Two weeks ago today 3 of our fishers headed out to Surrey River to kick off our annual Arctic char harvest and today they came home after reaching 99.8% of the quota. Our quota is set by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and I send them reports daily of our loads. Our lead fisher for Surrey was Jack and his two partners were Brent and Nathan.
Our fish is flown into Cambridge Bay via a puddle jumper as the fish camps are too far from town and time is precious when you are dealing with fresh wild Arctic char. Stephane and I usually head out to the camps during the harvest but this year we just couldn't get out to Surrey.
So here's how it works in a nutshell. Our fishers call us when they have a load of fish, usually anywhere between 1000 - 1500lbs of gutted char. From there Stephane is on the phone with the pilot to arrange a pick up that day, actually within hours. From there I am arranging shipping with our customers and informing First Air that we will have a shipment.
Once the Arctic char is picked up, one of our fishers will call us on the satellite phone and we get ready to head down to the float docks to pick up the fish. We bring it back to the plant, weigh & record it and do a final cleaning before it is either boxed fresh or frozen in our blast freezer.
From the fishers, to the pilot, to our plant staff, to the management, to First Air Cargo we work like a fine oiled piece of machinery to get this fish out to our customers. Once I think about it, it's amazing how the logistics work and sometimes I have to sit back and just imagine someone sitting down the following day enjoying a fine dinner of wild Arctic char. All of us take much pride in what we do and it shows in how we handle the fish.
We have about three weeks where we will process as much as possible into char jerky, cold smoke, candy, fillets, steaks and then we are back at it again doing 3 river systems one right after another.
Most of the Arctic char from this river system was shipped to San Francisco, Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary, Yellowknife or parts of Nunavut. Cleanfish in the United States purchases many of our fresh fish for high end restaurants or fish markets. From the time our fishers catch the fish and when our customers receive it, we are talking the following day or within 48 hours, depending on the distance. So if you are at a fancy restaurant and you see Truly Wild Arctic Char ask where they receive it as it could be ours, not too many fisheries harvest and process wild Arctic char.
The plane that brings in our char
Unloading the plane
Donna - Superwoman
Carol and Donna carrying about 100lbs of char
Lined up and ready for the truck
Annie showing how big these fish are
Carol and Meyok hauling the fish while Annie supervises
Carol and Little Annie
Weighing & recording the char
All hands on deck
Doing the final cleaning
Shelley showing off a big one
Douglas and Donna sorting the char
Hanging the char after the final cleaning
Alice and Annie showing off the beautiful and yummy fish
Ready to head to First Air Cargo