Thanks to a partnership between Kodiak fish processors, the Coast Guard and SeaShare, 24,000 pounds of halibut were delivered on Monday to alleviate hunger in Alaska Native villages. The delivery was made using an HC-130J Coast Guard aircraft, which made stops in Nome and Kotzebue, providing 12,000 pounds of fish in each location.
SeaShare is a nonprofit organization founded in 1994 to help the seafood industry donate to hunger relief efforts in the U.S. In Kodiak, the organization partners with fish processors Ocean Beauty, North Pacific Seafood and Trident to donate bycatch that would have otherwise been wasted.
According to SeaShare Executive Director Jim Harmon, the nonprofit has been partnering with the Coast Guard for six years to deliver bycatch from Kodiak processors to remote villages in need.
From Nome and Kotzebue, the fish will be delivered to 16 other villages in need, and is enough to supply protein for up to 1,000 individuals in the coming months.
The idea for the partnership between Sea Share, the Coast Guard and the Kodiak fishing industry came about when Kodiak processors were struggling to find ways to get fish off the island, Harmon said.
“It takes some coordination effort but everybody seems very supportive of it,” Harmon said.
SeaShare establishes partnerships with Native Corporations to identify need, handle distribution and make sure that they are able to safely store the fish and use it for hunger relief.
In Nome, the fish is stored in a freezer owned by Norton Sound Seafood before it is delivered to villages in the region. In Kotzebue, however, there is no large freezer space available, so the fish is delivered immediately to nearby villages.
According to James Turner, plant manager at Ocean Beauty, SeaShare dictates where Kodiak’s bycatch is sent.
Turner said he has worked with SeaShare for many years. Due to the large amount of bycatch that Kodiak distributes, involving the Coast Guard became a necessity in order to get the fish off the island. The Coast Guard volunteers their time, resources and effort for the mission.
Kodiak’s food banks can only accept up to a few hundred pounds of fish due to limited freezer space. Turner said that SeaShare has already facilitated numerous smaller deliveries to Kodiak’s food bank at the Baptist Mission and the Brother Francis Shelter this year.