The Sitka Premium Seafood Share is a great option for people who want to eat seafood but also want to be conscious about their carbon footprint. Seafood in landlocked states can very often come with a very large carbon footprint but Sitka Salmon Shares it taking every step to make their company the most sustainable. Full transparency throughout the supply chain along with numerous partnerships with sustainable and community organizations prove that this company really does care about sustainability. In addition to plans to be fully carbon neutral by 2023, 1% of all profit goes to Alaskan conservation organizations. It is easy to tell when a company is genuine and Sitka Salmon continues to prove time and time again that their priorities lie with the Earth and people instead of profit.
The Premium Sitka Seafood Share consists of one delivery a month between the months of May and December for a total of 8 deliveries annually. Each delivery includes 4.5 to 5 pounds of seafood (depending on fishing conditions) caught in Alaska and the North Pacific. The seafood possibilities in each months box are: Albacore Tuna, Bairdi Crab, Coho Salmon, Dungeness Crab, Halibut, King Salmon, Pacific Cod, Sablefish (Black Cod), and Sockeye Salmon. The seafood is then blast frozen in Alaska and shipped to a processing facility in the midwest where it is boxed and passed on for delivery. I was very impressed with the transparency that was provided about the packaging as well as the sustainability. On the website there is a whole section devoted to the responsible disposal of the packaging and many other areas of the site direct you to this page. The cardboard box that it is shipped in is made from the highest post-consumer recycled content available and any virgin fibers added are 100% Sustainable Forestry Initiative Certified. The website stresses that these boxes should be recycled or composted and even provides ideas on how to upcycle them. Additionally, for customers in the Chicago area, they provide an 100% off discount code to a service that picks up compost from your apartment once a week! For insulation and padding, the boxes are filled with a plant-based alternative to styrofoam called GreenCellFoamTM. This material is sourced from U.S. grown corn and is compostable and safe to dissolve in your sink! This information is backed by independent laboratory tests. The only unsustainable part of their packaging is the plastic vacuum seal that surrounds the actual seafood. It is refreshing to see the company admit the un-sustainability of this material and explain that regulations and quality standards require this type of packaging. In my experience, most companies would try and brush over that part of their product instead of admitting guilt and actively attempting to find a solution.
Alaska is the most important state in terms of fishing in the U.S., producing more catch by volume than all of the other states combined. This being said, alaskan fisheries had been stretched thin by commercial trawling and large factory boats until a trawling ban in 1998. This ban has allowed Alaska to be home to many of the worlds most productive and sustainable small-scale fisheries. Sitka Salmon is classified as a Community Supported Fishery (CSF) meaning the fishermen sell their fish directly to the customers with Sitka acting as an intermediary to connect demander and supplier. This system is extremely sustainable and efficient as the fisherman harvest the seafood in season and have guaranteed customers for 100% of their catch. This eliminates any waste that could result from failure to sell to a supplier and unbought seafood in a market/grocery store. It also makes the fisherman significantly more money as they avoid the industrial supply chain that is diluted with a series of profit-skimming middlemen. After the fish is caught it is transported directly from Alaska to a packing facility in Madison, Wisconsin by truck. The land shipping of this seafood produces 60 times less carbon and 8 times less waste than if this seafood was to be shipped by air. From Madison the packages are distributed throughout the midwest where most of the customer base is. All of the carbon produced from the transportation of the seafood is offset through payments to the Juneau Carbon Offset Fund. This is an organization that replaces oil burning heating system with emission free air source heating in low income homes in Juneau. This both greatly reduces household emissions and slashes electrical bills. This carbon offset is around 5 times more expensive than carbon offsets in the lower 48. Just another example of how this company refuses to take shortcuts and is committed to both the community and the environment.
Another highlight of this company is the transparency into how the fish is caught and even who catches it. The website highlights 20 boats and their crew that are members of the CSF. These profiles are extensive and provide a look inside the lives of the people that catch the fish you are eating. I have seen other companies include profiles for workers but the bios of these fisherman are much more genuine and personal than anything I have ever seen. The majority of the fishermen are from Sitka Alaska and many of them are part of a long history of fishing families. These fisherman also make on average 16-20% more than dock price and even up to double for undervalued species. Additionally all members receive newsletters to help “get to know” their fishermen. Sitka is also a member of the Local Catch Network (LCN). The LCN is a group of community based fishing organizations committed to strengthening local and regional seafood systems. As for the distributors in Madison, they work in a facility inside of a repurposed feed mill. It is super cool (I have been there myself).