FishWise is very pleased to officially announce our producer partnership with Lummi Island Wild. Lummi Island Wild, founded in 2002 by longtime fishermen Riley Starks and Dave Hansen, is a seafood cooperative based out of Bellingham, Washington. Lummi Island Wild harvests, purchases, processes, and sells sustainable seafood from the Salish Sea.
The cooperative fishes year-round, in many locations throughout the Pacific Northwest. Aside from sockeye, pink, and keta salmon, the species typically caught include Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified Pacific Albacore tuna, Salish Sea halibut, Pacific cod, spot prawns, Alaska weathervane scallops, and salmon caviar. Lummi Island Wild has two tending vessels, F/V Galactic Ice and the F/V Solar Ice, in addition to two new large refrigerated trucks.
Click here to watch a video of the reefnetting process.
A unique aspect of Lummi Island Wild’s operation is their utilization of traditional Coast Salish reefnets to selectively catch salmon. Salish tribes, most notably the Lummi Tribe, had been using the reefnet method for centuries, with established fishing grounds dispersed throughout the San Juan Islands. Although forced to abandon traditional reefnet fishing in the early 1900s when Europeans installed large fish traps that intercepted salmon, Lummi fishermen have reinstituted the method as recently as 2014. Salmon reefnetters catch sockeye and pink salmon during summer months and coho and keta salmon during the fall months in Legoe Bay on Lummi Island. All of the reefnet gears operated by Lummi Island Wild became solar powered in 2007, making them the first solar powered wild salmon fishery in the world. The exceptional reverence and care taken by fishermen during the handling process sets the quality of Lummi Island salmon apart. Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program designated Lummi Island Wild salmon a Green rated Best Choice option in 2013, the first and only Green rated wild salmon fishery outside of Alaska.
FishWise Project Manager Meg Songer traveled to Lummi Island last summer to become better acquainted the Lummi Island Wild family and with the co-op’s operations. Partners Riley Starks, Keith Carpenter, Tom Munroe and fisherman Bryan were all incredibly gracious hosts whose dedication to their craft is abundantly clear. Meg was invited to observe and assist aboard the custom-built tender F/V Galactic Ice on the tribal opening day of Dungeness crab season. The learning experiences and relationships established on this visit were invaluable for Meg and for FishWise.
Lummi Island Wild’s mission is to promote the respectful and responsible harvesting of wild salmon to protect the environment for future generations of fish and people, all the while helping to revive the cultural technique of reefnetting. Furthermore, the Lummi Island Wild story is rooted in complete traceability throughout the supply chain. Keeping this traceability story intact is of utmost importance to the crew and owners. The future is looking bright for Lummi Island Wild as their capacity to take on new business continues to grow and as they build and strengthen relationships with industry leaders in seafood sustainability.