Over 70 years ago, a group of halibut fishermen realized that the best way to ensure that their products were delivered with quality from ocean to market was to process their own fish instead of depending on the services of agents and distributors. They formed what would become North America’s oldest and most successful fishermen’s cooperative.
Today over 575 quality-oriented fishermen belong to Seafood Producers Cooperative and roam the waters of the North Pacific catching fish by hook and line methods.
What started in 1944 as a cooperative to provide halibut liver oil to vitamin companies has now become a full-fledged organization that provides premium-quality seafood to high-end food service and retail industries around the world.
Halibut liver oil, high in Vitamin A, was a staple in the days when the fishermen’s co-op started. We still eat fish for health but now we better appreciate its good taste.
The History of Our Fishermen’s Co-op is one of perseverance in the face of bad weather, natural disasters, fluctuations in tastes, and onslaughts of inferior farmed fish. One of the most difficult moments in the cooperative’s history was March 27th, 1964, the day that a tsunami caused by one of the biggest earthquakes in history wiped out the co-op’s plant in Seward, Alaska. Not a shred of it remained. The co-op didn’t have earthquake insurance and it took years to recover financially and emotionally from the disaster. Fishermen lost returns from their catches and it took a group of legendary fishermen co-op members to keep the cooperative dream alive. This group of fishermen decided to build SPC’s current plant in Sitka, Alaska, which was completed in 1981.
Francis Caldwell, author of a number of natural history books and legend of our fishermen’s co-op.
The plant is impeccably clean, well managed, and is a beacon of pride. At the end of the day, our fishermen members join to the co-op so that their fish can reach a wider market than if they were working alone. Whether you’re having a salmon lunch in Seattle, or sashimi-grade albacore at a sushi restaurant in San Francisco, or maybe some fresh halibut at a specialties store in Brooklyn, or enjoying some miso-marinated black cod in a business lunch in Hong Kong, it’s possible your fish was caught by a Seafood Producers Cooperative member on a 48-foot somewhere off the coast of Southeast Alaska.
This sign stands outside of the SPC plant in Sitka. A proud reminder of the co-op’s history.