• Former Sitka resident Nic Mink publishes book, ‘Salmon: A Glocal History,’ highlighting salmon in Sitka and the world


Former Sitka resident Nicolaas “Nic” Mink — now the Urban Sustainable Foods Fellow at Butler University, Indianapolis — recently published the book Salmon: A Global History that highlights salmon in Sitka, Alaska, and the world.

The book is published by Reaktion Books, LTD, as part of The Edible Series, which features books about different types of food from around the world. The small hardback book is 127 pages with 49 illustrations (30 in color), recipes, bibliography, and index. It costs $18 in the United States ($9.99 on Kindle).

Nic used to lead the now-defunct Sitka Salmon Tours, which took visitors on a walking tour around Sitka to show them the different stages of salmon growth and processing, during the two-plus years he lived in Sitka and worked with the Sitka Conservation Society. He said many of the scripts he developed for the tours were incorporated into the book, which isn’t much longer than a traditional academic paper. Now that he lives in Indiana, Nic still has connections to Sitka’s salmon through a company he started called Sitka Salmon Shares, which markets sustainably caught salmon, halibut, sablefish (black cod), and other fish from Sitka and Juneau to residents of the Midwest United States.

While exploring the state of salmon throughout the world, Nic said he centered a lot of the book on Sitka’s salmon because of its place in the history of the fish. In addition to looking at the natural history of salmon eating, the book also examines cured, canned, and fresh salmon, plus the future of edible salmon. He writes about the role of salmon with Alaska Native cultures, how Alaska’s salmon industry was impacted when a British boy died from botulism after eating canned salmon from Ketchikan in the 1980s, the differences between wild Alaska salmon and farmed salmon, and more.

The book’s description, from the book jacket:

The story of salmon takes readers on a culinary journey from the coast of Alaska to the rivers of Scotland, tracing salmon’s history from the earliest known records to the present. He tells the story of how the salmon was transformed from an abundant fish found seasonally along coastal regions to a mass-produced canned food  and a highly prized culinary delight.

Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, cheap, and widely available, salmon is often listed as an essential part of any diet. A delicious and versatile fish, it can be used to make sashimi, cold smoked for lox, or shaped into a fishcake as an alternative to hamburgers. But while salmon is enjoyed all over the globe, it also swims at the center of controversy, with commercial fishing, global warming, and loss of freshwater habitats all threatening salmon populations and the ecological and health impacts of intense salmon farming under fire.

• Sitka Conservation Society presents another year of Sitka Salmon Tours

Sitka Salmon Tours, presented by the Sitka Conservation Society, returns this summer for its second year, guiding visitors through the journey salmon take from forest to plate. The two-hour tour begins at 1 p.m. on Mondays through Saturdays outside the Sitka Sound Science Center and progresses through Sitka National Historical Park, Sheldon Jackson Hatchery, and ends at Crescent Harbor. Tickets cost $20 per person.

The tours mainly draw from tourists visiting Sitka, but also found interest last summer from local residents with family in town, as something fun and unique to do for an afternoon. Personalized and private tours are available upon request.

“People really respond to how we bring the salmon in nature together with the science of the hatchery and the economic and cultural roles salmon play here,” Helen Schnoes, Salmon Tours staff says. “It helps them understand the significance of salmon — and the need to protect, restore, and enhance their habitat — in a new way.”

Tour guests this year and last immensely enjoy this unique perspective on salmon and life in Sitka, as demonstrated by these Trip Advisor reviews — “Great tour: got to see the real life Alaska … really informative and fun,” “Beautiful, Informative, and Entertaining,” and “The most delightful, interesting walking tour … a breath of fresh air.”

In addition to the daily walking tour, Sitka Salmon Tours also organizes events throughout the summer tailored to Sitkans, such as occasional tours of the Seafood Producers Cooperative, specialty community tours, and a salmon bake fundraiser.

We will be sending more details as the summer progresses, but here’s a heads up, too, about some future events:

  • July 15, “The Rise and Fall of Canned Salmon,” Talk by Nic Mink, 5-6 p.m. at Kettleson Memorial Library. Free and open to the public.
  • July 19, Community Salmon Bake Fundraiser, $20 per person ($15 for children age 12-younger), 6=8 p.m. at Harrigan Centennial Hall.
  • Aug. 5, “Fishing for Change,” Talk by Elizabeth Cockrell, 5-6 p.m. at Kettleson Memorial Library. Free and open to the public.
  • Aug. 7, Seafood Trivia at the Bayview Pub. Sitka Salmon Tours takes over this weekly trivia night with questions about seafood, salmon, and everything fishy. Teams must be entered by 8:45 p.m., trivia begins 9 p.m.
  • Aug. 9-13, Sitka Seafood Festival walks, including regular Salmon Tour, local seafood tour (includes tastings at some of Sitka’s best restaurants), and SPC processor tour; Events include a processor tour (11 a.m. on Aug. 9, $35 with light meal included, meet at location TBA), at least two Sitka Salmon Tours (one at 1 p.m. on Aug. 10, a second at 9 a.m. on Aug. 11, $20, meet at Sitka Sound Science Center), and a Seafood Walk (11 a.m. on Aug. 12, $45, includes processor tour and tastings at local restaurants)

Contact Helen Schnoes for questions, reservations, or for further information about events planned in Sitka this summer. Helen can be reached at the Sitka Conservation Society office at 747-7509, or by cell at (612) 741-1591 or e-mail at helen@sitkawild.org.


• Sitka Conservation Society hosts a Sitka Salmon Tour for Kids

The Sitka Conservation Society will host a family friendly walking tour of Sitka’s salmon habitat from 5:30-7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 26, starting at the Sitka Sound Science Center(834 Lincoln St.).The walking tour will explore the magic of salmon from stream to plate. It is similar to the walking tours offered this summer by Sitka Salmon Tours and the Sitka Conservation Society.

This special family friendly walking tour is a benefit for the Fish to Schools program, which provides local fish and stream to plate education in Sitka schools. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for children and available at Old Harbor Books. Space is limited to 20 participants.

For more information, contact Sitka Salmon Tours and/or the Sitka Conservation Society at 747-7509 (both can be reached at this number).

• Flier for Sitka Salmon Tour for Kids

• KCAW-Raven Radio highlights new walking tour about salmon in Sitka

Recently, KCAW-Raven Radio summer intern Emily Bender produced a story about a new walking tour that teaches tourists and locals about something near and dear to Sitka’s heart — wild salmon.

According to the story, Nicolaas Mink, owner and tour guide for Sitka Salmon Tours, leads behind-the-scenes walking tours of the local salmon fishery from stream to dinner table.

“The tours are really seeking to raise awareness of among healthy forest, healthy ecosystems, healthy community and we’re really doing that through the lens of our salmon fishery here and to a lesser extent our commercial fishery,” says Mink.

“In many ways, it’s a big interpretive project, we’re taking two dozen sites in Sitka, and stringing them together through a walking tour that’s narrated generally by me.”

Mink said the tour is by foot, rather than by bus, because it’s an eco-friendly way to present the subject. It also follows the philosophy of the Sitka Conservation Society, which helps produce the tours. To learn more and watch an audio slideshow, click this link.