Seattle fish tales

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We went to Seattle this month to celebrate the connection between Alaska salmon and the Pacific Northwest.

Amy Gulick, Vicki Clark and Tom Douglas celebrate all things salmon.
Amy Gulick, Vicki Clark, and chef Tom Douglas prepping to tell some fish stories.

We kicked off our visit by joining forces with the Tom Douglas Seattle Restaurant Group in holding a “Fish-on! Fillet to Plate” cooking demo and tasting event at the Hot Stove Society. 

The “No Pebble mine” stickers around Seattle made us feel right at home, and so did the crew and guests, who packed the room and robustly engaged with chef Tom Douglas, author and photographer Amy Gulick, and our executive director, Vicki Clark. 

What we learned in our short Seattle stay is that many of our neighbors to the south understand the importance of protecting Alaska salmon and natural places. 

Salmon, three ways

During the “Fish-on!” gathering, we shared stories about how Bristol Bay residents and groups, along with the majority of Alaskans, continue to fight to protect salmon and Bristol Bay. We talked, too, about our role as an Alaska-based, Alaska-focused public interest law firm protecting Bristol Bay.

The no Pebble mine signs made us feel at home.
Seen in the staff room at the Tom Douglas Rub with Love factory.

Meanwhile, we learned from Tom Douglas, a long-time advocate of wild Bristol Bay salmon, about how to use all parts of the fish, including the delicious parts people miss, and whip up fillets in three ways—steamed, smoked and grilled. 

Between bites, Douglas talked about how he and his team support Bristol Bay by prioritizing sustainable fish in their restaurants and supporting opposition to the proposed Pebble mine—including his help in producing the latest Mark Titus film, The Wild—a documentary with a call to action to protect what you love.  

The Salmon Way

We also heard from Gulick, whose book of photo-stories, “The Salmon Way,” explores the relationship between Alaskans and fish. She reminded folks that the Pacific Northwest lost its fisheries to hubris, greed, industrialization, and shortsighted political expediency, and that we know better now, and we should do better, too.

In her five years working on the book and spending time with commercial and sport fisher folks, elders and youth, and at fish camps and on boats, she found out what salmon really mean to people. 

“It’s about family and community,” she said. “Salmon really bring people together.”

People gather at the Fish On! Fillet to plate cooking demo at the Hot Stove Society in Seattle.
Salmon bringing people together.

True enough, for we gathered around salmon at the Hot Stove, and again a few days later at a Trustees board member’s house for a party with donors and supporters. The Tom Douglas crew catered that event, too. Everyone savored their bites of fish with savory rubs and spices, for sure, but they stayed for the stories. 

To save the salmon way, we must fight for it—and that means gathering, talking, changing, acting, and walking the talk of saving what we love. 

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