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Category: Fish to Fork
Written by Claire Cummings on August 26, 2013in Farm to Fork, Featured, Fish to Fork, Local food, seafood - 0 Comments
The Pacific Northwest is a region steeped in tradition, and none so important to the local economy than fishing. Fishermen of the Quinault and Nisqually tribes of Washington have been fishing on the Humtulip and Quinault Rivers for hundreds of years. Generations of fishermen have come and gone, during which grandparents have passed on coveted family fishing spots to their grandsons and daughters in hopes that the practice will live on. It is an important part of the local economy and a way of life for many who enjoy the solitude of the river and the deep connection to the land.
For many years tribal fishermen have sold their fish to larger processors in an anonymous system that collected fish from many different sources. The tribal-caught fish sold under this system lost the identity and rich story behind the food, increasing the disconnect between growers and eaters. Fishermen were paid unreliable prices for their fish (often below a living wage) and the high-quality product did not get the recognition it deserved. So in 2010 the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians came together to set up the Salmon Marketing Program.
The program buys fish caught by tribal members on tribal land, pays the fishermen a sustainable living wage, processes the fish at a facility owned and operated by the community, and then distributes the products itself to ensure the integrity of the process. It brings together fish caught by numerous small fishermen who are part of at least 17 different Washington Tribes. It adds value to tribal fishers’ and harvesters’ catches and keeps more of the value-added chain in Indian Country. Since its inception in 2010, the program staff and stakeholders have assisted more than 125 tribal fishers, harvesters, individuals, and businesses, generating an economic impact of over $1 million through new sales, increased revenues, and higher premiums. The program has expanded to new markets — and Bon Appétit is proud to be a customer. Continue…
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