Happy spring local seafood lovers! We are excited to announce that a tasty and fresh spring lineup is ready for you to place your order, fill your freezer, and liven up your dinner parties as the Alaskan days get longer.
Delectable halibut from Homer that is making its first appearance as part of our community supported fishery. A limited supply of mouth-watering, pot-caught Prince William Sound spot prawns are also back on the menu. New to the mix is a fabulous new product sure to be a favorite at lunchtime or for camping trips: Dear North,™ Salmon Bites, created by new Alaskan native-owned company based in Juneau and most recently a winner of the 2017 Alaska Symphony of Seafood!
The Fish 2.0 2017 Competition has launched! This is a unique opportunity for businesses and investors to come together and continue building partnerships and momentum in the sustainable seafood sector.
AMCC was a winner in the 2015 Fish 2.0 international business plan competition for our vision for the Alaska Community Seafood Hub. The competition had an array of positive impacts on our organization and seafood sales program that we are continuing to grow and working to rebrand. Seafood entrepreneurs who are seeking to improve their business model, gain financial support and develop industry connections are encouraged to participate in this year’s competition!
This recent “Story of Impact” reveals how AMCC inspired the Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust to investigate opportunities for a seafood hub through Fish 2.0 in 2015.
The online entry deadline for the 2017 competition is quickly approaching on April 29th. There are six regional tracks in this year’s competition. Alaskan businesses can compete in the West Coast regional track thanks to support from the Rasmuson Foundation. This year’s competition also features a ‘Supply Chain Innovation’ thematic track that community supported fisheries and other values-based seafood businesses should consider.
Are you an Alaska-based company interested in competing in Fish 2.0? You’re invited to contact AMCC’s Executive Director, Kelly Harrell at firstname.lastname@example.org about her experience. Full details about the competition can be found here.
Our team has been living the salmon life and feeling the salmon love this big time summer! Our Bristol Bay sockeye salmon shares offered through our community supported fishery were once again a huge hit. We have been sorting fish and weighing shares and are excited to deliver beautiful fillets from Naknek Family Fisheries to customers next week! Stay tuned for September’s seafood lineup which will include the cadillac of coho salmon from our friends at Taku River Reds along with Kodiak jig-caught rockfish and Norton Sound King Crab.
The AMCC team also traveled to Bristol Bay at the end of July for the community celebration known as Fishitval where we had a table at the bazaar and hosted a fish-themed pub quiz. Thanks to all who came out and supported our work!
Two of our resident staff fishermen recently finished up salmon fishing seasons in Cook Inlet and Prince William Sound. We are so glad to have them back!
In other news, AMCC staff are just wringing out from a rainy but fun Salmonfest 2016 with fish and music lovers in Ninilchik this past weekend. Check out our Facebook photo album and tag yourself if you took a picture in our photo booth. Thank you to everyone who stopped by to chat, take our healthy fisheries pledge, or sign our community buoy!
There’s still more salmon love to be squeezed out of summer! Just earlier this year Governor Bill Walker made it official: Every August 10th will officially be known as Alaska Wild Salmon Day. Events will be held all around the state for the inaugural celebration and the special connection that Alaskans have with our beloved silvery sirens of the sea.
Ways to Celebrate Wild Salmon Day – Wednesday, August 10th!
The AMCC team is joining forces with The Alaska Center and partners for the AK Wild Salmon Day Celebration at Cuddy Park in Anchorage from 5:30-8:00pm. There will be a free salmon barbecue, rides on the bucking salmon, music, fly-tying and more! Check out the details and RSVP here.
#2 Purchase Alaska Seafood, Salmon Chowder and Salmon Grilling Spices from our Partners!
We’re proud to partner with great local businesses who support AMCC’s work in honor of the inaugural Wild Salmon Day. Check out their special promotions to eat well and contribute to healthy fisheries at the same time!
- Copper River Seafoods: Starting at midnight tonight through 11:59 pm on August 10th, Copper River Seafoods is offering a 15% discount to customers on Wild Salmon Day, 5% which will go to AMCC in support of our programs. Customers should use promo code WildSalmonDay2016 to receive the 15% off at checkout. Order at www.copperriverseafoods.com
- Heather’s Choice:Stock up on Heather’s Choice’s Smoked Sockeye Salmon Chowder. Heather’s Choice will be donating all proceeds from their Salmon Chowder sales to Alaska Marine Conservation Council on August 10th in recognition of Wild Salmon Day ~ a day to honor Alaska salmon as the gold standard for seafood. Support AMCC and the conservation of wild fish by making sure you have a few bags of Smoked Sockeye Salmon Chowder tucked away in your backpack for your next adventure! Order at http://www.heatherschoice.com/
- Summit Spice & Tea: Visit Summit Spice & Tea at 3030 Denali Street in Anchorage between 10:00 am and 7:00 pm and buy some of their new Lemon Herb and Spicy Cajun Salmon Dip Mixes, or pick up some Slamm’ Salmon Rub for your next BBQ today! Summit Tea & Spice will donate a portion of their sales to AMCC in support of our programs. You can also place your order online at http://www.summitspiceandtea.com/index.html
#3 Other Wild Salmon Day Events Across the State
Wild Salmon Day events are also being held by Bristol Bay Native Corporation in Anchorage, the Northern Center in Fairbanks, Cook Inletkeeper in Soldotna at the Wednesday Market, United Tribes of Bristol Bay in Dillingham, in Palmer and more! Check out the full lineup of events and other ideas for celebrating at www.aksalmonday.com
By Kelly Harrell, Executive Director
AMCC decided to take the plunge this spring and submit our concept for scaling up local seafood sales through creation of the Alaska Community Seafood Hub to the international fisheries-focused business plan competition known as Fish 2.0. This was the second time the ground-breaking competition has been hosted after first launching to high acclaim in 2013. For those in the fisheries world, Fish 2.0 quickly became the go-to place for those interested in advancing cutting-edge business models focused on the triple-bottom line of social, environmental, and economic impact.
The rigorous competition is divided into four phases with only those with top scores advancing on to the next stage. Detailed financial projections, plans for dealing with competition, and social and environmental metrics were all part of the process. 170 companies applied and AMCC continued to advance to the next stage, eventually emerging at the top of the pack. In September, we learned we were one of 18 finalists that would give a 5-minute pitch to a crowd of funders and investors at Stanford in November. The competition provided some great resources along the way: expert advisors to help us with our submissions and seasoned coaches to help us polish our pitch to perfection.
When I left Alaska to head to Stanford last week, situated in the heart of Silicon Valley, I had no idea what to expect. I was thrilled that AMCC made it to the finals for our place-based, social enterprise business model and honored to be part of a global gathering of innovative fisheries entrepreneurs. I was both nervous and excited at the opportunity to share our work with other fish businesses and impact investors.
On the first day of the competition, I was put at ease by the amazing camaraderie in the crowd. It was clear that given the fisheries challenges that we face around the planet from, we truly are all in this together. A few faces were familiar as friends from Salty Girls Seafood and Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust were also finalists. Colleagues from Real Good Fish, Credibles, as well as another Alaska competitor, ORCA (Ocean Rich Communities of Alaska), and Ian Dutton from Anchorage, now with Nautilus Impact Investing were also present. Off the Hook Seafood Hub from Nova Scotia and Smart Fish based out of La Paz, Mexico which both have similar business models to ours were also finalists and runners up. As an Alaskan, I of course had mixed feelings about the number of aquaculture focused businesses in the competition. But I was pleased to see the advances being made in land-based aquaculture systems as well as innovations in fish feed made from insects and algae, as opposed to wild fish. A large number of Pacific Islanders were present, as well as companies from Thailand, Switzerland, and Australia. Environmental funders and impact investors from groups like RSF Social Finance, the Calvert Foundation, and Aqua Spark rounded out the crowd.
My pitch came on the second day of the competition within a pool of four other businesses considered at growth stage (more than 3 years of revenue). Most of the other businesses in the track included the Pacific Islanders running compelling businesses to help further the interests of their small island communities. I was first up to deliver my pitch and was thrilled to do so calmly and without forgetting my lines. Giving a business pitch in front of an audience of 250+ folks was completely new to me, and memorizing every line of the 5-minute pitch took at least one hundred rounds of practice. I felt I answered the judge’s questions well during the 8-minute question and answer session, and was thoroughly relieved when it was finally over and I could step down from the stage.
In each of the three tracks, two businesses were selected as winners to receive $5,000 in cash along with the recognition that comes along with having top scores. At the end of the competition, when it was announced we were one of the winners in our track, it was really icing on the cake by that point. I was honored to get to be up on the stage with the other winners and of course excited to take home $5,000 for AMCC. But by then, we all knew that nearly everyone in the crowd was worthy of that level of recognition and support. Fishing is behind the game when it comes to smart innovations in technology and business to help further the long-term health of our fisheries, oceans and coastal communities. We truly are all swimming together, and it was eye-opening to view our work as part of a national and global mosaic of fish-focused entrepreneurial efforts. We certainly plan to stay connected with other businesses and contacts we met at Fish 2.0, especially those advancing seafood hub models, and are hopeful that the exposure results in increased support for our work.
In September, AMCC also learned that the Alaska Community Seafood Hub received a $96,000 grant from the USDA Local Foods Promotion Program. With this support, we will hire a full-time staff member that is solely focused on local seafood sales and operations. We’ll also engage a communications firm to help create the Alaska Community Seafood Hub brand. This funding will be critical in allowing us to expand our seafood offerings, better serve our current customers, and expand to new communities in Alaska.
Adding to the momentum are discussions AMCC has been in with economic players and food businesses about bringing food hubs to Alaska, including a facility in Anchorage that would have amenities like a commercial kitchen and freezer storage space. AMCC and the Alaska Food Policy Council helped bring a Wallace Center workshop on food hubs to Anchorage in October that was attended by food leaders from across the state.
None of this progress would have been possible without the support of our Catch of the Season customers, the fishermen and processors we work with, Kodiak Jig supporters, members, and partners like you. You have made it possible for us to successfully build a local seafood sales program that connects Alaskans to our local fishermen and coastal communities. Thank you so much for your support and stay tuned for more to come soon!
By Hannah Heimbuch, Community Fisheries Organizer
At the end of February, while Homer basked in 40-degree weather, I ventured out for a visit to a very wintery New England. In Gloucester I was able to spend three days with members of the Fish Locally Collaborative, a diverse group of marine conservationists that work to create a healthy ocean through community based fisheries and other important efforts.
This valuable face-to-face meeting allowed me to gain a much deeper understanding of the unique members and joint capacity of the FLC. I have a broader understanding of the social, environmental and economic movements taking shape within the marine conservation world, and how our work in Alaska informs and is informed by those efforts.
I was particularly excited to hear about the ways other organizations have translated positive energy and good ideas into meaningful actions for healthy marine ecosystems, and marine based coastal economies. I met leaders of the Slow Fish movement, individuals doing important research into community-based fisheries models, sustainable seafood marketers building direct relationships between chefs and fishermen, and many others. The diverse projects and programs being run by the independent members of this collaborative reflect a worldwide community of people working hard for sustainably managed fisheries and strong fishing communities.
After several days of conversation with these inspiring people, I ventured up to Portland, Maine for visits with our marine conservation colleagues in the north. An FLC member from Penobscot East Resource Center let me hitch a ride with him up from Gloucester, and gave me the rundown on Maine lobster fishery management. The next day I met with Susie Arnold from the Island Institute to talk about Ocean Acidification awareness and research. (Click here to see an excellent video on ocean acidification that AMCC collaborated with the Institute to create a few years ago.)
I met Lucy Van Hook from the Maine Coast Fisherman’s Association to talk community fisheries. Hugh Cowperthwaite from Coastal Enterprises Inc. took a chilly walk with me through some of Portland’s small, thriving fish markets as well as the Portland Fish Exchange. The PFE is a seafood auction warehouse — one of only a handful on the eastern seaboard — that handles nearly 100 percent of Maine’s finfish. I wrapped this incredible visit up with a conversation with Alexa Dayton from Gulf of Maine Research Institute. I learned about the Marine Resource Education Program’s work to offer expert training to marine industry workers on fisheries management and science, further empowering fishermen to weigh in on the decisions and research that impacts their coastal ecosystems and economies. Before leaving Alexa showed me around the gear lab at GMRI, where engineers work closely with fishermen to improve their gear and practices for sustainable fishing.
I flew out of Boston with much food for thought and landed in the other Portland. While in Oregon, before making my way home to Alaska, I headed to the Pacific Coast to participate in the Fisherpoets Gathering in Astoria. A whole event just for fisherpeople who write? Sounds like the place for me. To be sure, I found my people on the waterfront that weekend. One of the first people I saw walking down the sidewalk in downtown Astoria was AMCC member and fisherpoet, Steven Schoonmaker. I visited an old wooden seiner, the owners of which are Kodiak fishermen that have long participated in the event (a photo of me next to the seiner is pictured right). I read some of my own work, and listened to funny, beautiful and profound stories from many others — including AMCC Board Member, Emilie Springer. Brad Warren from Global Ocean Health, in addition to sharing some fantastic music at the evening events, gave an excellent talk on ocean acidification at the Maritime Museum. I was also able to see the new film The Breach, an incredible look at salmon throughout human history. This event is an excellent showcase of the deep and complex connections that coastal communities have to our oceans and the traditions and work that take place on and alongside them. It comes out in our professional work, in the skills we pass down to our children, and in the art we create to celebrate it.
What an incredible two weeks, packed with information and introductions that will serve to enrich my work in marine conservation for years to come.