Linda Behnken, fisherman/ALFA director                                                             Credit: Fairbanks Daily News Miner

 

Alaskans Own, the state’s first EVER Community Supported Fishery, is celebrating 11 years of its subscription service to seafood lovers.

“A Community Supported Fishery project relies on forward funding from subscribers who pay in the beginning of the season and then receive fish on a regular basis, in our case, it’s once a month of the fish coming into Sitka and processed locally.”   

Linda Behnken is director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association in Sitka. Up to 80 local boats supply a mix of salmon, halibut, rockfish and more to the program.

“And the idea behind it is that consumers they’re getting to support the small scale community based fishermen who are taking good care of the fish. They’re bringing them highest quality product, and we’re keeping more of that great Alaska seafood in Alaska.”

Just one percent of Alaska’s billions of pounds of seafood remains in state, and while many of their nearly 300 subscribers are from the Lower 48, Behnken says Alaska residents make up a good chunk of   supporters. Subscribers also get seafood cooking lessons via Zoom.

“Most people in this country eat seafood more at restaurants than anywhere else. And a lot of people  still are daunted by cooking seafood at home. So one of the benefits we want to offer to our   customers is that throughout the summer, after they get their fish, we’ll have a chef who will through Zoom, make dinner with them.”

All CSF proceeds fund ALFA’s Fisheries Conservation Network in which fishermen and scientists partner on projects like mapping bycatch hotspots, testing electronic monitoring, fuel efficiency projects and strategies to avoid longline predation by sperm whales.

Shortly after the coronavirus hit, Alaskans Own also started working with the Seafood Producers Cooperative and Sitka Sound Seafoods to donate fish weekly to needy families.

“And we’ve set up a system where people can contribute to support the cost of processing, the cost of delivery – the fish is donated and we’ve been supported by the Sitka Legacy Fund,  Silver Bay Seafoods, Slow Fish, along with 25 individual donors.”   

Over 800 pounds have been delivered to local families so far and Behnken says the donations will continue into the fall. Learn more at https://alaskansown.com/

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