January 25, 2006- the Dutch Master sails on…

Sold the Dutch Master today, as I’ll now fish on
someone else’s boat to catch our fish. The buyer is a
young guy fresh out of college with alot more fishing
experience than I had when I got started. He has that
same look of anticipation in his eye as I did when I
bought the boat, and he’s ready to start fishing his
own boat. I saw two of my other buddies at the
Division of Investments, one of who is looking to
upgrade his hand troll permit to a power troll permit.
They, too, looked excited to be making a move.

I’ll show the new owner how the boat runs and go
through it stem to stern. I didn’t even know what I
needed to ask or look for when I bought the boat, but
all the “discoveries” in the past 5 years are still
fresh, and hopefully I’ll get them passed on to the
new kid.

I read an op ed piece today about how Wal Mart is
underselling all other sellers of salmon by at least
$2.00/lb. They sell Chilean salmon, and the author
(from Orlando, no less) thought the fish farmers were
making a mess of it down there. I’m not sure that all
that’s true, but I certainly did agree with her about
1 thing – that shoppers, not Wal Mart, are who decide
where to shop. If people cared about where or how the
stuff was made that they bought, or who was selling it
to them, then Wal Mart wouldn’t have the stranglehold
that it does have now on the retail market.

Well, it’s really down to business now. I’ve been
happily surprised at the reaction I’ve received in
trying to get other trollers to practice the handling
guidelines we have developed. Once they see the
quality, even though it takes them longer than what
they’ve had to do in the past, they see that the
difference is worth the effort. If we’ve learned one
thing since starting 4 years ago, it’s that if you
provide great fish, people will keep coming back and
support you. That’s what we’ll be trying to do with
those we fish with as well.

I do some office work on the side to try to make ends
meet until (if ever?) we can make a living fishing.
There was a discussion that the state of Alaska has to
ready itself for rationalization – that is, that we
have to understand that the price of fish is only
going to decline, and so fewer and fewer fishermen on
larger and larger vessels will have to do all the
catching. I disagreed. Our resource here is finite –
we only can catch so many wild fish, and cannot, like
a farmer, simply plow more ground and plant more seeds
to grow more crops. Therefore, as demand for wild
salmon continues to grow for our finite resource, the
price does not have to decline anymore than the price
of our oil reserves in the Arctic will decline. When
demand goes up and supply stays the same, the price
does not have to go down…unless you believe that Wal
Mart is the only way. We’ll hang in there as long as
we can – mainly because I don’t know now where I’d
turn to for such a decent way to spend my time.

Mark Stopha and Sara Hannan
Alaska Wild Salmon Company
F/V Dutch Master
Hook and Line Fresh, Frozen, and Smoked Wild Salmon
Salmon Pet Treats
4455 N. Douglas Hwy
Juneau, AK 99801

Subscribe to Mark's blog via email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.