Sockeye salmon from Cook Inlet (Alaska, USA)

Facts & Figures

Sockeye salmon
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2014
Cook Inlet, Alaska (USA)
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“I love to come back every year!”

For his whole life, fisherman Brian Chase lives in Kasilof during salmon season, nowadays with his wife and two kids. Off-season he lives in Seattle and works for the American Coast Watch. A big change, but during the summer the whole family enjoys the beautiful and rough nature that Alaska has to offer. Brian loves cooking for his family and prefers to use an open flame. “Make sure that the salmon is cooked, but still juicy, and serve it with lemon juice, chopped garlic and a sprinkle of sea salt. Pure and natural - naturally delicious!”

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Great catch

The Chase family fishes in a sustainable way with floating gillnets. In the morning, they lay them out in the sea, with small open fishing boats. They use floaters to make the top of the net float, while the rest of the net sinks down to create a wall. When the salmon swims in the nets, they haul them in and take the salmon by hand.

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Between the end of June to mid-August the salmon swim by the coast of the peninsula Kenai on their way to the Kasilof-river. The state of Alaska closely monitors how many fish swim up the river to lay their eggs, and only if enough salmon pass, fishing is allowed. Otherwise the fisheries are temporarily closed. This way the Alaska government knows exactly how much salmon has reproduced, and how much can be caught whilst preserving the salmon stocks.

Seasonal work in Cook Inlet

In the bay of Cook Inlet, you’ll find the small village of Kasilof, surrounded by rough nature with tall pine trees and lakes with surfaces smooth as glass. Ever since the ‘90s, the Chase Family spent the summer on the coast of the Cook Inlet. They are one of many fishermen who fish for sockeye salmon from open fishing boats.

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The fishery in Cook Inlet was founded in the 1930s, when a Finnish emigrant started the company. In the following years the company’s owner often changed, and in 1993 Brian, Elizabeth, Aaron, Caleb and Hannah Chase became the owners. They gave new life to the company and work closely with the Alaskan government to make sure that salmon is caught in a sustainable way. Because there’s one thing that’s very important to the Chase fFamily, and that’s the environment.

Southern peninsula

Kasilof is on the Kenai-peninsula, an area in the south of Alaska that’s known for its rough and rich nature. Not many people live here: the population of the village is about 500-600 people. The peninsula is surrounded by Cook Inlet on one side and the Gulf of Alaska on the other side.

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Wild sockeye salmon

The sockeye salmon from Cook Inlet is an anadromous fish. This means that in summertime, the salmon swim upstream in the Kasilof-river to lay and fertilise eggs. That’s hard work! So before their trip, the fish fills its belly with plankton and little shrimps (that’s where they get that gorgeous deep red colour from). When the Chase family catches the fish, it’s at its fattiest - and bursting with flavour!