Safe, Sustainable Seafood

Financial Planning and Marketing for Fishermen

Sarah Fisken, Marine Operations Specialist

With declining catches, fewer fish buyers, lower prices paid at landing and shrinking profit margins, commercial fishermen seek ways to increase the value of their catches through better handling, processing, storing, quality control and marketing. Since 2006, WSG and Philips Publishing Group have presented the Wild Seafood Exchange, an annual forum for Northwest and Alaska fishermen to discuss ways to start or improve direct marketing operations. The Exchange brings together fishermen, seafood buyers, restaurant operators, retail food dealers, and financial, business and marketing experts.

Participation in Seattle’s annual Pacific Marine Expo also offers opportunities to share information and discuss industry needs. In addition, WSG is helping create a financial- and business-planning toolkit to help fishermen boost their profitability to be delivered through the national Sea Grant network.

Learn more about the practical skills needed to maintain sustainable fisheries.


Recreational Harvest Program

Jeff Adams, Marine Ecologist and Teri King, Marine Water Quality Specialist

WSG offers opportunities for citizens of all ages to learn how to recreationally harvest marine and shoreline species and how to do so safely, legally and sustainably. Join local experts, experienced harvesters and Sea Grant staff in the classroom and in the field.

Best of all, WSG can help you to enjoy the healthy, nutritious fruits of your labors.

To learn more, read Gathering Safe Shellfish and The Nutritional Value of Shellfish.


Seafood Quality and Handling Training for Tribal Fishermen

Sarah Fisken, Marine Operations Specialist

Fish and shellfish have traditionally been central to the economies and cultures of Western Washington’s tribal communities. But today’s tribal harvesters face limited markets and stiff competition. They can overcome these obstacles with improved catch handling and storage techniques, and by marketing unique local products such as the Olympic coast’s marbled king salmon. Working with the Nisqually, Quinault, Lummi and other tribes, WSG provides training in seafood quality improvement and marketing, increasing the profitability of their fisheries.

WSG also collaborates with the Lummi Nation to expand its retail seafood market, which serves Bellingham and Whatcom County and provides an outlet for both fresh catches and more profitable value-added products. WSG also works with the Washington Troller’s Association and Makah Tribe to introduce chefs, food writers and restaurateurs to the distinctive marbled salmon through its annual lunch event at a premier Seattle restaurant.


Seafood Training for Meatcutters

Sarah Fisken, Marine Operations Specialist and Teri King, Marine Water Quality Specialist

Many customers wonder whether the fish they eat are clean, healthy, high-quality, and sustainably caught. Often they direct these questions to workers behind supermarket seafood counters who wish they could help customers find the answers. Based on a survey of meatcutters and seafood department managers in several local grocery chains, WSG designed a 12-hour seafood retail training program for apprentice meatcutters.

This program is offered in conjunction with the meatcutter apprenticeship programs of South Seattle Community College and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. After the trainings, apprentices are evaluated on their retention of seafood information and surveyed about customer knowledge and training impacts.


State of the Oyster Study: Testing Shellfish for Health and Safety

Teri King, Marine Water Quality Specialist

Shellfish need clean water to thrive. Pollutants can destroy their beds, and bacteria taken up by shellfish can sicken people who eat them. WSG’s State of the Oyster Study is a citizen science monitoring program that trains waterfront property owners to test the safety of their shellfish before consumption. Four times a year, residents gather clams and oysters at low tide and bring them to WSG to be tested for Vibrio parahaemolyticus and bacterial indicators of fecal contamination.

WSG then helps participants interpret the test results and, if necessary, works closely with them to identify and remedy sources of contamination. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer monitor or receiving additional information, please contact Teri King at guatemal@uw.edu.

The 2016 sampling season has been completed. Please check back in spring 2017 for the next season’s schedule and a downloadable flyer with dropoff locations, submittal form and instructions. 


Wild Seafood Exchange

Paul Dye, Assistant Director for Outreach and Sarah Fisken, Marine Operations Specialist 

WSG is a sponsor of the annual Wild Seafood Exchange, serving independent commercial fishermen who want to learn about marketing, especially direct marketing to restaurants, retailers, brokers and seafood buyers. Wild Seafood Exchange is an nine-year partnership between WSG and Philips Publishing (Fishermen’s News), designed to help commercial fishermen who want to sell directly or are currently selling directly to the public, restaurants and retail grocers.

The annual exchange provides the information and experience fishermen need to enhance their businesses. Attendees gather to hear panel discussions on processing and cold storage, what restaurants and retailers want, experiences from other direct marketers, new websites to help their business, and policy and regulatory issues.