We have lots to celebrate as we wrap up the decade in which our company, Salmon Sisters, was born. Our Alaskan community supported us in countless ways as we prepared to become business owners; our parents, teachers and coaches in Homer instilled in us the confidence to dream big and stay deeply rooted in the values that make our home special–a strong community, respect for the environment, and enduring resourcefulness. The Homer Foundation’s Youth Advisory Committee taught us that giving back to our community is powerful no matter what form it takes–through money, time, or attention. During our first seasons running a business, local shops in Homer and Anchorage took a chance on our designs and taught us how to create packing slips and invoices for our first wholesale orders, commercial fishermen wore our first hoodies with pride on and off the water, people around Alaska shared our frozen fish boxes with their families and told their friends out of state where they could find delicious Alaska seafood and the story behind its wild harvest. Every day we’re still learning about running a business and defining success in an ever-changing landscape, but we are grateful for the gifts our community has given us.
We have designed our business to give back to this community, who inspires us deeply, through our Give Fish Project. 1% of our company’s sales is set aside to give wild seafood, caught by our state’s fishermen, to the Food Bank of Alaska. We have donated over 130,000 cans of wild salmon caught by fishermen in Alaska, which have been distributed to communities large and small, across the state. Close to 1 in 7 people, and 1 in 5 children struggle with hunger in Alaska. We are proud to play a part in tackling food insecurity by sharing the bounty of the ocean, and we hope to inspire other businesses to find creative ways to address challenges in their own communities. Eating wild Alaska seafood makes us feel healthy and strong, and we want to share this good food with as many people as possible. What’s more, our state’s sustainably managed renewable resources will provide healthy food and healthy communities for countless generations.
We owe the success of the Give Fish Project to the freight services generously donated by Lynden, the quality fish processing by Silver Bay Seafoods and the hard work of their fishing fleet, and to our customers, who are wearing our gear and supporting our business with their purchases.
We are also proud to be supporting seasonal and full time work for Alaskans through our stores in Homer, Seward and Juneau. We love being part of the local economy, highlighting Alaskan makers and artists, and being involved in the issues most important our oceans and the people and animals who depend on them.
As we head into a new decade, a big thank you to Alaska and Alaskans for inspiring us, supporting us, and giving us the opportunity to tell the story of wild Alaska seafood and our coastal communities. Happy holidays from our crew to yours, and thank you for helping us give fish this year; a rising tide floats all boats.
Emma Laukitis and Claire Neaton, the Salmon Sisters
Highlights of 2019
We started our summer in Cordova with the first salmon running in the Copper River Delta. Emma and Jacob pictured here on their boat the F/V Acadian with a beautiful fresh king salmon.
In June, Emma went west with our dad and fished in the Area M seine fishery. It had been a few years since our family has fished for salmon out where we grew up, and it felt so good to be with the puffins, albatross, humpback whales, smoking volcanoes, lupine-covered tundra and wild weather again.
Claire and Peter brought the F/V Halcyon on its maiden voyage from Oregon to Alaska this spring to tender in Prince William Sound. They delivered the seine fleet's catch to Valdez, and on the off days, they caught shrimp, grilled salmon and made cupcakes for the fleet.
Claire took a mid-summer trip to Kodiak to visit fishcamp friends. They smoked salmon, took steamy banyas, made rhubarb pies, hiked a lot, went on skiff rides and setnet for sockeye. Summer dreams complete!
Claire and Emma went on a trip of a lifetime to Bristol Bay in September, where they got to fish for Rainbow Trout and Arctic Char in the Naknek River and watch bears at Brooks Camp. Most magical wild country of all, especially as the colors were turning yellow and brown. So many people and animals share the wild abundance of this place - read their stories and share your own connection to Bristol Bay at www.wearebristolbay.org.
Emma was invited to share her perspective as an Alaskan commercial fishermen on the treat of the Pebble Mine at Yale's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies this fall. It has been inspiring to see our industry and fishing community take action this year, continuing to fight to protect this important place.
We headed out west for one final hurrah longlining for halibut near Dutch Harbor before winter hit. There were some big fall storms and we got weathered in a few times, but we got to pick blueberries and visit friends in town. Our friend Dawn Heumann came out fishing with us and took some photos for a story Emma wrote for Modern Huntsman Volume Four. Fun to see the beautiful Aleutians in print and write about our life harvesting wild food from Alaska's waters.
While we were out fishing, our team took amazing care of our customers and stores in Homer, Seward and Juneau. They met people visiting from around the world who stopped in to say hello and try on some gear.
We had a chance to share our story of what wealth means to us - in the form of family, food, fishing, and giving back to our community in a short film for John Hancock this fall. It was our pleasure to meet with the organizers of our local food pantry in Homer and make a donation of wild salmon through our Give Fish Project, which gives 1% of our sales in the form of wild seafood to Alaskans who need it most.