Rising from a windowsill inside the main office of the Seafood Producers Cooperative in Sitka, overlooking the dock of the oldest fishermen’s cooperative in North America, is a wood carving of a salmon. It’s a trophy from Alaska Airlines Cargo. It reads, “Million Pound Club 2014,” and specifies the total weight of seafood (most of it salmon) the cooperative shipped with Alaska Airlines last year: 1,300,612 pounds.
The Seafood Producers Cooperative, or SPC, is owned and operated by 575 small boat commercial fishermen from Southeast Alaska. Its signature product is premium-quality salmon, mostly King and Coho, that are line-caught, rather than drift netted. Its slogan is, “One hook, one fish at a time.” SPC serves a niche market of high-end restaurants and grocers. Its customers are willing to pay more for salmon that is handled with exceptional care from the second they’re boated until the moment they arrive in a kitchen or fishmonger stall.