The name ‘sockeye’ is thought to have come from the tribal word ‘sukkai’, for ‘red fish,’ which is the color these salmon change to when spawning. Sockeye salmon are also known as blueback (in regards to their coloring for most of their lives, pictured above) or summer sockeye (when they are most plentiful). As a species of fish that is anadromous, sockeye salmon are born in freshwater rivers and lakes, they then migrate to saltwater in the open ocean. At the end of their life, they migrate back to the freshwater where they were born, to spawn.
As one of Alaska’s most important industries, policies for all species of salmon are extensively managed by field-based, biological research and analysis. Since the 1970’s, fishery management practices have been put in place to make harvesting all stocks of salmon sustainable, supporting tens of thousands of jobs for the state as well as significant economic activity.
One of the sources of our sockeye salmon is from the fishery located in Yakutat, Alaska. This small town is located in the south- eastern, coastal area of the state, facing the Gulf of Alaska. In this small town, with a population of about 700 people, the majority of the inhabitants are involved in the commercial salmon fishery, mainly for sockeye. Fishermen use gillnet and seines primarily, though a small hydraulic longline can also be used, a version of hook and line, sometimes referred to as a “hook boat.” The largest sockeye salmon fishery, Bristol Bay, is located northwest of Yukatat. Located farther south along the coast is Sitka, Alaska, another source for our salmon.
Of all the Pacific salmon, sockeye is second in fat content only to the chinook, or king salmon, and has beautiful, bright orange-red meat. It is a smaller fish compared to the chinook, many times coming in less than ten pounds, and the meat is firm, rich and flavorful.
As one of the fastest fish in the ocean, wahoo are long, beautifully striped fish, dark steel blue along their back, fading to a silvery-blue belly with vertical iridescent lines along their torso. Their large mouths are filled with compact, finely serrated triangular teeth, a characteristic that compliments their impressive speed when hunting. They mainly feed on fish such as herring, frigate mackerel, and butterfish, but also squid. Much of the commercial catch of wahoo comes from the Pacific, mainly Hawaii, though much of our supply is caught right here off the east coast, many times the coast of New Jersey. Wahoo is generally a bycatch of longlining boats, out to catch swordfish and tuna. They usually swim alone or in small, loose packs of a few fish, but rarely in large schools.
Wahoo populations have the ability to mature into spawning adults and reproduce rapidly (about 1 year), much like mahi-mahi populations. Recreational and commercial catches involve proper permitting and harvest limits, though there are no formal stock assessments for the species because their populations are believed to be so high. Wahoo continues to thrive within these management boundaries, a well-balanced relationship between fish and fishermen.
Pictured here is Frederico on our production team, unloading a recent fresh delivery of wahoo from southern New Jersey.
A close relative of king mackerel, the meat of wahoo is lighter in color and milder in flavor, with a large, circular flake. Wahoo is also known by its Hawaiian name "ono," meaning good to eat, or delicious. It cooks up white and is great baked or grilled, also very popularly used in fish tacos.
The Atlantic wreckfish resembles a grouper or bass, and inhabits deep waters of the Eastern Seaboard’s continental shelf, as well as other waters internationally. Though they can be found from the Grand Banks to Argentina, most commercial landings are from the Charleston Bump, located about 90 miles southeast of Charleston, South Carolina. The Charlston bump is a series of overhangs, cliffs, dropoffs and caves that allow wreckfish to hide while hunting for fish exploring the dark, cool waters just outside the Gulf Stream. A cloudy, reflective layer behind their eyes allows them to be super-sensitive to light, able to ambush prey who can’t see as well in the depths of dark water (up to 3,300 feet).
The U.S. wreckfish fishery is possibly the most sustainable fishery in the world. There are less than 10 boats with commercial wreckfish licenses, and each boat is issued a specific quota for the entire year. Fisherman are limited to using bandit rigs, which are large hydraulic reels that send a vertical cable line and multiple baited circle hooks nearly 1,500 feet to the bottom. This creates a very selective method of fishing that results in nearly zero environmental impact or bycatch. Wreckfish also have no known predators.
Most wreckfish are between 20 and 60 pounds, but can reach weights of well over 200 pounds. This average large size helps create thick, meaty fillets and impressive portions. The meat of wreckfish is much like grouper -- firm, white, and mild with large flakes. The cold, deep water they live in also imparts a clean, slightly sweet taste to the fillet.