Producer Spotlight: Lummi Island Wild

Meet some of the Lummi Island Wild team: Riley Starks, Keith Carpenter, and Ian Kirouac

At Acme, we love partnering with producers who are as mission-driven as we are. It is truly our honor to partner with Lummi Island Wild as a seafood supplier. We must admit—we are a bit starstruck partnering with such a stellar local supplier that has been featured by Patagonia Provisions, HuffPost, Food & Wine, The Seattle Times, and many more media outlets for their commitment to sustainable and ecologically sound fishing practices.

Lummi Island Wild’s mission is “to promote the respectful and responsible harvesting of wild salmon while protecting the environment for future generations of fish and people.” One of the primary ways Lummi Island Wild achieves this mission is through reefnet fishing—a fishing technique used by the Coast Salish tribes indigenous to the Salish Sea surrounding the San Juan Islands for hundreds of years.

About the Reefnet Method

Once practiced throughout the Salish Sea by its many indigenous fishing communities, reefnet fishing now only happens off Lummi Island, three other San Juans Islands, off of Cherry Point through a cooperative effort between Lummi Nation tribal members and Lummi Island Wild.

Here’s how reefnetting works: salmon follow along an artificial reef and over a small net suspended between two platforms. Spotters, standing on 20- foot towers, watch for a school of salmon to swim over the net. When the spotters make the call, the net is raised and the live fish are rolled over the side of the platform at the waterline (so no harm is done to them) and into a netted live well open to the flowing seawater. Here they are allowed to rest, releasing any lactic acid that may have built up in their flesh.

Lummi Island Wild spotters watching from their 20 foot towers for salmon to swim over the reefnets.

Fishermen sort through the live well to release any unwanted bycatch unharmed back into the sea. The kept salmon are then individually bled into an adjacent bleed well, and then into a tote filled with slush ice. The release of lactic acid and blood here results in the high quality and clean taste of Lummi Island Wild’s catch.

The batteries that run the motors Lummi Island Wild uses to raise their reefnets are solar powered—using no fossil fuels. Each of Lummi Island Wild’s reefnet gear are anchored to the sea floor in the same spot year after year, allowing for the smallest carbon footprint of any salmon fishery.

The reefnet method offers so many benefits, but one of the most important is that it allows individual selection of all fish caught—meaning the fisherman individually sort each fish, releasing unharmed all fish they are not targeting or fish that are protected species. This helps protect the area being fished from unnecessary ecological disruption.

See reefnet fishing in action in Lummi Island Wild’s “A Day in the Life” video below:

Look for Lummi Island Wild’s Nicoise Salad with Smoked Salmon in our upcoming meal kits! Purchasing these meal kits is a great way to support Lummi Island Wild and many more local producers near you.

To learn more about Lummi Island Wild and reefnet fishing, we recommend the following resources:

Patagonia Provisions – The Gift of Reef Netting

HuffPost – The True North of Sustainable Fishing, ReefNet Style

Salish Center for Sustainable Fishing Methods

Lummi Island Wild website

Lummi Island Wild Facebook and Instagram

With love,
-Your Acme Team