How is the fish caught and what happens before you purchase it?
Bob lays out the gillnet and monitors it closely. He must keep the net straight and tow out logs or icebergs while avoiding rafts of pop weed and bull kelp. Using the tides, natural land formations, winds and currents to enhance his fishing, Bob stays constantly aware of tidal rips that might collapse or swing the net. Sometimes he motors along the net and watches salmon who are swimming along the net dive into the mesh.
When a fish is caught it is held by the mesh behind its gills. To bring the fish aboard the net is hydraulically wound onto a drum which looks like a giant spool of thread. Each fish is extracted from the net by hand and its gill rakers cut to allow the fish to bleed, exhausting the blood from the tiny capillaries. The fish are bled in sea water, cleaned and iced by son and crew member, Thor. Thor has fished all his life making his first voyage in utero during the summer of 1986 and his second at nine months. He may be the only fisherman out there who has fished 2 seasons more than his age. He began working the deck when he was 10 and loves the life of the fisherman.
The fish are held in an ice soup called a slush which combines sea water and ice bringing the temperature down to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Brother Traesti runs the galley providing hot food and a tidy environment for Bob and Thor in-between sets. Traesti assists on deck as well with the cleaning and bringing in of the net. Traesti loves the fishing life partially because he can spend part of his galley hours reading and playing guitar. Life led on a small floating oasis has taught each family member how to be content in a small space.
Desire Fish Plant is a small seafood processor located in Petersburg, Alaska roughly 40 miles from the gillnet area of Sumner Straight. It was built in a stainless steel-lined 40 foot container. It contains a blast freezer in one end and processing area in the other. It can process up to 2000 lbs. of product per day. Beside it sits a 20 foot holding freezer where the boxed product awaits shipping. On its other side sits a 20 foot storage container which holds its boxing and processing materials. Desire Fish Company is a fully licensed facility.
When the Desire returns from fishing the fish are off-loaded by hand into insulated totes. The fish is trucked 2 miles to the Desire Fish Plant. The fish are either filleted and vacuum packed in sides and portions or frozen on trays to be glazed and boxed H&G (headed and gutted). We process each and every fish we catch and only market our own fish. Our intention is to be a reliable source for premium quality Wild Alaskan Salmon with 100% customer satisfaction and company accountability. Our inventory is limited but we have come to believe that due to the delicate and perishable nature of wild Salmon, it is best if every phase of processing is overseen by traceably accountable workers who keep in mind that real people will eat this. It is up to us to hold the integrity of this creature and to that end we do our best. Read more about Blastfreezing here.
When the holding freezer is full the product is off loaded into an Alaska Marine Lines Freezer van, shipped to Seattle and trucked to Bellingham Cold Storage where it is held until sold.