Seaweed expert Dolly Garza to give presentation April 27 at UAS Sitka Campus

Dolly Garza, Ph.D., will give a presentation on common edible seaweeds and intertidal beach foods at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 27, in Room 229 at the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus.

Garza, the author of Common Edible Seaweeds in the Gulf of Alaska, is a retired professor with the Alaska Sea Grant program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. A Haida-Tlingít, Garza was born in Ketchikan, where she grew up harvesting seaweed and other intertidal beach foods. She taught seaweed workshops across Alaska during her tenure with the Alaska Sea Grant program, and now lives in Skidegate, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, Canada, where she is a textile artist, basket weaver and raven’s tail weaver.

The presentation is sponsored by the UAS Sitka Campus, Sitka Sound Science Center, and National Park Service. A few samples to try will be available after the talk. For more information, email Kitty LaBounty at kllabounty@alaska.edu.

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Chuck Miller to discuss traditional Tlingít herring roe and intertidal food harvesting on Saturday

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In a special Discovery Day event for the Sitka Herring Festival, Chuck Miller will lead the program, “Storytelling and Sharing: Traditional Tlingít Herring Roe and Intertidal Food Harvesting,” from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, March 26, at the Sitka Sound Science Center.

Miller is the youth program coordinator for the Sitka Tribe of Alaska, and he will captivate you with his personable way of sharing Tlingít wisdom through stories and conversation. He will share two different one-hour interactive programs about the important animals in Tlingít culture, such as ravens and salmon.

At 10 a.m., Miller will share a story followed by an activity about the bounty of food that can be found right out our back door. At 11 a.m., he will tell another story and share about the traditional method of harvesting herring eggs (roe).

The free Discovery Days education program is for Sitka Sound Science Center annual pass holders and takes place on various Saturdays (usually alternate Saturdays). This is a family event and open to learners of all ages. Annual passes are sold at the door and run $90 for families and $30 for individuals for the full year.

For more information, contact Kristina Tirman at the Sitka Sound Science Center at 747-8878, Ext. 1.

Third annual Sitka Herring Festival kicks off March 18 with month of events

 

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Spring is right around the corner in Sitka, and nothing says spring in Sitka like the arrival of the herring. The Sitka Tribe of Alaska‘s third annual Sitka Herring Festival kicks off on Friday, March 18, with a month of fantastic event for adults and kids alike.

This year the festival kicks off at 11 a.m. on Friday, March 18, with the Blessing of Herring Rock (Yaaw T’eiyí) in front of the Sheet’ka Kwáan Naa Kahídi. Herring Rock is a cultural landmark of the Kiks.ádi clan, and a member of the clan leads this annual ceremony. Please note this event date and time have changed since first announced.

Derby FlyerFor those kids who like a little competition, there’s the Sitka Herring Derby. As in previous years, the Herring Derby will be a fun event for kids and parents. The Derby starts on Saturday, March 19, and continues through Saturday, April 9. Weigh your biggest fish every day (from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday through Friday and from 3-6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday) at the Sitka Tribe of Alaska Resources Production Office at 429 Katlian Street. May the best (biggest) fish win. The awards ceremony will be April 12 at Blatchley Community Swim Pool.

Also on Saturday, March 19, is a herring-themed Discovery Days program at the Sitka Sound Science Center. Discovery Days is a youth educational program from 10 a.m. to noon that meets every other Saturday, and this event will feature Sitka Herring Festival coordinator Jessica Gill discussing the life cycle of herring.

The Sitka Whalefest and Sitka Sound Science Center will host the annual food web cruise fundraiser for the Whalefest from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, March 26. This is an Allen Marine harbor cruise that usually features some of the best whale-watching of the spring. The cost is $55 per person, which includes a light breakfast spread. Tickets are available at Old Harbor Books.

This year’s Wearable Arts Show, sponsored by the Greater Sitka Arts Council, will feature a new attraction as local artists team up to dedicate a piece about the growing problem of waste in our oceans.

On April 1, is the ArtiGras Art Walk and logos are due for local high school students to submit their Sitka Herring Festival logo designs. In addition to the usual art found in Sitka galleries and businesses during the art walk (hosted by the Greater Sitka Arts Council), the Sheet’ka Kwáan Naa Kahídi will host a variety of community artists and herring dishes from around the world from 5-8 p.m. on Friday, April 1.

Also like last year, Sitka Community Schools will host the Herring Fun Run. The run will start at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 2, and will feature a couple of loops of the totem trails at Sitka National Historical Park. Herring swim in schools, so bring your friends.

The Sitka Herring Festival community potluck is from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, April 7, at Sweetland Hall at the Sheldon Jackson Campus. Bring a dish to share. The guest speaker, Ilona Kemp-Noordeloos, is a PhD. student at University of Alaska Fairbanks who will give the presentation, “Herring and the Human Element in the Bristol Bay Fisheries.”

More info for all these events can be found online at http://sitkaherringfestival.wordpress.com or at the festival’s Facebook page. Or you can email sitkaherringfestival@gmail.com or call 747-7168 for info.

• 2016 Sitka Herring Festival calendar of events

• Sitka Herring Festival logo contest rules and entry form

• 2016 Sitka Herring Festival Kids’ Fishing Derby flier

• Alaskans Own community-supported fisheries program announces 2016 season subscription prices

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Sitka-based Alaskans Own seafood recently announced its subscription prices for its 2016 community-supported fisheries (CSF) program in Sitka, Juneau, and Anchorage.

Alaskans Own was the first CSF program in the state, modeling its program after the successful community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs that let customers deal directly with harvesters so they can buy subscription shares to the year’s crop/catch. In addition to the CSF program, Alaskans Own usually has a table at the Sitka Farmers Markets during the summer (and plans to have a larger presence at the market this summer).

AO flier no tagsThis is the seventh year of the Alaskans Own CSF program, and there are four-month and six-month subscriptions available starting in May. The six-month subscriptions allow people to keep receiving freshly caught seafood through October instead of August, when the traditional four-month subscriptions end. Half-subscriptions also are available. Subscriptions include a mix of locally troll-caught black cod (sablefish), halibut, king salmon, coho salmon, lingcod and miscellaneous rockfish, depending on the commercial fishing season and prices.

AO logo-01 (2)“We’re so excited to be going into another year of connecting more Alaskans with the best fish out there,” said Anya Grenier, Alaskans Own seafood coordinator. “So little of the incredible bounty of our waters stays in state, or even in the U.S. We want to change that dynamic, and we think the place to start is investing in our fishermen and our community.”

This year’s price for a six-month full subscription (about 60 pounds, or 10 pounds a month) in Sitka is $825 (does not include sales tax) and $435 for a half subscription (about 30 pounds). The price for a four-month full subscription (about 40 pounds) is $565 and $300 for a half subscription (about 20 pounds). Sitka residents are required to pay 5 percent city sales tax if purchased before March 31, and 6 percent sales tax after that. Wholesale orders are available, and the deadline for subscription orders is May 1.

Prices and sales tax charges may vary for the other communities participating in the program. People can use the Alaskans Own online store site to purchase their CSF shares. You also can send a check to Alaskans Own, P.O. Box 1229, Sitka, Alaska, 99835. Delivery times and dates in Sitka will be announced later and usually take place at the old mill building next to the Sitka Sound Science Center (834 Lincoln Street).

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Photo by Joshua Roper / Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI)

The Alaskans Own seafood program is managed by the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association. It also partners with the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust, the Fishery Conservation Network and Local Fish Fund, which have missions to strengthen Alaskan fishing communities and marine resources through scientific research, education, and economic opportunity.

For more information about the Alaskans Own seafood program, contact Anya Grenier at alaskansownfish@gmail.com or 738-2275.

• New Silver Bay Seafoods cannery gives bonus to Sitka Sound Science Center

Workers pack sockeye salmon on the final day of seasonal canning operations Tuesday (Sept. 8, 2015) at Silver Bay Seafoods. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Workers pack sockeye salmon on the final day of seasonal canning operations Tuesday (Sept. 8, 2015) at Silver Bay Seafoods. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

(Note: The following article ran on Pages 1 and 10 of the Friday, Sept. 11, 2015, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel. It is reprinted here with permission.)

Sitka Sound Science Center Director Lisa Busch, left, and the center’s board of directors receive a $75,000 check from Silver Bay Seafoods CEO Rich Riggs and plant manager Wayne Unger recently at SBS’s new canning facility. From left are Busch, Linda Waller, Steve Clayton, Unger, Riggs, and Trish White. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Sitka Sound Science Center Director Lisa Busch, left, and the center’s board of directors receive a $75,000 check from Silver Bay Seafoods CEO Rich Riggs and plant manager Wayne Unger recently at SBS’s new canning facility. From left are Busch, Linda Waller, Steve Clayton, Unger, Riggs, and Trish White. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

By TOM HESSE
Daily Sitka Sentinel Staff Writer

In a story that’s going to have a lot of digits, the number 12 might be the most important.

All canned goods have a coded number on the bottom that gives the location of where the food came from, when it was canned and who packaged it.

If the code on the bottom of canned salmon starts with a number 12, it means it was canned in Sitka. It also means the Sitka Sound Science Center received a one-cent donation for the production of that can of salmon.

And — if you’re Silver Bay Seafoods CEO Rich Riggs — it’s also a call-out to the fans of your favorite football team.

“So if you’re a (Seattle) Seahawks fan, that’s good news,” Riggs said.

Silver Bay has just wrapped up the inaugural year of its canning operation. The $7 million capital investment was the latest expansion of the Sitka-based company, founded in 2007 at the old Alaska Pulp Corp. mill site where it processed salmon for the fresh and frozen fish market.

Before Silver Bay Seafoods started canning fish there hadn’t been a cannery in Sitka for more than 50 years.

Earlier this week Riggs gave a tour of the canning line to the Sitka Sound Science Center board of directors. It was to celebrate a partnership between the two in which Silver Bay donated one cent for every can that rolled off the line.

Sitka Sound Science Center Director Lisa Busch said it’s one of the best examples there is of an industry supporting research in its own field of business.

“We are linked with the fishing industry and we really wanted to find some stable support, basically from the fishing industry,” Busch said. “We want to be partnered with fishermen and the fishing industry.”

Riggs said the rationale for that connection is obvious at any fish hatchery in the state. And then there’s the fact that the Sitka Sound Science Center is heir to the fishery science program pioneered by Sheldon Jackson College, which closed in 2007.

“You look and a lot of managers in the state have had some educational component at SJ. We firmly believe that sustainable fisheries are critical to Alaska’s communities and Alaska fishermen,” Riggs said.

Canning operations started in the second week of July, with three lines for three different sized cans. The largest cans run through the system at a rate of around 250 per minute, and the other sizes at around 215 cans per minute.

To the Sitka Sound Science Center, 60 minutes of canning results in a donation about equal to the hourly rate of some attorneys.

“I’m really excited that they’re so into this idea,” Busch said. “I feel like it’s really going to allow us to move forward to have somewhat stable funding from the fishing industry.”

Because of business interests, Silver Bay Seafoods won’t disclose how many cans it produced this year, but the first payment to the Sitka Sound Science Center was for $75,000.

The new canning line expands the total Silver Bay Seafoods warehouse footprint to more than 80,000 square feet, Riggs said.

The expansion was headed up by Mike Duckworth, who has 34 years of experience building and maintaining canning lines. One of the first things he had to do was acquire all the pieces, because most of the key elements for canning salmon date back to before his career even started.

“The filling machine has actually not been replicated the same,” Duckworth said. “There have been companies that’s tried to replicate them, but they found out it’s not feasible. They literally put millions of dollars into it and just couldn’t make money off of them.”

The technology dates back to the 1930s and ’40s, and Duckworth said the last major production of filling machines ended in the ’60s.

“Our equipment was probably cast in the late ’40s to the ’50s,” Duckworth said, adding that rebuilding those filling machines is a key piece of canning salmon in Alaska.

“It’s something everybody does. If you’re going to be in the industry then once every 7-10 years you completely rebuild these things,” Duckworth said. “We spent the last year (rebuilding). We had a crew of seasoned, Alaska canning machinists that were working with me in rebuilding and setting up the equipment and getting it ready for installation.”

The old equipment is then blended with new systems to create the modern canning system.

“That plant, it’s just a good blend of the old technology and the new,” Duckworth said.

A special slime line handles the salmon destined for canning, processing them in the usual manner. The fish are fed into one of the three canning lines where more than a dozen employees help monitor the process.

As salmon move along the line, they are packaged in cans that drop down a track from a room in the second story of the warehouse. A machine fills the can while employees check for bones and quality. Between the machine that affixes the lid and the track that kicks out defective cans is a printer that marks each can with a code, all of which start with the number 12.

Once sealed, the cans are loaded onto carts and taken to a separate station to cook before being stacked, wrapped and loaded into trucks to send them as far away as Australia.

Despite a low salmon year, Riggs said the canning operation was close to its projected target this season and there’s room to grow next year.

Tuesday (Sept. 8) was the last day of canning for the year, and it was frozen Bristol Bay sockeye that went through the process. The majority of the fish processed this year, however, cam from Southeast Alaska.

“The concept is the salmon season is over in Southeast, but then we can continue to operate the plant with the sockeye season in Bristol Bay going on,” Riggs said. “So we wanted to increase our capacity to process local fish as well as pick up some of those other Alaska fisheries, and the canning line allows us to do that.”

And if things continue to run as they did this year, the canning line also will allow for continued research into fisheries at the Sitka Sound Science Center.

“It funds all science center things,” Busch said. “So it goes toward research and education programs here in town and also toward our hatchery.”

Funding for independent science centers in Alaska can be tough to come by, and Busch said it can often be from unrelated industries, such as oil. Silver Bay Seafoods has worked with the Sitka Sound Science Center in the past, for example in the center’s cost-recovery fishery, and this new program is a logical continuation of their partnership, Busch said.

“We’re doing stuff that the fishermen are interested in,” Busch said. “To me this is so great that a big company, and a local company at that, are this invested in what we’re doing.”

Or, as Silver Bay Seafoods and the Sitka Sound Science Center are putting it, salmon makes cents.

• First Natural History Seminar of the 2015-16 school year to be about mushrooms

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The first Natural History Seminar of the 2015-16 school year will feature guest speaker Noah Siegel giving the talk, “To Live and To Dye For: Edible, Poisonous, and Dye Mushrooms of Alaska,” at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 10, in Room 229 at the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus.

Noah Siegel also will lead mushroom forays on the following weekend, with details to be announced at the talk. He also was a featured speaker at this year’s Girdwood Fungus Fair and Cordova Fungus Festival.

Siegel has developed extensive field mycology skills over two decades through photographing and identifying macrofungi across North America and on multiple trips to Australia and New Zealand. His mushroom photographs have won numerous awards from the North American Mycological Association (NAMA) photography contests. His technique and attention to detail are unrivaled, arising from a philosophy of maximizing utility for identification purposes while maintaining a high degree of aesthetic appeal.

The Natural History Seminar series features regular talks (usually monthly) about natural history topics of interest to Sitka. The series is sponsored by the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus and the Sitka Sound Science Center. For more information, contact Kitty LaBounty at 747-9432.

• Alaskans Own community-supported fisheries program announces 2015 season subscription prices

AOFlyer2015Sitka

Sitka-based Alaskans Own seafood recently announced its subscription prices for its 2015 community-supported fisheries (CSF) program in Sitka, Juneau, Anchorage, and, new this year, Seattle.

Alaskans Own was the first CSF program in the state, modeling its program after the successful community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs that let customers deal directly with harvesters so they can buy subscription shares to the year’s crop/catch. In addition to the CSF program, Alaskans Own usually has a table at the Sitka Farmers Markets during the summer.

AO flier no tagsThis is the sixth year of the Alaskans Own CSF program, and there are four-month and six-month subscriptions available starting in May. The six-month subscriptions allow people to keep receiving freshly caught seafood through October instead of August, when the traditional four-month subscriptions end. Half-subscriptions also are available. Subscriptions include a mix of locally caught black cod (sablefish), halibut, king salmon, coho salmon, lingcod and miscellaneous rockfish, depending on the commercial fishing season and prices.

According to newly hired director Caroline Lester, this year’s price for a six-month full subscription (about 60 pounds, or 10 pounds a month) in Sitka is $886.16 (includes sales tax) and $446.40 for a half subscription (about 30 pounds). The price for a four-month full subscription (about 40 pounds) is $606.32 and $326.46 for a half subscription (about 20 pounds). Prices are slightly higher for the other communities participating in the program. People can use the Alaskans Own online store site to purchase their CSF shares. Deliveries in Sitka will be either the last or second-to-last Thursday of the month at the old mill building next to the Sitka Sound Science Center.

The Alaskans Own program is associated with the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust. The Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust’s mission is to strengthen Alaskan fishing communities and marine resources through scientific research, education, and economic opportunity.

For more information, contact Caroline Lester at info@alaskansown.com or 738-2275.