Fishing for halibut is a tough, dangerous job, but we’re glad someone’s willing to do it. Every year, skippers go out on the open sea of the frigid Bering Strait in their 30-foot vessels, laying miles of line with thousands of hooks along the ocean floor.
These are family run businesses, often handed down from generation to generation. As children of halibut fishers grow up, they often join their parents on the high seas, crewing on the boats for several years until the parents retire.
Cold, Wet, Dangerous
Their life and work are cold and dangerous. When each boat’s complement leaves port in the early hours of the morning, it’s often so cold that even saltwater has formed into icicles all around them on the watercraft. As they prepare the hooks along miles of longline to send them to lie near the ocean floor, every crewmember must be cautious that they not be hooked themselves. The lines move quickly, and just one poorly placed arm or leg would ensure certain death before anyone could rescue the person sent overboard.
After laying out the longlines, the crewmembers receive a short respite before it’s time to see what they’ve caught. As the reelers bring in the lines, they drag halibut from deep below the surface to alongside the boat, where the crew must then take over and bring each fish aboard, measuring to make sure it’s large enough, and then quickly preparing each halibut before it experiences too much stress. Within just a few moments of coming aboard, the halibut has been slaughtered and dressed, so all that’s left is the skin and meat. Now it’s ready for freezing.
Ocean To Table
Despite the hardship, these hard workers do what they do so you can enjoy the fruit – or rather the fish – of their labor. Join us in celebrating these families and their businesses, and give them thanks the proper way: by eating their halibut!