Fresh off the boat: Fishermen sell seafood hours after catch

Published on Thu, Jul 24, 2003 by Shanna Green

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Fresh off the boat: Fishermen sell seafood hours after catch

By Shanna Green

For people tired of buying seafood from the grocery store, fresh fish is just a phone call away. Depending on the season, local fishermen, Lee Bouma and Gary Dunster sell either fresh sockeye or king salmon and crab right off of their boats, just a few hours after catching them.

�It�s hard to find good meat anymore,� said Bouma who said that the seafood sold in grocery stores is not usually fresh or local.

Bouma, who has been fishing since 1966, said he and Dunster, a fisherman for 25 years, partnered three years ago in an attempt to keep their businesses going.

�If I can�t get out there, then maybe he can,� Dunster said. �More and more fishermen are doing what we�re doing to survive.�

Dunster said it is a mom and pop organization with only he and his wife fishing on their boat and Bouma working with his wife on another boat that make up the business.

During the past three years, Dunster said business had definitely grown mostly because of word of mouth advertising.

Bouma said the reason their list of customers is so long is because of the freshness of the fish.

�It�s impossible to buy it any fresher or more reasonable,� Bouma said.

The two finished selling crab a few weeks ago and are currently selling sockeye salmon. Crab season will not start again until October 1, and Dunster said they will probably begin to sell the crab a few weeks later when their supply can meet the demand.

Dunster said the fish weigh an average of six pounds and they sell them in rounds instead of dressing them. They keep the fish on ice until they are sold a few hours later, which Dunster says keeps them very fresh.

Last year, the price was $12 per fish, averaging out to about $2 a pound, an extremely good price according to Bouma who said that the same fish often sell for $6 to $7 a pound at grocery stores.

The price has yet to be set for this year, and Dunster said it could be the same, but it may change depending on the market.

Dunster said there are no set days or times when they sell the fish because they never know when the fisheries will be open, or if there will be a spot for them to sell from. Instead, Dunster and Bouma keep an ever-growing list of people who are interested in buying seafood, and call them to let them know when they will be taking their boats out and might have fish available. When they have fish for sale, Dunster said they also put up their hard to miss yellow signs around town, which feature a fisherman pointing the way to the fish.

Dunster said they are always taking new names of people interested in the seafood. To put your name on the list for fresh salmon or crab, call Gary Dunster at 332-8090 or Lee Bouma at 371-4063.