Buy wild salmon at Fisherman’s Wharf off Granville Island Sept. 29 and you can talk to the very person who caught it.
That personal connection with the fishing fleet based at the wharf is one of the goals of the inaugural SalmonFest at the Harbour, says the harbour manager of the False Creek Harbour Authority.
“And we want people to know they can buy salmon from fishermen right off the boats in the harbour,” Art Childs said. “It’s going to be all about the salmon and encouraging people to buy from wild stocks over farmed.”
The festival will be an opportunity to speak directly to the fishermen and women from the fleet and learn about the threats to wild stocks. Some fish and seafood available for sale at Fishermen’s Wharf is labelled with the date it was trapped or hooked as well as the name of the fisherman or woman who caught it.
“This will be a great time to talk with the guys about their products,” said Childs, who noted that while the sockeye salmon fishery on the Fraser River never opened this summer, the fish were in abundance further north.
The salmon are caught either by gill or seine nets, or by trawling, which involves lines and hooks hanging from a fishing boat. Childs noted there are about 70 fishing boats in the fleet at the harbour, but added because they’re set up for various fisheries they can be in and out at differing times. There is also a crab fishery ongoing, but Childs said so far it hasn’t been successful so whether the shellfish will be available for purchase during the festival is uncertain.
Childs wants SalmonFest to become as successful as the annual Spot Prawn Festival, which was launched six-years ago by the Chef’s Table Society of B.C. and now takes place each spring at Fishermen’s Wharf. The sixth annual Spot Prawn Festival took place this past May with live cooking demonstrations, tasting plates and entertainment. The festival’s popularity has raised awareness about the delicacy to the point that on the day the fishery opens each spring, prawn lovers line the dock anxious to make their purchases.
Donnie Sananin, president of the False Creek Harbour Authority and a fisherman for more than 40 years, says Vancouverites can purchase salmon the same way. As with the prawn festival, SalmonFest will offer cooking demonstrations, food available for purchase and entertainment.
“The whole thing is about creating value added for fishers,” said Sananin. “We want to raise awareness about the fact people can drop by the boats to buy fish.”
Sananin also wants the salmon lovers attending the festival to take away cooking tips. He said over-cooking salmon has been the kiss of death for many a meal.
“I always tell people, have everything else ready and on the table before you start cooking the fish,” said Sananin. “And then as soon as it starts to flake take it off the heat. It will be perfect and melt in your mouth every time.”
The inaugural SalmonFest at the Harbour takes place Sept. 29 from noon to 3 p.m. at Fishermen’s Wharf, which is adjacent to Granville Island. There will be no place to park at the harbour so participants are encouraged to walk, cycle or take transit to the festival.