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Sustainability in Seattle

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Approaching sunset at the Seatt... Approaching sunset at the Seattle Aquarium, with fresh oysters, salmon and tuna at the SSW Gala Traceability wo... Traceability workshop at the SSW Industry Lab at Ray’s Boathouse : Grilled Neah ... : Grilled Neah Bay Troll King Salmon, served at the SSW Industry Lab, courtesy of Ray’s Boathouse
E&E Foods attended Sustainable Seafood Week Seattle’s First Annual Gala and Industry Lab, celebrating sustainable seafood.

With a focus on local Northwest favorites (halibut, blackcod, oysters, and salmon), the food at both events was outstanding. Local Chefs pulled out the stops at the gala, our favorite being the king salmon mousse and deviled egg. Naturally, industry leaders were present and enjoying the fare, and there were many reps from distributors, processors, NGO’s and restaurants who flew in from the Bay Area and the East Coast in attendance. Even a few of E&E customers from across the country were there, and it was a pleasure hearing what they value in an event surrounding sustainability.

The Gala was mostly social, but the following day at the Future of Fish Industry Lab, chefs, processors, distributors, traceability specialists and sustainability experts gathered to discuss industry problems and solutions regarding seafood sustainability. Focusing on long term ocean health, panels and group discussions surrounding industry pain points from the boat to the plate were discussed in depth. It was a productive exercise just to get a vertically integrated seafood supply chain all around one table, with third party stakeholders present as well. All of us touch the same product, and build our business practices around moving and selling the same fish from the time it bites the hook to the time it gets pierced by a fork, but we rarely get to hear and understand the business focuses of each role of the supply chain. Including businesses at all levels of the seafood supply chain is a great first step toward full scale industry progress.

As a firm that earns its living from the sea, supporting industry sustainability efforts is an important part of what we do at E&E.
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Wild End to the Bristol Bay Season

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As the season drew to a close... As the season drew to a close, we found a pot of gold under this rainbow at Coffee Point
Our last blog was entitled, “Warm Rivers, Modest Runs, Small Fish.” Apparently, we spoke too soon—at least as far as Bristol Bay is concerned. The last day of the Port Moller test fishery, which measures the run headed to Bristol Bay (it usually takes about a week for the sockeye to make it to the rivers in the Bay), was July 10. By this time, the fish have historically dwindled to a trickle.

Not this year, though. In terms of numbers, it might even be possible to argue that the run started after the close of the Port Moller test fishery. Last year, after the July 10th termination of the test fishery, they fished until July 17, resulting in about 3.4 million additional fish or about 12% of the total catch of about 28 million. So far this year, they were still fishing as of the 21st, with almost 18 million having been caught AFTER the test fishery concluded, or about 53% of the total catch of 34 million so far. In other words, more than half of the fish caught in Bristol Bay occurred after the fishery is usually straggling to a close AND the total catch is bigger this year. Wow!

One data point highlights this: On July 17, 2014, the last day of fishing last year, 101,000 fish were caught; on July 17, 2015, the number was 1,661,000—16x greater! Yikes!

The downside of this late run is that some of the fishermen had already left and some of the plants were already winding down operations. However, because E&E’s plants are on the Egegik and Ugashik Rivers (see prior blog) where there is a more consistent stream of fish, we were ready, and the plant kicked into high gear, running pretty much round the clock. Way to go Team Coffee Point! Rumor has it the season ran so late that snow is in the forecast!
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Warm Rivers, Modest Runs, Small Fish

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Alaska is always beautiful, eve... Alaska is always beautiful, even when it is barren.

It is just more barren than it should be at this time of year.
Normally there is much more... Normally there is much more water from the melting snowpack. The fish are small, but when ... The fish are small, but when carefully handled,

they are beautiful and our customers love what they get.
While the Alaskan sockeye fish run is in full swing, some interesting—and alarming—aspects of this season make it one of the more unusual ones on record.

The first issue is that many of the rivers, and not just in Alaska, are at levels lower than they have been in a number of years. The lack of snowpack in the mountains is a major reason for the lower volume of river water, leading to higher water temperature and negatively impacting how the fish migrate back to their spawning grounds. Ideal water temperatures for salmon migration are in the 12⁰-14⁰ C range, and some of the rivers have been measured 17⁰+; 20⁰ +/- is usually fatal, but even before reaching such a high level, the fish become distressed and more susceptible to disease and other breakdowns.

A second issue, which is harder to fully understand, is the small size of the fish. It appears to be a repeat of last year’s Bristol Bay problem, only this year it appears to have spread across the region. Whether it is due to a lack of food, excessive competition for the food that is there, or some other factor is unclear, but the reality is that the entire industry will see many of the same 2/4 size fish that was the defining feature of just the Bristol Bay fishery last year.

The third issue is that the runs in Bristol Bay, Prince William Sound and Southeast have been underwhelming. The Cook Inlet fishery hasn’t started in earnest, so it is too soon to tell how that will turn out, but there is concern among the industry that these smaller fish could make up nearly 70% of the run, versus the historical range of 40-45%.

At E&E, we are attempting to deal with these issues in ways that maintain the high level of service our customers expect of us.

Our Bristol Bay fisheries on the Egegik and Ugashik Rivers are less prone to the concentrated runs seen in other parts of the Bay, so our fish are likely to have experienced less stress. That’s a better fish for you.

Recognizing the trend towards smaller fish, a number of our retailers are “downsizing” their portion sizes and embracing the smaller fish as a way to appeal to changing demographics.

The smaller runs are a curse and a blessing: they should create some upward momentum on prices, which could help the industry in general. But next to a glut of low cost farmed salmon on the market, it is unclear how much pricing power there is.

One thing is sure: producers like E&E that have a history of care in handling the fish from catch to shipment, are in a great position to add value in the marketplace.
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Pacific Star Kick-off BBQ

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A great meal to start off the s... A great meal to start off the season in beautiful, downtown PacStar! Chef Brian doing fine work pro... Chef Brian doing fine work providing not only traditional burgers, but tasty salmon as well. Plant Manager, Steve Lee and ... Plant Manager, Steve Lee and his daughter. Tab Goto talking with the Gran... Tab Goto talking with the Grannums, a family of set netters that fish for us. Employees chillin' at the BBQ. Employees chillin' at the BBQ. Part of the crew that makes P... Part of the crew that makes PacStar go (left to right): Todd Nispel, Fishermen's Services; Tina Vargas, Housekeeping; Laz Veloz, Expediter & Winter Watchman; Hayden Lohman, Accounts Payable Steve Lee said this was a pict... Steve Lee said this was a picture of John Benton, one of our drift netters, picking a card to win a prize, but rumor has it that Steve said, "GO FISH!" every time someone picked a card!
Pacific Star Seafoods, Inc. (PSSI), is E&E Foods' largest processing facility in Alaska, with two plants that sit near the mouth of the Kenai River on Cook Inlet. In full production it can handle about 800,000 lbs. of whole round fish a day. It provides extensive services to set- and drift-netters. Every year it holds a BBQ for employees and fishermen to kick off the summer season and this year's was held last week.
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Coffee Point Plant Up and Running

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Coffee Point is located on Brist... Coffee Point is located on Bristol Bay on the western side of the Alaskan Peninsula Coffee Point is a prominence i... Coffee Point is a prominence in Egegik Bay. The King Salmon River is at the top right; the Egegik River is at center-right. Our plant is north up the beach. The plant manages to move a l... The plant manages to move a lot of sockeye in a short amount of time. Note the "runway" at the bottom of the screen. It doubles as a beach! An offload into a Coastal Air pl... An offload into a Coastal Air plane. This process is repeated multiple times a day until our fish is on its way to customers. Coastal's Pat Shryock makes it all happen! Those are 50# boxes of wild A... Those are 50# boxes of wild Alaskan salmon being hand loaded into the plane.
E&E has a number of Alaskan shore-based plants and our Bristol Bay plant is Coffee Point Seafoods of Washington. Coffee Point is a cape on Egegik Bay, on the western side of the Alaskan Peninsula. The bay marks the confluence of the Egegik and King Salmon Rivers.

Most of the sockeye processed at this plant comes from beach set netters, and because the plant is right on the beach, very little time passes between the fish being caught and headed-and-gutted (H&G). This results in a higher quality fish, as time spent unprocessed is an enemy of freshness.

The final point that makes this plant unique is that the H&G fish are flown off the beach by Coastal Air. As a result, the fish quickly make their way to Anchorage, where they are flown fresh to destination all across the United States. Ask your E&E rep how you can acquire this fresh sockeye.
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Yakutat Frozen Halibut

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Greg Indreland, General Manag... Greg Indreland, General Manager and co-owner of the Yakutat plant and his son, Henry, fishing for halibut. Our own Don Gallup, doing a r... Our own Don Gallup, doing a reprise of the famous headless fisherman label E&E uses on its sockeye. Notice the beautiful pristine bellies of this frozen halibut. Open bellies show the freshne... Open bellies show the freshness of the halibut. Our frozen halibut is trimmed ... Our frozen halibut is trimmed and toted.
Among the fish that E&E Foods sells across the country is our Yakutat halibut and our first frozen shipment is now in Seattle in the 40/60 and 60/80 size. Many of the halibut at our Yakutat plant are caught and iced on day boats taking short trips out into the Gulf of Alaska, resulting in the superior quality that makes it such a hit with our customers. If the halibut doesn't head south in its fresh form on Alaska Airlines, it goes right to the freezer to maintain its high quality.
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E&E Foods Goes to the Movies

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Publicity poster for the movie,... Publicity poster for the movie, "The Breach", that was screened at the Seattle Art Museum.
Friday, May 15th, some of the E&E Team attended a screening of the documentary film “The Breach,” an emotional account of the plight of wild salmon on the West Coast. http://www.thebreachfilm.com/

While the film highlights the majesty and power of our current sustainable runs of salmon in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, it does illustrate how much more robust certain historical runs were before the West became heavily populated by humans.

Mark Titus, the film maker, calls for action to ensure that the mistakes of our past don’t continue into the future, and that we preserve the robust fisheries we are fortunate to have year after year. He highlights the Bristol Bay sockeye fishery as a gem worth a priceless amount that should fall at risk to mining in its headwaters; why jeopardize the earths greatest resource of wild food? Titus calls for salmon lovers to “Eat Wild to Save Wild,” providing a full circle support mechanism for the livelihoods of commercial fisherman and the vitality of the resource they (and we) depend on.

As those in attendance dined on E&E Foods' very own Bristol Bay sockeye from our Coffee Point plant (salmon ceviche courtesy of the Taste SAM Restaurant, it was dynamite), we celebrated wild salmon and its future with Seattle area chefs, seafood industry professionals and commercial fishermen preparing for the season. It was inspiring to see much of the Seattle seafood community so interested and supportive of salmon, so thanks to BBRSDA for inviting us and to Mr. Titus for producing such a masterpiece!
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Sockeye Available Year-Round

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Copper River, home to the yea... Copper River, home to the year's first sockeye run. Freezer cases look great with... Freezer cases look great with our wild, Alaskan sockeye in them. A beautiful, vacuum-packed, 12... A beautiful, vacuum-packed, 12 oz. sockeye fillet
As hard as it is to believe, the 2015 fresh, wild sockeye salmon season kicks off late next week with the internationally famous Copper River sockeye salmon run. The first opener is on May 14th and lasts for twelve hours. Based on last year’s prices, it is likely to be selling at the wholesale level around $13.00/lb. You read that right, $13.00/lb.!

However, it will still be at least 4-6 weeks before this year’s sockeye pipeline will start filling up since the major Alaskan runs don’t start until mid-June. E&E’s wholesale and retail customers are taking advantage of the year-end lull to replenish their inventory with attractively priced wild, frozen Alaskan sockeye.

One of our biggest hits is an under 1 lb. fillet that both retailers and consumers love because of the great price point and less wasted food (though we can’t understand how anyone would ever waste Alaskan salmon). Let us know how we can fill your freezers with this great product.


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Giving Back to the Community

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L to R - Randy Patrick, John ... L to R - Randy Patrick, John Garner, Tab Goto, Jim Harmon Top Donor Award plate Top Donor Award plate At E&E Foods and Seattle Shr... At E&E Foods and Seattle Shrimp what would you expect? Salmon spiced with Ras el Hanout and shrimp with chermoula! Employees enjoying the food Employees enjoying the food SeaShare Executive Director, J... SeaShare Executive Director, Jim Harmon
SeaShare is a non-profit with a fishy mission—it fosters partnerships between government agencies, seafood companies, and food banks in a shared effort to produce food for hunger relief. E&E Foods, its affiliated companies and employees have supported SeaShare and its mission by donating money, product and processing services. See a posting on SeaShares’ blog about our interaction with this great organization.
https://www.seashare.org/blog/2015/seashare-partner-highlight-e-e-foods
This week, SeaShare Board Member, John Garner, and Executive Director, Jim Harmon, paid a visit to E&E Foods’ offices to award us with one of their “Top Donor of the Year Awards”.
Not only were we honored by the industry’s foremost not-for-profit provider of healthy seafood to the nation’s food banks, our own gang of expert chefs including Pamela Houle and Todd Byers, along with cast of other food preparers and “cleaner uppers” prepared a delicious lunch in honor of our guests.
We encourage our customers to check out what SeaShare does by taking a look at their web page and their video—donating to this great cause is easy, too! https://www.seashare.org/
https://www.seashare.org/blog/2015/e-e-foods-receives-top-donor-award
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Chilean Farm Trip Highlights

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As we have seen recently, Chi... As we have seen recently, Chile is a beautiful land of volcanoes. Osorno and Calbuco are shown here. Calbuco recently erupted.
One of our major supplier's i... One of our major supplier's indoor fresh water facilities. The facility recycles 50% of its water, and these systems have an egg to sea success rate of 70% vs. 40-50% in open water. Sea farms are large and comp... Sea farms are large and complex operations, yet are run remarkably efficently. Our supplier has live waiting ... Our supplier has live waiting cages, unusual in Chile, which allow the fish to calm down after being transported. Calmed fish gape less and maintain freshness longer. An example of the freshness of... An example of the freshness of the Chilean Atlantic salmon produced at this plant. Randy with his very first caug... Randy with his very first caught farmed salmon! No doubt his fishing buddies will never let this veteran, wild angler live it down!
Randy Patrick, co-owner and Josh Watts, Atlantic Category Manager, recently spent a week in Chile, visiting with a number of our farmed Atlantic suppliers. E&E is a major importer from Chile and supplier to the US retail market, and periodic due diligence trips to ensure our suppliers are maintaining high production standards is part of our responsibility to our customers. This is a blog where "a picture is worth a thousand words."
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