Pacific Fishing, Nov, 99 (pg 52, 56-58)
Value Adding, More for Your Fish
November 1999, Page 52
By Susan Chambers, Michel Drouin, Helen Kitchen Branson,
Tim Matsue, Kathleen Menke, Brad Warren, and Jeb Wyman
From automatic pinbone removers to inspired ideas for ready-to-eat seafood, value adding has become a kind of Holy Grail for seafood producers. Fishermen are building boats designed specifically for top-quality handling and freezing. Producers are scouting out wider markets through online auctions, smoking their fish, and finding ways to sell incidentally caught fish that lacked markets in the past.
The Great Pinbone Race
Competing Machines Can Pull or Cut Out Salmon Pinbones
Ray Wadsworth has become Alaska's pinbone champion, but he's still got sharp competition in the race to market pinbone removal machines - a technoloogy that many expect will increase the value of Alaska salmon.
When the irrepressible Ray Wadsworth brought home 100,000 pounds of 100% bone-free, vacuum-packed salmon fillets from Southeast Alaska last August, he wasn't just demonstrating the viability of his pinbone-removing machine. (see related artice page 56) He was staking a claim in the coming revolution in the wild-salmon market: boneless fillets.
Pinbone removal isn't a novel idea. FTC of Sweden has offered
a hand held device for removing pinbones since 1986, the Ergo-LIght.
Rocotech, also of Sweden, and Rapro, distributed by Inventive Marine Products,
are other hand-held devices
currently on the market. And when your labor is inexpensive enough, needle-nose pliers do the job. In fact, many Alaska fishermen associate eroding salmon prices with lines of Chilean fish-farm workers armed with pliers, busily producing
Until recently, though, there hasn't been a machine prepared to compete
workers- a machine that can handle the 100-million-plus wild salmon that Alaska
fishermen haul in each summer. Ray Wadsworth's machine, and the machines below,
will be among those competing to answer the call.
[following were descriptions of Pinbone pulling machines: Carnitech,
Trio, followed by TBRS:]
Slice or Pull
Wadsworth's machine is the only salmon pinbone-removing machine that
is based on
cutting out pinbones rather than plucking or pulling them out.
Choosing this approach was a gamble, and Wadsworth knows it. The
that the process creates a fillet with a slice down its length-a cut almost down to the
skin-where the strip of pinbones was removed. The 100,000 pounds of chum fillets
he brought down on his floating processor Wild Salmon are such fillets. No one
knows if consumers will warm to the product.
But Wadworth is optimistic. He liked to invoke the example of
the pitted olive, a
product that was strange and new when it was first intorduced because the olives had
holes in them. The pitted olive, of course, was embraced by the public. Similarly, he
thinks consumers will embrace his unique fillets.
He also says that the slice in the fillets tends to "heal," especially
after freezing in a
vacuum pack, much the same way that whitefish fillets in a block tend to bond to
Wadsworth traded the liability of a slice in his fillets for the assets
he sees in his
approach. he learned early on that wild salmon pinbones cannot be pulled-they will
break off-before a fish has gone through rigor, the stiffening of muscles that affects all
muscle tissue after death. The onset and duration of rigor depends on variables such
as the temperature of the fish and how much it has struggled before being landed.
Rigor softens the tissures that anchor pinbones in salmon.
By cutting pinbones out instead of pulling them, Wadsworth's machine
can produce a
boneless fillet from a fish right out of the water, creating a fresher product and utilizing
more of the resource, he hopes. He's sold 90 cases of this season's fillets so far, and
"the word we're getting is that the product is beautiful, best thing they've ever seen,"
Yet despite the beautiful fillets produced by Wadsworths TBRS (Total
Removal System) and the other manufacturers, not every major player in the salmon
industry is rushing out to install machines. Bill Grabes of Tridents Seafoods
acknowledges that his company is interested in a pinbone-removing machine, but "we
haven't seen anything that's perfected enough for us to want to spend the money."
They're seeking a machine with speed, accuracy, and reliability.
Pinbone Wizard: Ray Wadsworth Goes to Market
by Kathleen Menke
On board the Wild Salmon with the Pinbone Wizard
For 10 years, Ray Wadworth kept a salmon skeleton in his dresser drawer,
reminder and study tool as he grappled with a problem that has cripples the
wild-salmon industry in recent years. As a salmon fisherman, he says, "I found I
wasn't able to make the kind of money fishing I was accustomed to making." With
boneless Chilean farm-raised coho salmo fillets available everywhere, Alaska's
salmon producers needed an affordabler way to pull out pinbones and compete with
Chile's cheap labor costs.
Wadsworth, who is also an inventor has become Alaska's champion in the
technological race to develop a pinbone-removal machine. This summer, Wadsworth
and his engineering and processing crew out of Sequim, Washington, plied Southeast
Alaska's waters from Haines to Sitka aboard their floating processor Wild Salmon,
cranking out the freshest, juiciest bonleless salmon fillets ever to sizzle on an outdoor
grill. Southeast Alaska locals have been snapping up the priced-right test packages
of keta (chum) and sockeye fillets, finding that fresh, boneless fillets are not only tasty
but also an efficient use of freezer space.
Known as the TBRS (Total Bone Removal System), Wadsworth's new machine
one of several competing pinbone-removal devices, but it's the only one that does the
job on fish that are fresh out of the water (see related article, page 54). removing
pinbones from fresh salmon without destroying the flesh was once deemed an
impossible task; the firm, fresh flesh would tear or the pinbones would break off
when they were pulled. Even now, other pinbone-removal systems require that the
fish be a few days old and soft, or frozen first and then thawed before the pinbones
can be pulled.
The secret in the Wadsworth process is in the cutting of the bones and
the leaving of
a narrow trench where pinbones and a small amount of flesh are removed. "If all
goes well, this fish will be sold to a niche market looking for a premium products,"
says Wadsworth, who is known affectionately to his friends and associates as the
The pinbone-removal machine is his latest challenge in a lifetime of
inventions dealing with fishing and boat-building. Born in Seldovia, Wadsworth
began fishing commercially with his family in Cook Inlet and Kachemak Bay. At an
early age, he invented fishing strategies and unique gear configurations to work the
spots that other fishermen avoided due to particularly harsh and challenging
Later he started Kodiak Marine Construction, a boat-building and fabrication
business now based in Sequim, where he fitted his seiner with a jet engine. The
seiner Order of Magnitude made the run between Seattle and Ketchikan in a mere
17 hours, achieving speeds of up to 50 miles per hour.
Wadsworth took his idea for a pinbone machine to the Alaska Science
Technology Foundation, which contributed $1.5 million. Wadsworth put up $3
million of his own money and in-kind contributions to develop, test, and refine the
prototype pinbone-removal system and to develop markets for the new product.
The foundation figures Wadsworth's invention shows promise for Alaska's fishing
Early problems that surfaced with the pinbone-removal machines were
and resolved, generally with minor but innovative adjustments done on the spot by
Wadsworth and co-inventor Ed Heater. While one of their pinbone-removal
machines was tested aboard the Wild Salmon, another operated in a shore-based
processing plant in Haines, Alaska.
"Haines fisherman Brian O'Riley heard about our efforts and suppliled
me with free
frozen fish to fillet all last winter for testing the machines," says Wadsworth. "Brian
took the initiative to attract the testing operation into an existing facility in Haines
where a cooperative arrangement was set up with a local roe-processing company,
Seapak, while Wild Alaska Salmon House, the new company formed especially to
market pinbone-out fillets, made and packaged their new product from the freshly
caught, highest-grade, primarily keta carcasses."
Wadsworth brought his own special personal touches to the organizational
the local fishermen in Haines who have been working hard the last several years to
develop their onshore processing facilities despite a shortage of capital and
experience in processing management. When the madness of the fast-paced fishing
season tended to put fishermen, tender operators, and processors into stressed
moods, Wadsworth would remind all that "there is a solution to all problems, and that
solution is sommunication. Seek first to understand, then to be unederstood."
Machines would get fixed. People would get shuffled. Several extremely independant
individuals and organizations pulled together in cooperation.
"A fresh keta makes the juiciest, tastiest salmon fillet," says Wadsworth.
doubting locals who usually snub a keta in favor of sockeye, king, or coho started
placing their orders after tasting a TBRS-produced chum fillet, marinated and fresh
off the grill.
"The machine is working incredibly well," says Wadsworth. "It's
bordering on being
unbelievable. To watch a whole fish go in and these beautiful fillets come out is quite
gratifying." With minor adjustments, the machine can be used on all species of
salmon, and even other kinds of fish. "With a small adaptation, it'll be able to do
cod," he says. One pinbone-removal machine can fillet and remove all the bones of
headed-and-gutted salmon at the rate of 24 fillets per minute.
The work aboard the Wild Salmon last summer was performed by a crew
of Wadsworth, his wife Jane, two sons, three daughters, significant others, and a
multitude of friends. The unbelievably cheerful processing crew operated much like
the well-oiled pinbone-removal machine itself. They were actually singing along with
opera music while being photographed for this article.
Trimmers swiftly touched up the boneless fillets as they exited the
machine sporting a narrow trough, like a pinstripe, along their length, which is pressed
closed when the fillet is turned over and smoothed. Any stray pinbones, of which
there are only a few here and there in one out of every 10 salmon or so, were hand
pulled with needle nose pliers by the trim line. At the end of the line, fillets that
passed inspection were slipped into vacuum-packaging bags, sealed, and placed into
a brine trough where they came out the other end thoroughly quick-frozen.
Another crew member placed the TBRS "No Bones" label on each fresh
vacuum-packed, frozen boneless fillet, weighed them, and packed them into 25
boxes. The boxes were labeled with the date and area of the catch, the name of the
fisherman who caught them, and the net weight of the fish, and were placed into the
cold-storage hold. At the end of the season, when the onboard printer was finally
working properly, a color photo of the fisherman who caught the fish was also
inserted into each box of fillets processed from that fisherman's specific catch.
A weeks worth of processing nearly filled the floating processor's 40,000-pound
when the fish were running strong. Six van-loads of TBRS salmon fillets were
shipped to cold storage in Seattle for delivery into the hands of test marketers for the
upcoming year. "There is a clear difference in quality between fresh Alaska salmon
and the farmed product," Wadsworth notes.
According to Laura Fleming, public relations director for the Alaska
Marketing Institue, automated systems such as this will help Alaska fishermen
compete with the farmed-salmon market. "An enourmous market is emerging for
boneless salmon fillets. Consumers want food that's quick to prepare, tasty, and
close to ready to eat, and they don't want bones. The machine's success would
enable a domestically processed product to compete with imported, boneless
Wadsworth patented his machine four years ago. If the project
the company must repay the Alaska Science and Technology Foundation for the
money it has invested in the project. The grant also requires Wadsworth to sell or
lease the machines exclusively in Alaska for three years after completion of testing.
Wadsworth speculates that the finished pinbone-removal machines will be leased
rather than sold. "For one thing, we can service the machines for the leaser and make
the necessary modifications as we evolve."
Wadswworth and his crew will be looking around and considering their
the best places in Alaska to continue their testing next fishing season.
Alaska Fisherman's JOURNAL
Ray's Way - In search of the perfect wild salmon fillet
by Bruce Buls
When RayWadsworth designed and built a machine that cut completely boneless
fillets from salmon, he thought he had done what needed to be done. After all, finding
a way to remove salmon pinbones mechanically had been the industry's Holy Grail for
Called the TBRS (total bone removal system) 50, his complex processing
was tested during the 1998 Alaska salmon season by American Seafoods, but Ray
wasn't happy with the way his machine was utilized. He was also underwhelmed by
the level of industry interest in his invention.
After that inaugural season Ray realized he would have to do more than
a machine that removes all bones, including the ever-allusive pinbones.
"We can't just build a machine," he said after that first season.
"We have to have a
whole sytem. The industry need to be led, not pushed. I think I can show how the
product should be done."
So in typical Wadsworthian fashion, Ray set out to do just that.
Having already been
a fisherman, boatbuilder, and designer/inventor-to name of few of his pursuits-Ray
took the next logical step and became a processor.
I told ASTF that we'd built a beautiful airplane," says Ray "but we need an airport."
ASTF is the Alaska Science and Technology Foundation, an Anchorage-based
not-profit that has invested about $1.5 million in TBRS technology.
Last winter, Ray and his son, Doug, found a 74 foot Navy-surplus landing
converted it into a floating salmon processor.
When they found the boat in California it didn't even have engines,
let alone all the
other stuff you need for a processing operation. That was Christmas time, and the
salmon season was only a few months away. But such impediments mean little to a
man who's made a career out of overcoming obstacles.
After surviving what he describes as "the worst ride of my life" up
the coast to Port
Angeles, Wash., in March (during the same storm that twice grounded the New
Carissa), Ray and his boatbuilding company, Kodiak Marine Construction finished
outfitting the newly named Wild Salmon with the necessary tanks, tables, machinery,
bunks and evertything else needed for a summer of processing salmon. They did the
whole job in two and a half months.
Along with the TBRS 50, they installed a Baader 417 header at the beginning
line. At the other end, they added vacuum-bagging and brine-freezing equipment.
Finished product was boxed and sent below to the cold storage.
Ray says his machine can process 24 fillets a minute. Each fillet
must also be trimmed
by hand to remove the bottom of the belly flap and individually inspected.
Although the machine had the capacity to handle 12 fish a minute, the
freezing and casing operation couldn't mainain that pace. Even so, the crew put up
about 150,000 pounds of frozen, boneless chum fillets last summer.
Ray himself worked onboard virtually all summer. After being away
once for a
week, he says he was relieved and gratified to return and find that fish had been going
through the line just fine without him.
It was a tight crew. Up to 20 people were squeezed aboard the
including Ray's wife, tow daughters, two sons, and a foster daughter. People slept
everywhere, even on the console in the pilothouse. As has often been the case with
him, it was a family affair. In fact, his father, Gene, and his son, Doug, are the official
owners of the Wild Alaska Seafood House, the company that owns the boat.
The boat and crew headed north from Washington on July 1 and arrived
Canal a week later.
Things got off to a rocky start when a tender delivering their first
load of fish ran
aground and sank. Ray says they ran down the canal and found the floating totes
with fish, which they recovered and processed.
"I knew then that we were going to have to work for them," Ray recalls.
They may have had to work for the fish, but they didn't have to pay
Processing primarily chums, they took fish that had already been stripped of eggs-fish
destined for dumping or the grinder. Even so, Ray insisted that fishermen deliver "fish
that you would send to you family and friends for Christmas."
Catching and handling fish to maintain premium quality before processing
is the first
step of the Wadsworth formula for the success of the Alaska salmon industry. The
second part is technology-his machine-and the third part is marketing.
"I realize we had to have numbers one and three after I developed the
Successful marketing relies on numbers one and two. It also means
fishermen along with the fish. Ray puts the name and a digitized photo of the
ressponsible fishermen on each box of fish. It's the Bruce Gore model, except the
fish are boneless and less expensive.
"Consumers recognize accountability," Ray says, adding that being identified
big impact on the fishermen, too. "They really began to go all out to produce nice
Producing affordable, boneless "nice fish" that will make Alaskans pround
Americans hungry for more is Ray's ultimate goal. If and when this happens, he
hopes the industry he knows and loves will survive.
"I told Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer that the industry can go two ways.
Either 90 percent get
out and 10 percent survive, or we raise the value so everyone can make a living.
"Fishing is like a paradise," Ray muses. "It's fun and it can
be prosperous. I'd kinda
like to see this thing survive for another generation."
Before his current crusade, Ray spent many years trying to organize
through the creation of the United Seiners Association. His dream of a marketing
cooperative like Sunkist oranges or Blue Diamond almonds didn't materialize, but
setbacks don't discourage Ray for long. He just finds another way to push the
Ray's lifelong contributions to the Alaska fishing industry are being
year by National Fisherman magazine, which has selected him as one of this year's
three "Highliners." The award will be presented during Fish Expo in November.
Spokan Wash/Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
Wednesday, Jan 12, 2000
Section D, Food Finds
With wild salmon season having ended a few months ago, all we've got are the farm-raised fish for the winter, right?
Not Necessarily. North Pacific Trading Co. distributes boneless, vacuum-packed fillets of wild Alaskan keta (chum) salmon--moderate in fat, and delicate in flavor--that are flash-frozen at sea for freshness.
So this winter, you don't have to buy the farmed.
Price: About $4.00 per pound (average weight 2 pounds).
Available: At area Rosauers, Yoke's and Super 1 stores.
The Wall Street Journal / Northwest
Wild Salmon Run Ahead in Taste Test
By Anne Reifenberg
In Seattle, the natioin's salmon capital, most people have had their fill of the interminable debate over how to restore at-risk runs. but they still have hearty appetites for the fish, which puts them in the thick of another Northwest polemic: What kind of salmon should end up on our plates?
To put the matter to the taste test, The Wall Street Jounal arrangedd for salmon experts to sample three typed-wild, hathery-raised and farmed. The results surprised even the parrrticipants.
Taste aside, many environmentalists argue in favor of the wild varieties, because if people eat and enjoy them, a consituency will build for saving those that are threatened and endangered. Commercial fishermen naturally agree with environmentalists, since it's good for their business, while some connoisseurs prefer undomesticated fish for their consistency and flavor.
But increasingly, the salmon we eat hails from hatheries and farms. And some say the domesticated fish industry is posed for enourmous growth. "It will totally displace the commercial fishery one day," says Dan Swecker, a Republican state senator from Rochester and president of the Olmpica-based Washington Fish Growers Association, which has 50 members.
What matters to most folks, however,is basic. "I don't care where it was born," says Donna Black, an artist who eats salmon in ine form or another at least once a week. "I care about how it tastes."
A Taste Test
So on to the Dahlia Lounge, a restaurant in Seattle, where chef Matt Costello, using just a bit of salt and olive oil, baked center cuts from three fish: a king from a hathery in British Columbia, a king from a farm in Washington and a wild king caught off the coast of Sitka, Alaska.
the six panelists-two commercial fishermen, a fisheries consultant, Amazon.com Inc.'s cookery editor, a Washington Fish and Wildlife commisioner and a conservationist-weren't told which cuts were which.
All agreed that one was superior: the wild king. "I was surprised that I like it so much better than the others," says Lisa Pelly, the commisioner.
few on the panel guessed that they had favored the wild one. Rebecca A Staffel, Amazon's cookery editor, says she didn't have a clue. "I knew what I liked best, but I had no idea whether it was born in captivity or out in the ocean."
The wild fillet, says Tim Stearns, the conservationist, was flakier than the others, "but the indidvidual parts retained their integrity. The farmed stuff just mushed in the mouth."
Eric JOrdan, who trolls for salmon in the waters off Alaska, says he was taken aback that he couldn't identify the type of fish simply by taste. "I was really surprised I couldn't tell the difference," he says. Since he has a trained eye for salmon, he made an effort not to look too closely at the samples during the tasting.
The other fisherman, Harold Thompson of Sitka, did look. "If you know fish, it's really easy to tell," he says. "But if you don't know you should always ask what you're being served, because there's a big difference." Adds John Foss, the consutant, "People who like steak aren't going to lik wild salmon as much, because it can tend to fall apart more." [more flaky]
What are the habitat differences among the three? Wild salmon live their entire lives outside of human control. Hathery salmo are conceived in captivity, sometimes of wild parents, and released when they are smolts, or juveniles mature enough to make the long and arduous trip to the Pacific Ocean. And farmed salmon are raised entirely in floating pens.
Dumb and Dangerous
Mr. Costello, like many chefs in the Northwest, doesn't serve fasrmed salmon. Fish reared in saltwater pens don't get a lot of exercise and so produce cuts that are mushier, he says, and less flavorful.
Greg Higgins, owner of Higgins Restauraunt in Portland, also shuns farmed salmon. While he does serve hathery raised fish, he prefers the wild version. Among his objections to hathery products: they come froma narrower gene pool."
IN fact some scientists contend that hathery fish are so much stupider than their wild cousings that they pose a danger to the species. Because of the trouble free environment in which they spend their early days, these scientists say, hathery salmon probably don't learn how to dig nests or elude bears or other predators. According to this argument, the wild salmon is the product of thousands of years of a survival-of-of-the-fittest winnowing, and it's risky to allow the domesticated to mingle with them.
It may be too late, though, to even continue quarreling, since hatheries have been around for more than 100 years. (Only recently, however, has the idea taken root that hatchery products might supplement runs in danger of extinction. The theory was first tested in pilot programs in the early 1990s. Most of those, sponsored by the U.S. fish and Wildlife Service, were conducted in the Snake River Basin in Idaho, where federal wildlife agencies first noticed the serious decline in fish runs. Officials say it's still to early to tell if those programs have succeeded.)
The farmed salmon debate isnewer, and livelier. Critics complain that farms damage the natural ecosystem by producting unnatural concentrations of wastes, disease and antibiotics. Another concern is that farmed fish that escape from their floating pens prey on the wild fish or breed with them and weaken the system.
Mr Higgins also worries that the existence of salmon farms will reduce public intererest in saving the wild salmon. "Having so many farms can easily lull people into thinking that they don't have to worry about the wild population, because there are all these replacement fish around," he says.
but so far, government regulators have come down on the side of the farmers. Last year, for example, environmental groupls challenged the issuance of Department of Ecology permits to two farms that raise Atlantic salmon. However, the Washington Pollution Control Hearings Board ruled that salmon farming in the Puget Sound region didn't seriously endanger native salmon or the environment.
Mr. Stearns, director of the Northwest office of the National Wildlife Federations says that with farms and hatcheries likely here to stay, salmon aficionados should probably just eat what they like- so long as they eat a lot of it. "We have a motto," he says. " 'Two in the river, one on the grill.' If people demand good salmon, theyll want to protect the salmon we have."
[As a side note from the webmaster, don't worry, Alaska's salmon are abundant, and in no danger, these past few years Alaska has set it's records for the most salmon recorded this century! You can examine this info at the "Alaska dept of Fish and Game"]
The six panelists graded each fillet by number, with 10 the highest mark. Though most couldn't guess which cut was which, they preferred the undomesticated [wild] salmon.
Wild-caught off the coast of Alaska
comments: beautiful color; melts in your mouth; mellow
Hatchery-supplied by the Wash. Fish and Wildlife Dept.
comments: fishy tasting: firm and sweet; too firm
Farmed-born and raised in a cage in Washington
comments: greasy; fishy but tender; watery
1999 Highliners Award
by Bruce Buls
They call him the Pinbone Wizard. While the name is a clever turn
on The Who's
"Pinball Wizard," it's also surprisingly apt. For one thing, he invented and built a
machine that others had been talking about for years: an automated pinbone remover.
His machine, the TBRS 50 (total bone-removal system) pulls headed and
salmon in one end and flips out boneless fillets from the other. That's boneless, as in
no backbone, no belly bones and no pinbones, the most elusive and problematic
bones of them all.
Creating a complex, sophisticated machine like that in a boatbuilding
shop on the
outskirts of Sequim, Wash., is clearly an act of wizardry.
But Ray Wadsworth also looks the part of a wizard. He's completely
bald, has a
bright twinkle in his eye and seems perpetually amused, or perhaps bemused.
The shop where the TBRS took shape has also seen the construction of
highly successful fiberglass fishing boats. Called Kodiak Marine Construction,
Wadsworth's boatbuilding business included the design and construction of Alaska'a
first twin-screw, shallow-draft seiners. Another famous Wadsworth project was the
construction of the Order of Magnitude, the worlds fastest seiner.
Back when herring openings lasted longer than a few hours, the fastest
boats had a
distinct advantage. Spotter pilots would locate a school of fish, and the race would
be on. Being a competitive sort, Wadsworth definitely wanted to be first on the fish.
So he designed and built a combination fiberglass and aluminum jet boat
with a gas
turbine engine. The Order of Magnitude topped out at over 40 knots. She also
burned 236 gallons per hour at full throttle.
Wadsworth bought the engine, but when he couldn't find a big enough
jet pump, he
built his own. (The pump now sits in the grass behind his shop, the boat having been
converted to conventioinal propulsion when herring dropped to $200 a ton.)
It's his sort of can-do attitude that has characterized Wadsworth's
entire career. He
credits his attitude and ability to growing up in a fishing family in Alaska.
Born and raised in Seldovia, the son of a fisherman (his father, Gene,
is something of
a legend in his own time), Wadsworth remembers that "if you needed it, you built it."
And if you had an idea to try something different, you built that. too. For example, he
says his dad was the first person that he knows of to put a water jet in a boat.
By the age of four, Wadsworth was a fixture aboard the Sea Scout, his
wooden boat. He's been fishing ever since. H's longlined, driftnetted, setnetted, and
seined for salmon and herring fromn Southeast to Kodiak and Togiak, where he still
During the halycon days of herring sac roe fishing he is reported to
have grossed $1
million a year.
But when markets collapsed, Wadsworth says, he went to one of the gear-group
leaders in Kodiak and asked him what he was doing to help raise the price. The
answer was, in effect, nothing.
"That winter," he says, "I decided that since nobody was doing anything, I would."
So he formed the United Seiners Association. "My dream was to
throw together a
large group of fishermen and form a cooperative like Sunkist [oranges] or Blue
Finding the independent attitude of fishermen frusterating, Wadsworth
focused on his
next goal: raising the value of Alaska salmon to more closely match their inherant
value. The strategy: bonelessness.
"The fish has to be boneless," he says. "The farmed fish market
American Seafoods tested his machine during the 1998 salmon season,
Wadsworth doesn't believe it was used properly. He was also underwhelmed with
interest from traditional salmon processors.
So, with more help from the Alaska Science and Technology Foundatioin,
invested about $1.5 million in the TBRS, he and his family set up their own floating
processor, the Wild Salmon. They spent last summer in Lynn Canal putting up about
150,000 pounds of boneless vacuum-bagged, brine frozen chums (Wadsworth
prefers to call them ketas).
The idea was to demonstrate the effectiveness of the machinery and the
feasibility of a
small operation that works very closely with fishermen delivering high quality fish.
Wadsworth says the survival of Alaska's slamon industry hangs in the
balance. "I told
Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer that the industry can go two ways: Either 90 percent get out and
10 percent survive, or we raise the value so everyone can make a living.
"Fishing is lke a paradise. It's fun, and it can be prosperous.
I'd kinda like to see this
thing survive for another generation."
PROCESS FISHERMEN COMPANY CONTACT IN THE NEWS