for daughters or (wonderful) DILs or friends who are expecting is a wonderful way to support the arrival of a healthy new generation in your own neighborhood.

    Diet guidelines for expectant mothers limit certain fish intake due to concerns about mercury but not Wild Alaskan Salmon according to various sources.

    Click to access b2007_29.pdf

  2. Greytdog Δ Says:

    My dogs and I take one capsule daily of Natural Factors Wild Alaskan Salmon oil. But can’t seem to find info as to where NF gets their “Wild Alaskan Salmon. . .anyone know?

  3. Secret TalkerΔ Says:

    Hey- I went out to eat and they had salmon on the menu, thinking about Ak and my personal beautiful skin I asked what type and where is it from. It was not Wild Alaska Salmon and I was so disappointed ; but I am more knowledgeable, now.I know to eat only and ask for Wild Alaska Salmon.

  4. Jim Says:

    I just spent 16.95 on 180 1000mg Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil softgels at Costco. They are produced by a company called Alaska Protein Recovery in Juneau. The first thing I noticed is the capsules are much prettier than standard fish oil– a nice amber. Reminds me a bit of salmon eggs.

    I hadn’t seen salmon oil capsules at Costco before. But I’d want to be sure I was eating WILD salmon oil, and not farmed– oops, don’t get me going . . .

  5. Jeff Frontz Says:

    Any idea if the cans used for the Sockeye are BPA-free?

  6. alaskapi Says:

    Depends on who you buy from
    One uses glass jars…

  7. jim Says:

    I couldn’t determine if Costco’s Kirkland brand canned sockeye salmon is BPA free. I occasionally use one of these for a quick salmon salad sandwich.

    I use jars for canning my own salmon. I freeze the filets, freeze and save the heads for stock, and, for canning, I smoke the remaining backbone and the bony part of the carcass without too much salt and a generous amount of meat sticking to the bones– I love eating the bones and it is good for me too. The canning tenderizes them.

    An old friend who started canning his Copper River salmon in the 1930s introduced me (in the 1980s) to canned salmon bones. There had been a dock strike in Seattle in the 30s and he nearly starved because Alaska grocers could only sell food to their preferred customers, and he wasn’t one. So he learned to eat as much of his salmon as he could.

    My canned salmon bones have never been as good as his but they’re pretty good. This former B-17 ball turret gunner and Copper River and Northwestern Railroad builder is no longer with us so I’ll have to rely on my own canned sockeye bones from now on.

    Anyway, don’t throw away the bones– smoke them, can them in jars so they’re BPA free, and enjoy. They’re different from the filets but they’re really good and you can’t ask for healthier or more nutritious food than home canned, BPA free high calcium wild salmon.

  8. alaskapi Says:

    At this point in time , we have to assume all cans have BPA in the lining unless specified otherwise.
    And there really IS no substitute for glass jars and the care and concern we put in with our fish, is there? :-)

  9. ugavic Says:

    Jeff and others on BPA-

    The more I look and try to get an answer the more I see that getting BPA free cans is a hard thing to do. I did ask an industry connection we have if she could find out. Will let you know what I hear.

    Our small company has always used glass, since the early 1960’s, due to our catering to chemically sensitive customers.

    Given all that we have learned since then I know we will always have at least one line of products in glass. Given how many older and very young customers we have it seems the only truly safe route.

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