Sustainably Catching Salmon

Our salmon are caught by set-netting, which is a simple, traditional system of catching salmon that uses a minimum of equipment and fuel, and produces almost no by-catch. Unlike many large ocean-going fishing methods, set-netting rarely results in any lost gear (we have never lost a net!). Our nets are tethered to the shore, and the fact our nets are stationary means they don’t become snagged the way a drift net or seine might. We keep our nets in good condition so pieces of net don’t break away and become trash in the ocean.

We remove fish from our nets by hand from a small skiff, saving fuel and ensuring that each fish is carefully handled. Usually when we are picking fish from the nets we pull the skiff along the net by hand. We do use engines to take the fish to the cannery, but our small boats burn far less fuel than a large boat would use.

Our method of catching salmon results in very little “by-catch” or catch of non-target fish or marine wildlife. The mesh used in our nets is the right size to catch salmon, but allows smaller fish to pass through, while larger fish don’t become entangled because their heads don’t fit far enough into the mesh. Most days we don’t catch anything but salmon. Marine mammals and seabirds seem to have figured out what a net is and avoid the nets entirely, and our mammal and bird bycatch is zero.