Enjoy some tasty chowder or baguette sandwiches and support the Sitka Local Foods Network this week

Now you can eat tasty food and support local nonprofits. The Sitka Local Foods Network is one of five local nonprofit organizations participating in this winter’s Season of Giving at the Ludvig’s Bistro Chowder Cart, located in the historic Mill Building next to the Sitka Sound Science Center.

Stop by the Ludvig’s Chowder Cart from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday through Saturday, Dec. 1-4, and a portion of your meal purchase will benefit the Sitka Local Foods Network. The Sitka Local Foods Network is the fourth local nonprofit to have a week of support from the Ludvig’s Chowder Cart, joining the Sitka Homeless Coalition (Nov. 10-13), Friends of the Sheldon Jackson Museum (Nov. 17-20), and the Herring Protectors (Nov. 26-27). There will be one more nonprofit participating next week.

“The Sitka Local Foods Network is honored to be selected for the Ludvig’s Season of Giving,” SLFN board president Charles Bingham said. “We love to see local businesses helping support the community like this. Thanks to Ludvig’s chef/owner Colette Nelson for including us in this program and supporting local food security.”

The Sitka Local Foods Network is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to increase the amount of locally produced and harvested food in the diets of Southeast Alaskans.

We accomplish our mission by growing fresh produce at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden (located behind St, Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church), coordinating the Sitka Farmers Market (where we sell the produce and also offer a matching program for WIC/SNAP benefits), sponsoring the Sitka Food Business Innovation Contest (where a new business and an established business can win $1,500 each for using more local food in their products) and helping link Sitka residents to garden and food preservation/cooking education opportunities. 

If people are interested in volunteering or joining our board of directors, they can contact SLFN Board President Charles Bingham at sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com or 907-623-7660.

Sitka Mermaid Festival and Sitka Seafood Festival combine to host big weekend events

The Sitka Mermaid Festival and the Sitka Seafood Festival are joining forces this year to host several events this weekend. The Sitka Mermaid Festival started last year as a way to celebrate seaweed and other sea veggies, while the Sitka Seafood Festival has been around for about a decade and celebrates the fish in our area.

The Sitka Seafood Festival launched some events as early as July, but for the next week or so the events will be co-hosted by both organizations.

Things kick off from 1-3 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, Aug. 24, with a youth Paint and Snack event featuring Tsimshian artist Mark Sixbey at the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association office at 304 Baranof Street (the former Island Institute office). The cost for this event is $10.

Meet from 11 a.m. to noon on Sunday, Aug. 25, at Halibut Point Recreation Area for a beach clean-up. Participants are encouraged to bring gloves. (The Sitka Kitch class about cooking with seaweed originally scheduled for Monday, Aug. 26, has been canceled.)

At 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 27, at Rio’s Wine Bar (above Ludvig’s Bistro), there is an adult Paint and Sip led by Sarah Dart. This event costs $40 and includes one class of wine.

From 6-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 28, at Evergreen Natural Foods is a Mermaids Love Seaweed! seaweed cosmetics and bath make-and-take event.

At 6 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 29, at the Sitka Sound Science Center is a Food For Thought: Where Art and Science Connect panel discussion on drawing creative inspiration from science.

The Umami Banquet: A Tasting Event Sourced From The Sea takes place at 6 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 30, at Harrigan Centennial Hall. This event features guest chef Cassandra Victoria Kelly from California. Tickets are $65 for the full tasting menu and $40 for standing-room only, and are available at Old Harbor Books. This event features performances by the Sitka Cirque aerial silks team, live music and a silent auction.

The big day is Saturday, Aug. 31, with the Marketplace open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Harrigan Centennial Hall. There is a Mermaid Promenade costume parade down the Sitka Sea Walk from the Sitka Sound Science Center to Crescent Harbor Shelter that starts at 11:30 a.m. (meet at 11 a.m. at the science center). There are food booths, kids’ games and other activities from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Crescent Harbor Shelter, followed by fish tote races from 4-6 p.m. at Crescent Harbor Shelter. The day closes with the free Rock the Dock concert/dance event from 5-11 p.m. at Crescent Harbor Shelter (this event, which includes a beer garden for adults, is co-hosted by the Sitka Conservation Society).

Don’t forget the Sitka Local Foods Network also has a Sitka Farmers Market scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 31, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian Street).

The Marketplace continues for a second day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 1, at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

The Sitka Seafood Festival also includes Wet Feet: Sitka Tells Tales from 6-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 17, at Beak Restaurant (co-hosted with ArtChange, Inc.), with a suggested donation of $5. The Sitka Seafood Festival schedule concludes with a marine safety inspector course taught by the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association (AMSEA) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday through Friday, Sept. 23-27, and 8-10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28, at the Public Safety Training Academy (this event is free for qualified commercial fishermen and $995 for all others, register at the link above).

For more information, contact Amelia Mosher at sitkamermaidfestival@gmail.com or Tara Racine at director.asft@gmail.com.


Earth Month activities include the Parade of the Species, a youth eco-detectives event, gardening classes, free bus rides, and more

Earth Day is on Sunday, April 22, and Earth Week this year is Monday through Sunday, April 16-22. Sitka will host a variety of activities for Earth Week, including a couple of spring clean-up events, a couple of gardening classes, free bus rides, a herring potluck, and the 17th annual Earth Day Parade of the Species.


There is a community-wide spring clean-up event from April 14-22, when people can bring in a variety of large items and hazardous materials to the transfer station and the Sawmill Cove Scrap Yard (hazardous materials are only April 21-22). This event is hosted by the City and Borough of Sitka Public Works Department.

The “Starting a Cottage Foods Business” class on the poster, hosted by the Sitka Kitch and Juneau office of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service, scheduled for April 14 has been canceled due to low registration in Juneau (the class was to be videoconferenced to Sitka).

The RIDE public transit in Sitka will offer free bus rides again this year during Earth Week (April 16-20). This has been a yearly offering from the RIDE, which is operated by a partnership between Sitka Tribe of Alaska and the nonprofit Center for Community.

There is an Arctic Mission talk at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 17, at the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus. There also is an Earth Day Preschool Story Time at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 19, at the Sitka Public Library.

The Sitka Local Foods Network will host a free gardening class during Earth Week. Jennifer Carter and Michelle Putz will teach “Sitka Gardening 101,” which takes place from 6:30-8 p.m. on Thursday, April 19, at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall (408 Marine Street, parking off Spruce Street). There also is a “Greenhouse Gardening” class taught by Andrea Fraga from 6:30-8 p.m. on Thursday, April 26, at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall. Contact Charles Bingham at 623-7760 or check the Sitka Local Foods Network website for more details of upcoming garden classes.

There is a Herring Potluck at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 19, at Harrigan Centennial Hall, hosted by Sitka Tribe of Alaska.

There is a Tlingít potato workshop from 9:30-11:30 a.m. on Friday, April 20, hosted by the U.S. Forest Service Sitka Ranger District and Sitka Tribe of Alaska. This event takes place at the Sitka Ranger District office, 2108 Halibut Point Road.

The 17th annual Parade of Species, hosted by the Sitka Conservation Society, is on Friday, April 20. Parade participants are invited to dress as their favorite animal or plant and gallop, slither, swim, or fly with us. We will meet in Totem Square at 2:45 p.m. and parade down Lincoln Street to the Sitka Sound Science Center at 3:15 p.m. There will be a number of community organizations with hands-on Earth Day inspired activities for the whole family from 3:30-5:30 p.m. after the parade. Prizes will be awarded for Best Use of Recycled Material, Most Realistic, Best Local Plant/Animal, and Best Group Costume. For more information, contact Claire Sanchez at claire@sitkawild.org or call 747-7509. Click this link for a slideshow of scenes from the 2017 Parade of the Species.

Sitka Conservation Society, Sitka Sound Science Center and Bags For Change will host the movie, “Plastic Ocean,” at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 20, in Room 106 at UAS Sitka Campus.

Sitka National Historical Park and Sitka Sound Science Center are hosting an Eco-Detectives event from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 21, at Sitka National Historical Park for kids ages 5 and older.

The Sitka Cirque‘s Earth Day Showcase, “The Jungle Book,” takes place from 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 21, and Sunday, April 22, at the Sitka Performing Arts Center.

Sitka Conservation Society and the U.S. Forest Service are hosting an Indian River Trash Pick-Up from 10-11:30 a.m. on Sunday, April 22.

Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School and Sitka Conservation Society will host a “We Love Our Fishermen” lunch from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 25, at the school.

Sitka Conservation Society hosts a Tongass Trivia contest for adults age 21 and older from 6-8 p.m. on Friday, April 27, at Baranof Island Brewing Co.

Sitka Tribe of Alaska and partners celebrate fifth annual Sitka Herring Camp

A Mount Edgecumbe High School student examines herring gills under a microscope. (Photo courtesy of Bethany Goodrich)

Students in Sitka schools have been diving deep into the study of herring during Sitka Tribe of Alaska’s fifth annual Herring Camp. The Herring Camp programming was centered on the cultural and ecological importance of Pacific herring and timed to coincide with the arrival of herring in Sitka Sound. Sitka Tribe of Alaska staff spent a week at both Mount Edgecumbe High School and Sitka High School studying herring anatomy and collecting oceanographic data. Sitka Tribe of Alaska staff also examined marine food webs with Blatchley Middle School and will present a “Herring in the Hallways” microscopy event at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School next week.

A Sitka High School student collects plankton aboard a Sitka Herring Camp research cruise. (Photo courtesy of Tara Racine)

Students and teachers have responded positively to the herring programming. Chohla Moll, MEHS science teacher said, “The STA Herring Camp curriculum is an amazing integration of science and traditional ecological knowledge. It illustrates to students the strong connection between the knowledge of their elders and the scientific information they are learning in school.”

The purpose of Sitka Tribe of Alaska’s Herring Camp is to invest in youth skills, providing students with hands-on science experience and exposing them to Alaska-based career opportunities. Kyle Rosendale, Sitka Tribe of Alaska’s Fisheries Biologist said, “We hope students will gain a greater understanding and appreciation of their local ecosystems and be motivated to become the next generation of stewards for important cultural and ecological resources like herring.”

Students who participated in the Herring Camp learned scientific techniques, gained exposure to traditional ecological knowledge, and connected with Sitka professionals working on natural resource management. The week-long high school camp sessions included dissection labs, discussions on cultural connections and herring ecology, oceanographic and morphometric data analysis, an introduction to fisheries management techniques, career path discussions, and a research cruise during which students applied a variety of field observation and data collection skills.

Herring provide a rich topic of study for local students. Sitka Sound is the last remaining population of herring in the state that consistently provides a significant subsistence herring egg harvest. Sitka herring eggs are shared widely throughout Alaska. Herring are a forage fish and a critical part of the marine food web, providing food for other important species such as lingcod, coho salmon, king salmon, halibut, sea lions and humpback whales. Coastal archeologist Iain McKechnie called herring the “central node of the marine ecosystem”, adding “they aren’t the base, they aren’t the top, but they are the thing through which everything else flows.

Herring Camp (aka, Yaa Khusgé Yaaw Woogoo, or Knowledge of Herring Camp) was started in 2014 and was originally held at Sitka National Historical Park. Now in its fifth year, the Herring Camp has grown to reach classrooms in four local schools and is made possible through collaboration with MEHS, the Sitka School District, the Alaska Department of Fish & Game, the US Forest Service, the National Park Service, the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus, the Sitka Conservation Society, the Sitka Sound Science Center, and Allen Marine. Rosendale explains, “Collaboration is absolutely critical to the success of Herring Camp; we couldn’t do it without our collaborators, all of whom have made important contributions to herring outreach and education in Sitka.”

Sitka Tribe of Alaska’s work with Blatchley students was also a part of another community collaboration on herring and food webs. In addition to working with Sitka Tribe of Alaska staff, BMS science teacher Stacy Golden also planned lessons with Charlie Skulkta, Jr., St. Lazaria National Wildlife Refuge, the Alaska Raptor Center, and a boat trip to St. Lazaria.

Financial support for this initiative was generously provided the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Alaska Conservation Foundation.

This year’s camp is held in loving memory of Michelle Ridgeway of Oceanus Alaska. Michelle was a passionate scientist and youth educator. She helped get the Herring Camp off the ground in 2014 and was an integral part of the camp every year until her passing in January of 2018. Her creativity and enthusiasm are deeply missed.

Sitka Tribe/SEATOR join new Alaska Ocean Acidification Network tribal research working group

Esther Kennedy at the SEATOR lab in Sitka.

While most people don’t know much about ocean acidification, it has become a major concern of Alaska fishing communities. Higher rates of CO2 means the ocean is 30 percent more acidic than it was three centuries ago, and that has impacted everything from how shellfish build their shells to causing harmful algal blooms that result in paralytic shellfish poisoning and other issues.

In order to monitor ocean acidification and its impact in Alaska coastal communities, the Sitka Tribe of Alaska (STA) and its partners in the Southeast Alaska Tribal Ocean Research (SEATOR) have joined the new Alaska Ocean Acidification Network (AOAN) tribal research working group.

Jeromy Grant, left, and Sean Williams of Hoonah Indian Association take water samples for SEATOR.

“Global warming increases the risk of shellfish toxins, while its partner ocean acidification directly threatens shellfish survival,” STA Environmental Specialist Esther Kennedy said. “We monitor ocean acidification and shellfish toxins at local beaches to ensure that shellfish remain a sustainable and safe wild food source despite ongoing environmental changes.”

The tribal working group was formed to coordinate ocean acidification research and monitoring activities, as well as local community outreach activities, between tribal organizations across Alaska. So far discussions have been on creating consistency in data collection, and expanding data collection to sites in the Arctic that are not currently adequately sampled.  This effort is about expanding tribal capacity for research and monitoring, and having tribes take the lead in some areas in Alaska which are under sampled by university and agency researchers, as well as partnering with those researchers to build local capacity.

In addition to Sitka Tribe of Alaska (STA), other members of the AOAN tribal working group include Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery in Seward, Sun’aq Tribe of Kodiak, the Native Village of Kotzebue, and Yakutat Tlingít Tribe. SEATOR includes 16 Southeast tribal partners, plus Sun’aq Tribe in Kodiak, with its lab located in Sitka. The Sitka Sound Science Center recently posted an online survey about ocean acidification for the AOAN.

“Over the past few years the Sitka Tribe of Alaska (STA) has become a leader in Alaska in monitoring for shellfish toxicity for communities,” said Davin Holen, who is coordinating the tribal working group for AOAN. “This includes working closely with communities throughout Southeast Alaska to monitor stocks important for subsistence harvests. This effort has lead to the establishment of the Southeast Alaska Tribal Ocean Research (SEATOR), which is housed in the environmental department of STA. Recently the STA lab installed equipment to monitor for ocean acidification. STA worked collaboratively with the Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery in Seward to set up monitoring protocols for ocean acidification. Using their existing SEATOR network for testing shellfish, STA is beginning to monitor ocean acidification levels throughout Southeast Alaska. Additional monitoring will occur in collaboration with the Sun’aq Tribe of Kodiak for Kodiak Archipelago communities, along with two sites under development in the Arctic. Tribal monitoring of environmental conditions in Southeast Alaska by STA through the SEATOR network has become a model for other areas of Alaska, making STA a vital partner for marine science in Alaska.”

The Sitka Tribe of Alaska continuously monitors the carbonate chemistry of Sitka Harbor and is beginning a discrete sample collection program modeled after the Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery’s existing program. The Sitka Tribe coordinates discrete sample collection and analysis with the SEATOR partnership’s existing weekly phytoplankton and shellfish biotoxin monitoring programs, including with the Hoonah Indian Association and other Southeast Alaska tribal partners.

Kennedy said SEATOR’s participation in the Alaska Ocean Acidification Network tribal working group is a natural extension of its shellfish testing work.

“We installed a Burke-o-Lator (BoL) in early June, which is an instrument that can continuously monitor the chemistry of water pumped through it and can measure individual preserved water samples,” Kennedy said. “While we’re still working to fully calibrate the individual water sample analysis portion of the instrument, we have started shipping kits of bottles and preservative to our partners. Since our partners are already collecting a phytoplankton sample every week and shellfish samples every two weeks, our goal is for partners to add OA-sample collection to their phytoplankton sampling routine and to ship us preserved samples with their clams every two weeks. Ocean acidification’s specific effects on nearshore ecosystems are still not well known, so we’re hoping that by pairing OA samples with phytoplankton assemblages and shellfish toxins, we’ll get a clearer picture of each community’s vulnerability. We are also interested in seeing whether the chemistry in our OA samples helps us to predict phytoplankton toxins, as work in California has suggested that domoic acid production is higher in more acidic waters.”

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.

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

DD - Special Event, StoryTelling

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



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

Flier no tabs

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).


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)

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.