Kayla Desroches / KMXT
This morning, almost 15,000 pounds of frozen halibut took off from U.S. Coast Guard Base Kodiak on a C-130 aircraft.
It’s heading to Nome and Kotzebue as part of a donation through SeaShare.
The Seattle-based nonprofit has been organizing the operation locally for five years. They do similar projects nation-wide helping connect the fishing industry with good causes in need of seafood.
SeaShare Executive Director Jim Harmon says the organization puts bycatch to good use.
“Pollock’s our different fishery in the United States by far and when you’re hauling in a hundred ton … of pollock you might have a salmon in there or halibut, and nobody likes that, but we exist to try to do the best thing with a bad outcome, which is halibut and salmon bycatch.”
Ocean Beauty Seafoods is one of the local Kodiak processors donating bycatch. Plant Manager James Turner says it’s part of giving back to the community.
“It’s just the right thing to do. You don’t want to just throw that stuff away. This helps communities of Alaska, Washington, and Oregon, especially the outerlying areas of Alaska.”
There are a lot of possible reasons that people could use the donations. Harmon says stores of fish decrease in winter as people eat up the summer’s subsistence haul. And, with the melting sea ice, hunting for animals like walrus becomes more difficult.
Local partners in each location help SeaShare distribute the fish in their regions.
He says in Nome the Coast Guard will deliver the halibut to the Kawerak Corporation and Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation. The groups will store the fish until they can ship or fly them out to different areas.
He says, in Kotzebue, representatives from the Maniilaq Association will do the same.
If all goes according to plan, the whole operation should wrap up by the end of the day