As a cooperative, the whole is better than the sum of the parts- each fisherman benefits from the stability gained by working with a co-op.
Seafood Producers Cooperative is owned by over 575 members who fish the waters of the North Pacific. Each member is a small boat hook and line fisherman and owner of the cooperative, and therefore receives the benefits of ownership.
Seafood Producers Cooperative serves families of small boat fishermen and the health of coastal communities by combining two alternative business models—the small family fishing boat and the cooperative. Our cooperative was founded to serve fishermen by getting the fairest price for their catch and giving them access to processing and packaging that they wouldn’t be able to achieve working on their own.
When you get fish from a fishermen’s co-op, you get the fish from a fisherman. With the co-op, you’ll know we will consistently have product available and that we have consistent quality standards. If the co-op has a good year, the fishermen, who are our shareholders, are the ones who benefit. Fishermen get the fairest price when they deliver to the co-op.
It is very rare that fishermen can concentrate both on fishing and on selling their product, and do both jobs well. Working with a co-op that processes, packages and sells the fish, allows members to share the costs and maximize the dollars that end up in the fisherman’s pocket. A co-op also maximizes returns on fishermen’s catches vs. what they’d make on their own.
What started in 1944 as a cooperative to provide halibut liver oil to vitamin companies has now become a full-fledged organization that provides premium-quality seafood to high-end food service and retail industries around the world.
The co-op’s main processing plant is in Sitka, Alaska, although it has outports in other parts of Southeast Alaska, Washington and Northern California. The co-op’s business offices are in Bellingham, Washington.
Of the co-op’s members, 397 call Alaska home, and 216 of these have Sitka as their mailing address. Another 100 members winter in Washington while about 75 do so in Northern California. Some members winter in places as far away as Vermont and Florida. Many of our members fish with family, either as husband-wife teams, and/or with their children. Others hire deck hands while a number of our members fish alone, enjoying the special connection they have with the ocean.
SPC has 10 employees in its Bellingham sales office and 15 employees at its processing plant in Sitka, where it also hires a number of seasonal workers.