An Alaska adventure


Sean Murphy, SeafoodSource online editor

Published on
August 15, 2014

The third installment of the U.S. National Fisheries Institute’s 2014 Future Leaders program — a trip to Ketchikan, Alaska — has been the most eagerly awaited stop on the program so far.

I’ve been thrilled with the program’s other events, starting with Georgia and Florida in May, followed by our second session in Portland, Ore., in July. Both trips took me to parts of the country I’ve never really seen, and gave me and my 43 fellow classmates a rare inside look at the inner workings of the industry.

Arriving in the fishing town of Ketchikan, which is nestled on the coast a mere 100 miles or so from the northern Canadian border, you immediately notice the mountains that surround it. We don’t have mountains this big and majestic in Maine, but I found seeing them draped in evergreen trees gave the landscape a rustic feel that reminded me of home. I never get tired of looking at it, and I don’t think anyone else has the whole time we’ve been here.

We were treated to a morning presentation by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute before heading off to a tour of Trident Seafoods’ cannery. Trident is known for not talking to the media much about its accomplishments, so seeing how it puts this product together was a real treat.

Ketchikan is unique in that it has the highest concentration of native American totem poles in the world, and our guide showed us how they were made, what they mean, and how the art was nearly lost when missionaries to Alaska ordered the practice stopped centuries ago.

We rounded out the day with an Alaskan Lodge adventure and Seafeast. A tour boat took us into bays and inlets off Ketchikan to show us the local wildlife. It was a good reminder of how important the ocean is to the livelihoods of the local seafood industry. Then we stopped off at Silverking Lodge where we were treated to a low-country boil dinner. While this is normally a tradition in the Southern United States, the love of the boil in Alaska says something about how various industries and their workers migrate northward.

Overall, we’ve learned plenty from this trip, just as we have from the other two sessions, and we continue to be blown away by the majesty of Alaska’s unspoiled vistas. Truly a great session!

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