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Patagonia Saving Salmon By Drying and Eating Them

Words by Leon Kaye

Patagonia has rolled out a new snack that could help save the Pacific coast’s salmon population. For millennia, salmon has been integral to ecosystems from southern California to British Columbia and Alaska. But now some of the most stunning, and lucrative species of this incredible fish are endangered. The livelihood of many who depend on salmon to make a living is at risk, too.

In comes Patagonia, the outdoor apparel company that has long been a sustainable business leader. The organic cotton trailblazer and the fashion company nervy enough to tell its customers not to buy too much is now up to something fishy. The company will work with British Columbia conservationists to harvest carefully salmon species that are still relatively thriving while more threatened varieties are allowed to spawn.

Like countless fish around the world, salmon are over-harvested. The problem is compounded by the fact that various species of salmon often migrate together. Gillnet fisheries on large rivers use techniques that cannot discriminate between stable and endangered salmon, so threatened coho and steelhead salmon of all ages end up dying early while sockeye and pink salmon are caught and processed. Meanwhile industrial salmon farms often leech parasites, waste and chemicals that can harm wild salmon species. And that shiny farmed salmon, which may look good on the menu or layered in the supermarket blue polystyrene tray, may have been dyed pink to eliminate an otherwise queasy grey color.

So just as Patagonia started working with cotton farmers in the 1990s to improve the safety and quality of that industry, Patagonia is now taking a similar approach with Pacific salmon. The company is working with Skeena Wild to identify fisheries that use traditional fishing methods, tangle-tooth nets and beach seines. This more careful approach results in a higher quality salmon jerky product for Patagonia’s customers and allows species in danger to thrive. The processing plant in northern British Columbia is ISO 22000 certified and has a plan to eventually be a zero-waste operation. So, once again Patagonia goes beyond talking about sustainability and conservation: they are actively engaged in such efforts.

And if you want a more sustainable and healthy snack for those long hikes or camping trips, the salmon jerky comes in three flavors or you can go wild and buy a three-pack.

Leon Kaye, based in California, is a sustainability consultant and the editor of GreenGoPost.com. He also contributes to Guardian Sustainable Business and Inhabitat. You can follow him on Twitter.

Photo of sockeye salmon spawning in Alaska courtesy Wikipedia.

Leon Kaye headshotLeon Kaye

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

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