Larissa’s Fishing Adventure At Lummi Island Wild
Meet Larissa Norton, Foodee’s West Coast Sales Manager. Besides being an outdoor enthusiast, Larissa is interested in exploring environmentally aware business practices. She believes that companies should serve more than just their shareholders: they have an equal responsibility to the community and planet.
Working with a number of restaurants across North America, Larissa has had the chance to see what goes into maintaining a sustainable business. This farm-to-table philosophy has really resonated with her, as she is educating herself to make a healthier impact on the environment.
Inspired by those that source sustainable ingredients, Larissa wanted to learn about ancient indigenous fishing, unique to First Nations in B.C.’s Salish Sea. Here is her story:
Lummi Island Wild
Lummi Island Wild is one of the ten most sustainable fisheries in the world, as well as the first to be solar powered. The team is committed to having the lowest carbon footprint of any wild pacific salmon fishery in the Salish Sea. Reef netting allows them to release non-targeted species unharmed, meaning bycatch mortality is almost zero.
After making a quick phone call to Ian Kirouac – Reef net Fleet Manager at Lummi Island Wild, he invited me to learn more about the passion behind their business. I left Vancouver for Lummi Island to spend the day out on the ocean. Here I would learn about reef net fishing, as well as what goes into sustainable and ethical fishing practices.
The fishermen welcomed me onto their boats with patched overalls and huge smiles. A tin boat took everyone out to the platforms, called “gears”, where we waited for a school of wild salmon to swim up the artificial reef, which mimics the ocean floor. As impressive as it all was, it’s amazing to think that the Lummi people once made their nets from cedar bark and nettles, along with beach grass woven in.
When the salmon start making their way into the net, a spotter will yell “haul ‘er up!” – that’s when things get real! A bunch of levers, ropes, and gears start gathering all the fish into a central net. This is how we catch the highest quality fish and release any un-targeted species back into the ocean to live their beautiful lives.
Although it was an educational experience learning how to catch, bleed, and clean the salmon, it wasn’t an easy task. I’ve always struggled with eating meat – going back and forth between different diets to support the ethical treatment of animals. The more I’ve learned about where my food comes from, I’ve realized my opposition is more with how animals are treated in the corporate meat industry, and not meat itself. The process of fishing wild salmon through reef net fishing has allowed me to develop a deeper appreciation for their sacred journey that supports the earth’s ecosystem.
Community & Culture
After a day out on the ocean working closely with a great crew, they invited me to a home-cooked sea-to-table dinner. The salmon was delicious; we ate both the Silver (picture above) and Chum we caught that day. Reef net caught salmon tastes significantly better than commercial – it’s fresh, buttery, and complete absence of ‘fishiness’. It was so good that we started eating it as sashimi prior to putting it on the grill.
Spending the day with Lummi Island Wild taught me how they’re keeping century old traditions alive – they actively help members of the local Lummi people to build, deploy and operate their own reef net gears and site.
I believe it’s important to support our local businesses that are passionate about making positive environmental and economic change. Through our food choices, we can influence how food is cultivated, produced, and distributed, and change the world as a result.
- Attempt to find the smallest impact on the environment and push for positive change in the food industry
- Be interested in staying connected to sources of both animals and plant based foods
- Stay educated and be more concerned with accurate standards rather than labels
- Just do it. Take a spontaneous adventure to learn something new and connect yourself to people who are passionate about making a positive change on our planet.
This experience has fueled my fire to continue to make changes that positively impact the beautiful planet we live on. If you’d like to learn more about Lummi Island Wild, click here.