Jon Ochoa , August 14, 2023
My week out on the Bering Sea 🌊
Earlier this month I had a bucket list item checked off. I was able to sail the “Deadliest Catch” waters of the Bering Sea off of the coast of Alaska. My day job is that of the Marketing & Membership Services Manager for the Association of Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers. But, growing up in the heart of Washington State, I had never had the chance to actually go out on a boat that catches the very fish that I work to build demand for in my job. So, this blog is about my experience on my first trip on one of our member company’s boats getting some “hands-on” experience in what it takes to bring Wild Alaska Pollock to the plates of consumers around the world.
Embarking on the Global Seas' F/V Defender sailing through the Alaskan waters was a whirlwind of an experience. Immersed in the heart of the Wild Alaska Pollock fishing industry, I had the remarkable chance to witness it up close and personal.
The crew aboard the Defender welcomed me with open arms, creating an atmosphere that felt more like a close-knit family than colleagues. There's something reassuring about being on the water for the first time, guided by the seasoned hands of Captain Gary and First Mate Pat. My time on the boat wasn't just about learning the ropes or capturing content for the upcoming Association of Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers’ marketing campaign we are affectionately referring to as the “People of Wild Alaska Pollock”; it was a journey into the soul of the industry. From sharing laughs with Brent, a fisherman on the boat, about his unique biological makeup that somehow allows for absolutely no body odor (fact checked by the way) to heartfelt conversations with Captain Gary about the boat and its deeper meaning, every moment was an insight into lives intertwined with the sea.
While the first fishing run posed challenges with fewer fish than expected, the crew's dedication shone through. Determined to ensure a successful trip, we ventured 450 miles northwest of Dutch Harbor in pursuit of Wild Alaska Pollock. It was a testament to their unwavering spirit and expertise. Onboard camaraderie was more than just teamwork – it was friendship. Crew members weren't just colleagues; they were like an extended family supporting one another through thick and thin. When you spend months together on the open sea, that bond becomes vital.
Alec, another one of the fishermen and, in fact, my bunk mate, had a story that ended up leaving a big mark on me. His child's belief that he's a “superhero for feeding the world” encapsulated the essence of their work. Such moments highlighted the profound impact of the industry on families and communities worldwide. This firsthand experience transformed my perspective on the seafood industry. Learning from the crew about everything from fishery intricacies to daily routines that keep the ship afloat was an education unmatched by any textbook. I discovered that sustainability is at the core of their mission – from aggressively minimizing incidental catch of other precious resources in the sea when we were on a mission to find Alaska Pollock to alerting fellow fishermen about potential dangers, they're committed to responsible fishing.
And then there was the food – oh, the food! Andy, fisherman and chef extraordinaire, whipped up dishes that left my taste buds dancing. Even cooking up some Wild Alaska Pollock that reminded me just how good it is as the main star of a dish.
In a nutshell, this journey was a revelation. If the opportunity ever arises to sail these waters and delve into the seafood industry, don't hesitate. It's a chance to not only learn where your food comes from, but to gain a newfound respect for those who make it all happen.
Until the next adventure.