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"From Fishing to Farmers Markets" & events, issues & ideas

Friday, April 30, 2004
Metropolitam Market and Squid Fishing
At the Wild Seafood Exchange, chefs, retail merchants, and fishermen put their heads together and discussed how to get the freshest seafood to the consumer. This forum discussed the role of distributors (they are necessary in Seattle) and how fishermen should try to pre-qualify for sustainability and quality assurance such as with HACCP or the Cold Trak Program for quality and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Lists for sustainability. John Foss introduced a fabulous idea to develop a Fair Trade Seafood Label which would include criteria similar to the fair trade coffees except in the context of seafood and the Pacific Northwest.

At this Exchange I met Jaques Boiroux and Rick Cavanaugh of Metropolitan Market who along with John Rowley, masterminded the advent of Copper River King Salmon into the Seattle area. Helicopters were used to airlift the first salmon caught, out of the boat to a waiting plane to airfreight them to Seattle. It was a wonderful marketing ploy and a lot of fun. Yesterday I visited the Metropolitan Market in the Admiral District of West Seattle to investigate. I found a multilevel airy market with artfully displayed bakery items inviting temptation. The deli section is extensive and offers a filet of poached salmon with slices to go. There are sumptuous ready made fresh looking salads to add and voila, you have lunch or dinner already made. I visited with Rick Cavanaugh who is their Senior Seafood Manager. His display of whole salmon, dungies, and shellfish was perfect. The Ikashibi caught Hawaiian albacore steaks looked very fresh. He explained to me that he likes to display a fresh fish with a picture of it being caught by the fisherman with an airbill attatched to confirm its next-day delivery. Now that is FRESH!
This attention to detail comes from thirty years in the seafood business. There are four Metropolitan Markets: Admiral:West Seattle, Queen Anne, Sand Point, and the Prior District:Tacoma. They will e-mail customers a sale sheet every week if you sign up.

Steve and crew are seining for squid this week in the Channel Islands, CA. The weather has been awful, however. Wednesday night it blew at least 50 knots and the Papa George anchored up in Beechers Bay to ride it out. It was soon after anchoring that Steve got a call from a lightboat nearby who lost his anchor. "Can I tie off astern" he asks. Steve will always help out another boat in trouble ( just ask his old Alaska salmon crew and they will groan). In return the lightboat agreed to set him last night.

An old story comes to mind speaking of salmon fishing in Alaska. On our way from Sand Point, AK to Seattle one August in the 80's (a 1250 mile journey) we began crossing Queen Charlotte Sound in Canada early one foggy morning. Soon after entering the Sound running South at 8 knots, we came upon a gillnetter dead in the water. We circled it once to see if anyone was aboard. Soon a man popped his head out of the cabin door and waved. H e then called on the radio and said his engine quit and could he have a tow to Scarlet Point....clear across the Sound towards the entrance to Johnstone
Straits. I tied the bowline to the winch and off we went. The gillnetter told Steve he was going to work on his engine on the way across, but he actually laid down and went to sleep. When we arrived off Scarlet Point in thick fog we let him go and waved goodbye. He started up his engine and sped away. We realized we'd been had by one of the oldest tricks in the book.....he wanted to save fuel and get a nap, so he pled engine failure and got a tow to where he wanted to start fishing in the morning.

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