Reefnetters at work off Lummi Island
• Sustainably hand-harvested
• Next harvest is 2013 ... act fast!
Reefnetting is an ancient, environmentally superior fishing method that produces the highest quality fish possible.
It was developed by Northwest natives, and less than a dozen reefnet rigs are still in operation. Some are shown above anchored off Lummi Island, just a 10-minute ferry journey from our home base in Bellingham, Washington.
The “Cinderella” of salmon
As the most perishable of all Pacific species, the vast majority ends up in cans. But, like Cinderella, pink salmon shines when treated with respect.
Pink salmon needs to be handled gently, iced immediately, and frozen with hours ... just as Lummi Island's reefnetters do!
The rare and careful reefnetting method protects and preserves the fragile quality of ocean-fresh Pink Salmon, perfectly.
They catch only a few salmon at a time, bleeding and icing the fish immediately upon harvest: a practice very rare in commercial fisheries.
At the end of the day, they're ferried just five minutes to shore and take a quick trip to the plant, where they're cleaned, processed, and flash-frozen to preserve their fresh flavor and delicate texture.
The supply is very limited and there'll be no more until 2013, because wild pink salmon only return every two years. Don't wait to snare your share of this rare, savory treat!
Rare fishery nets premium quality pink salmon
The fresh-caught quality of pink salmon from the Lummi Island reefnet co-op is the result of a unique fishing method and careful post-harvest handling.
Reefnetters take advantage of flood-tide currents that lead migrating salmon over underwater reefs and into shallow waters.
The gear consists of two small, narrow, stationary rafts with a net suspended underwater between them. The crews wait for the flood tide to bring the harvest, and as salmon rise up to clear the reef, spotters in the rigs' trademark towers call out for the net to be raised.
They catch only a few salmon at a time, and are immediately bled and placed into a small net cage suspended in the sea. This interlude relaxes the fish and allows time for the lactic acid in their muscles to dissipate, ensuring optimal flavor.
As soon as they're ready, the salmon are plucked from the sea and placed in insulated totes full of slush ice. At the end of the day, they're ferried just five minutes to shore, where they're cleaned, processed, and flash-frozen to preserve their fresh flavor and delicate texture.
The Lummi Island Wild reefnet co-op richly deserves its reputation as one of the “greenest” fisheries on the planet.
Reefnetting is eco-friendly in several ways:
Lummi's reefnetters are partly solar-powered.
Fuel use is minimal because the fish come to the catchers. The operation uses just enough fossil fuel to charge the electric winches and power the small tenders that ferry men and fish to and from the barges.
There's no “by-catch”, because other species are tossed back, unharmed.