Wild-caught and responsibly harvested with low impact fishing gear
As small family operation, we fish seasonally in Alaska for primarily wild salmon, halibut, and black cod on our 42’ wooden boat, the F/V Faithful. Alongside our fleetmates, we produce the highest quality Alaska seafood by using low impact fishing gear that minimizes wasteful bycatch and allows us to harvest one fish, one hook at a time. Immediately after landing each fish, we take the time to promptly pressure bleed, gut, and ice our catch onboard. This practice ensures a great taste and texture, and we feel good doing right by the magnificent wild salmon (or halibut, or black cod). Back at the dock the catch is promptly filleted, vacuum-packed, and flash-frozen at our 100% fishermen-owned cooperative.
While we feel fresh fish from local owner-operated vessels is always ideal, the quality of fresh fish degrades very quickly. Much of the fish that goes to fresh market reaches the consumer in less than ideal condition and sadly much of it ends up going to waste. Flash freezing means bringing the fish down to a super cold temp very quickly, essentially stopping it in time. It is important to do this at the source while the fish is still very fresh. (Much of the frozen or previously frozen seafood found on the market tastes lousy because it was not frozen promptly.) This proactive approach allows us to transport the catch slowly and in bulk to New England while maintaining our quality standards and a low carbon footprint. As fishermen we sleep better at night knowing that we are minimizing the chance that our catch will go to waste and we are doing all we can to provide the highest quality product to seafood lovers.
Fishermen as Stewards of the Marine Ecosystems
Commercial fishermen, especially those operating small boats they own themselves, spend plenty of time immersed in the wildness of the marine ecosystem. Many of us have a deep respect for the fish we harvest and feel compelled to get involved in conservation and sustainable fisheries management. Southeast Alaskan fishermen have succeeded in banning harmful trawl net fishing in our entire region, which has positively impacted the entire ecosystem and our sustainable fisheries.
Along with local tribal government and conservation groups, Southeast Alaska fishermen are currently pushing back against the U.S. Forest Service proposal to clear-cut large swaths of old growth salmon forest. The Tongass National forest, located in Southeast Alaska (the traditional lands of the Tlingit and Haida people), is the largest temperate rainforest on the planet. A mostly intact and thriving wilderness, this region is important to national food security and vital in the fight against climate change. The vast wetlands of the Tongass are not only vital habitat for countless edible species of plant, animal, and fungi; they are also one of our nation’s largest carbon sinks.
Tracy, a native Bostonian and co-founder of Wooden Island Wild holds a degree in Fisheries Biology and Management from the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont. Her love of wetlands and work to rehabilitate them led her to an internship with the U.S. Forest Service in Sitka, Alaska. The job involved blowing up old logging bridges and culverts in an effort to improve watershed integrity and salmon spawning habitat. While it was an exciting first summer in Alaska, it was the commercial fishing community she found in the small town of Sitka, AK that made a lasting impression. Coming from New England it felt like stepping back in time to see a thriving working waterfront with hundreds of beautifully preserved old wood boats in the fleet. The local fishermen were a happy, welcoming bunch and it was a wonderful suprise to find many women working in the fleet.
The following summer Tracy returned to Southeast Alaska and walked the docks for a few weeks before landing her first commercial fishing job. After graduating from UVM later that year she moved to Alaska full time and eventually met her partner Jesse, who was born and raised commercial fishing with his family on a gorgeous old double ender, the F/V Dorothy Ann. The rest is history. The pair now own their own fishing vessel, the F/V Faithful and fish with their two young children. They moved from Alaska to Massachusetts in late 2019 to start direct marketing their catch, launching Wooden Island Wild in January 2020. While this first year in business has been a wild one to say the least, fishermen are known for their resilience and ingenuity. This fishing family plans to continue splitting their time between Alaska and Boston, offering New Englanders a direct connection to their delicious wild catch for the foreseeable future.