“St. Good Tuna Boat tells the story of the Seattle Fishermen’s Station

“St. Good Tuna Boat tells the story of the Seattle Fishermen’s Station

It’s Monday afternoon The Fishermen’s Station in Ballard is relatively empty. A man pulls into the parking lot in a pickup truck and makes his way over speed bumps to the water’s edge, where he stops next to a ruined-looking boat. After jumping on deck and exchanging a few words and some cash with the boat’s all-Fijian crew, he gingerly packed a whole frozen albacore tuna into a Styrofoam container, placed it in his trunk, and slid away.

The deal has an air of secrecy. But it’s not one. the St. Jude The albacore has been fished in the Pacific Ocean for 35 years, and the owners, Joe and Joyce Malley, have been selling their catch from the boat on and off since 1999. When you think of classic Seattle seafood, your mind doesn’t necessarily go to tuna. . But a story St. Jude It’s one way Seattle is connected to fisheries from Alaska to the South Pacific, and how those fisheries have evolved over half a century.

In 1978, Joe Maley was a doctoral student in mathematics at the University of Oregon when he was invited to spend a few days fishing for salmon in Alaska during winter break. When he returned, his academic career was over. “I took everything I had, borrowed all the money I could, bought a boat and a license, and I’ve never driven a boat that didn’t have an outboard motor in the back,” Maley says.

Over the next 15 years, Maley caught salmon, halibut and black cod. But he found himself constantly frustrated by the changing policies of regulatory agencies, by the dangers of a one-day season opener, when boats have a short window to produce their annual catch, regardless of weather conditions, and by the static of the industry. They struggle to sustain themselves without destroying the biomass they depend on.

Albacore fishing, on the other hand, is considered “great fishing.” When you longline bottom fish, or trawl, you end up with a lot of redundant bycatch. Not so with young albacore St. Jude Next, they live near the surface in a very specific temperature belt of 58 to 68 degrees Celsius. “It’s like sport fishing,” Maley says. “Basically, you’re trolling with a bait on the surface, and the fish comes up, grabs the bait, pulls it with your hand, bleeds it, and it grows in its brainstem.”

The individual albacore fish — each between two and three feet long — are then delivered to the onboard freezer, where they remain for the duration of the voyage. There is an artistic element to the whole process. Albacore fish must be handled with extreme care before freezing, otherwise you risk bruising it.

One tuna trip can take a long time St. Jude Anywhere from the coasts of Washington and British Columbia to Japan to the South Pacific, for up to three months at a time. It’s not for everyone. Increasingly, Maley discovered that Americans were not cut out for long-haul flights, even though the work was lucrative. “They want to get on the boat, make a lot of money, wash the boat, walk away, and go buy a Camaro.”

That’s why the crew St. Judeincluding hunting master, Paul Rykeev, Entire Fiji. Mali says the Fijian crew is paid the same as local crews, receiving shares of each trip’s catch, plus a portion of what they sell at the dock. But tuna boats’ reliance on international crews is also complicated by migration policies and treaties. While the St. Jude‘s that day at Fishermen’s Terminal, he was welcome to board the boat and inspect the albacore he was buying, the actual crew members were not legally allowed to get off to dry land.

Malleys typically solve this problem by docking in Canada and flying their crew home from Vancouver. But in 2023, that wasn’t legally possible either, so St. Jude Doing things the old way. After selling most of its tuna at the fisherman’s station, the boat headed to Bellingham to drop off the rest at a cannery, then set out across the Salish Sea, beyond the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and into the open ocean, a 29-minute journey. Today’s run to Fiji.

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