Hitting the Trail with MoJo Coastwalk

Photo Credit: Beth Schlanker, Press Democrat

Photo Credit: Beth Schlanker, Press Democrat

Coastwalkers Morgan Visalli and Jocelyn Enevoldsen have built their lives and their friendship on a shared love of the sea. These ladies live and breathe all things ocean, and have collectively worked on many ocean issues—kelp forest research, fisheries management, marine mammal conservation, wetland restoration, and environmental education just to name a few! These “sea sistas” met in Santa Barbara and bonded over their obsessive love for the beach, surfing, scuba diving, swimming, kayaking… any and all things ocean.

These two are no strangers to Salty Girl Seafood. We all met in graduate school while working toward our Master’s degrees at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management. After graduating from the Bren School and spending a year working on ocean policy issues for government agencies, “Mo and Jo” traded in their computer screens for sunscreen and hit the beach—for 96 days!

These Salty Girls hiked the entire length of the California coastline in an effort to raise awareness about coastal conservation and public access to California’s beaches, which belong to all of us. For 1,200 sandy miles on the California Coastal Trail, these long distance hikers fueled-up on Salty Girl Seafood, staying energized with sustainable protein.

What is the California Coastal Trail and why is it important?

Always within sight, sound or smell of the Pacific Ocean, the California Coastal Trail is a public path that stretches along California’s stunning coastline from Oregon to Mexico. Right now the trail is about halfway complete. The dream is to connect the fragmented segments of coastal trail into a braided network of public walking and biking paths spanning 1,200 miles down the entire coast! When complete, the CCT will pass through every coastal community in California, connecting us with a physical path, and also uniting us in a shared vision of coastal protection, stewardship, and access.

California Coastal Trail markers are signed throughout the trail.

California Coastal Trail markers are signed throughout the trail.

We fell in love with the CCT because it connects us to the ocean and to each other as people of the sea. We decided to thru-hike the trail to help raise awareness about the CCT and jumpstart a movement to get the trail completed. Our adventure MoJo Coastwalk was born—part thru-hike, part outreach campaign, and part mapping initiative to help future hikers on the CCT.

On May 1st, 2016 we began our thru-hike at the Oregon border. Each day we walked about 12 miles of coastline, while also filming a short video series, taking photos, posting on social media, recording our route with GPS devices, taking meticulous trail notes, hosting outreach events, and meeting with reporters. We were busy to say the least, but it was the most rewarding work ever! Inspired by mama ocean and energized by the amazing people we met along the trail, we made it to the Mexico border 96 days later on August 4th.

As marine conservationists, we loved spreading the message of coastal stewardship along the way. It is up to all of us to protect and care for the coast and ocean. There are so many ways to be a coastal steward, and we integrate coastal stewardship into our daily lives by cutting down on disposable plastic use, picking up trash on the beach, and eating seafood that is sustainably harvested.

That is why we were SO STOKED to have lots of smoked Salty Girl Seafood on the trail. Lightweight, delicious, and packed with protein, it was the perfect thing to keep us fueled down the coast. Our go-to trail lunch was smoked albacore or salmon with crackers, avocado, and cucumber. One sunny day in Sonoma we delighted in a Salty Girl lunch at Salt Point State Park. Supa salty!

Smoked Albacore with crackers, avocado and cucumber on the trail!

Smoked Albacore with crackers, avocado and cucumber on the trail!

What was the best (and worst) part of your nomadic journey down the coast?

Our days along the CCT were full of beach walking and tidepooling, whales breaching at sunset and elk grazing at sunrise. Walking allowed us to slow down and appreciate the big and the small, from the vast, breathtaking coastal scenery, to the tiny shells and wildflowers at our feet. We felt rejuvenated by mother earth, and challenged by her, too. It wasn’t all sunshine and whales! It was also rain and poison oak, blisters and wind, being lost and tired and sore. We had to bushwhack through thickets of prickly thistle, thorny blackberry, and stinging nettle, while sliding down muddy mountain slopes.

And because the CCT is not fully complete, we hit fences and “No Trespassing” signs, were routed along dangerous stretches of highway, and were forced to skirt around rocky points at low tides. Most of our days were dictated by the tides, as many stretches of beach are impassable when the water is high. So through it all, we lived by the moons and the tides; getting in sync with the simplest rhythms in life. It was pure bliss.

MoJo Coastwalk

What does being a Salty Girl mean to you?

Being a Salty Girl is being connected with the ocean. We’re at home here. We feel wild and free when we’re submersed in the cool, salty sea. We love sharing this sacred space with dolphins and whales and all ocean creatures. We are fish women. We can fully be ourselves in the ocean.

There is a sense of timelessness when you look out to sea, turn your back on land and civilization, and realize that you’re connected with all living things. You can look out to the horizon and imagine yourself there one thousand years earlier, seeing the same view, feeling the same breeze. Being a Salty Girl is about a deep love for this connection.

But it’s also something more. It’s about standing up for the ocean. It’s about recognizing that the ocean is a fragile ecosystem threatened by development, pollution, overfishing, and climate change. It’s about working together to heal and protect the planet so that all beings can survive and thrive. It’s about dedicating ourselves to small daily actions of coastal stewardship, and inspiring others to do the same.

Being a Salty Girl is also about lifting up our fellow Salty Girls, and celebrating their work on behalf of the oceans. We are so proud to tell people about Salty Girl Seafood and so proud of our awesome friends for making sustainable seafood accessible, delicious, and fun!

Connect with MoJo Coastwalk on instagram or facebook.

MoJo Coastwalk

Why It’s Time to Reinvent the Fish Stick

In the age of disruptive food brands and overhauled ingredient lists that feature real, whole foods, finding convenient ways to get healthy fish protein into kids (and adults, for that matter) without breadings and added sugars has long remained a mystery. Sure, we’ve seen fish sticks ‘made over’ in the aisles of natural foods stores to incorporate gluten-free batters and breadings, but none have gone so far as to reinvent the basis of the same fish stick we’ve seen in frozen food aisles for the past 60 years. Until now.

But, do kids even like fish? Will they eat it if it isn’t a battered, fried conduit for ketchup?

For the past year, we’ve stood in the aisles of natural foods stores all over California, serving up samples of our fillets of wild Alaskan coho salmon, seasoned with lemon pepper and garlic - a healthy, sustainably sourced, and simple-to-cook option for people looking to incorporate more fish into their diets. We would often hear, “is this fish wild?” and “where does it come from?” to which we would respond “yes, it’s wild-caught Alaskan salmon” and “on the side of the package you can see exactly where and how your fish was caught!”

Now, those two questions we expected, as we knew that many shoppers are concerned about both of those pieces of information when it comes to buying fish (as we are ourselves!), and we put that information right on our packaging exactly for that reason. But here is what we didn’t expect - that just about every mom or dad pushing a shopping cart with a young child (or two) alongside them to remark, “Oh salmon! My kids LOVE salmon!” and happily share their sample with their kid, much to both parent and kid’s delight.

 

Light bulb.

So why, we asked ourselves, are there no healthy, convenient salmon products on the market for kids (and adults) that are as dippable and delicious as the fish stick that has been on dinner plates since the 1950s? And why isn’t anyone using “fish sticks” (or some form of them) as a conduit not just for tartar sauce and ketchup, but for educating kids about where their seafood comes from? It’s about time that changed.

 

As a team of female entrepreneurs who came together to drive change in an outdated seafood industry and to improve access to sustainable and traceable seafood, we knew this product was right down the heart of the plate for us. We got to work quickly, and through a collaborative effort with moms across the country, developed Salmon Bites for Kids - bite-sized finger foods packed with omega 3s, healthy protein, and hidden veggies that as it turns out, kids love to eat. Combining wild-caught Alaskan salmon, broccoli, and sweet potato makes a naturally gluten and dairy free, non-GMO, snack with no added sugars that fills kids up with clean ingredients that parents can’t get enough of. Not to mention, they’re as easy to toss in the oven as chicken nuggets, and adults love them too.

Salty Girl Seafood Salmon Bites for Kids

Salty Girl Seafood Salmon Bites for Kids

What’s more, all of the fish in our Salmon Bites is sourced with the same sustainability and traceability standards our company has become known for and that you, as a consumer, deserve. That means that we tell you where and how your fish was caught right on the box, providing a great way to educate our youngest consumers about where their seafood comes from. No more mystery fish. Half the number of ingredients of standard fish sticks. And all of the benefits of teaching your kids about where their food comes from.

We believe this is just the beginning of disrupting this age-old category and with new, fun ways of getting healthy fish protein and omega-3s into kids.

It’s high time we started our kids off on the right foot with high quality seafood where the value-add actually serves to fuel their growing bodies and brains. And with a healthy start to their seafood experience and an early connection to where their food comes from, we’re launching a generation of American kids who will not only eat more fish, but feel empowered to make good decisions about where they get it!

Salmon Bites for Kids will hit shelves this July! Check out our Where to Buy page for more information about where to find Salty Girl Seafood and sign up for our newsletter to be the first to know when we are coming to a store near you!

Salty Girl of the Month: Corey Wheeler Forrest, Rhode Island Fisherman

 

Since we launched Salty Girl Seafood, one of the first things that people say is how much they love the name. Often we are asked, what does it mean to be a Salty Girl?  

salty: of the sea, sailing or life at sea.

This is a series of blogs honoring our kindred Salty Girls--women whose lives and livelihoods revolve around all things ocean.

 

meet Corey wheeler Forrest, a Rhode Island fisherman.

Our Salty Girl for the month, Corey Wheeler Forrest, holds a particularly special place in my heart -- she and I were born and raised in the same small town in New England -- Little Compton, RI. I remember seeing Corey and her family working their trap site from the deck of my own family’s boats as we headed out for the day, or mending their gear in their big grassy field on the way to check the surf.  As a third generation fisherman, Corey’s connection to the sea is in her blood; a tradition she began passing on to her two kids from the time they were babies. Her family’s unique style of fishing has been around for ages but their sites are some of the few still operating this incredibly passive and sustainable way of catching fish. Even though Corey must balance a lot of roles every day (fisherman, mother, daughter, wife, business owner), the grounding and sense of self that she derives from the sea and this way of life is unmistakable. We hope you are as inspired by Corey’s story as much as we are, and be sure to check out her beautiful and entertaining Instagram account @fishandforrest.

Tell us a little about yourself and your business.

I'm a married, mother of two, third generation commercial trap fisherman. I fish and handle/sell all the fish for my family's two floating fish trap companies and my brother's day-boat. "Trapping" is a unique fishery to Rhode Island, only a few of us still fish this way and it's been around for hundreds of years. It's a really cool, sustainable and passive fishery.  We are licensed to set in the same spots every year off the coast of Little Compton and Newport.  If the fish come to us we catch them, if they don't, we don't. The floating fish traps are like a giant Aquarium, held in place by 26 500-900 lb anchors, where fish are funneled into the "head" of the trap where they can't escape. Everything is alive so anything we can't keep is thrown right back into the water to swim away. It's really labor and equipment intensive, which is probably why not too many people still do this. As my dad says, "if it were easy, everyone would do it."

Who first got you hooked on the sea?

My family. I think it's just embedded in me. Growing up there were fishy work clothes hanging in the hall, a beat up pick-up truck in the driveway, fishing gear in the back yard. We didn't have a swing set, we made forts out of lobster pots. Our conversations always revolved around working the sea, and it still does.

What does a "normal" day in your life look like?  

I'm up by 4am. Coffee, sunscreen, organize myself. I check my emails and texts. It's pretty normal to already have texts from my buyers at the Fulton Fish Market. I'm at the dock around 5:30 am. We leave the dock at 6am, haul 1 to 3 traps (some years we've set more traps), we're usually back at the dock 9-11am where we sort, ice, box and ship fish. My brother hops on his 42 foot gillnetter as soon as we get in and hauls his sets. So I handle all his fish as well. I sell to wholesale markets from Toronto to South Carolina. The Fulton Fish Market gets the fish that night and I've heard stories about my fish still being alive in the box. I'm usually home by 4pm but I also have state required fish reports that I do at home. It's all-consuming mentally and physically and it's definitely hard to find balance at home this time of year. It's gotten easier as the kids, Finn 14 and Isley 10, have gotten older, and more independent; it's a team effort with my husband for sure (he's not in the fishing industry). When they were young I brought them to work with me. While they were babies and nursing, I took a few years off from being on the boat and just handled the dockside of things. I had every baby carrier they made! I look back and I don't know how I did it.  

 
"While they were babies and nursing, I took a few years off from being on the boat and just handled the dockside of things. I had every baby carrier they made! I look back and I don't know how I did it. " - Corey Forrest

"While they were babies and nursing, I took a few years off from being on the boat and just handled the dockside of things. I had every baby carrier they made! I look back and I don't know how I did it. " - Corey Forrest

 

What has been the greatest lesson you've learned from the ocean and what lessons do you want your daughter to learn from the ocean?

We are all EQUAL on the ocean and the ocean does not discriminate...

The ocean can be welcoming and serene, unpredictable and exploding, poetic and playful, and also break and crush you. (James Joyce called the sea "scrotumtightening")! The ocean doesn't give a SHIT about your gender,  how tough you think you are, where you come from, your college degree, family name, socioeconomic class, what God you worship, where you shop or the kind of car you drive. The ocean is a powerful teacher when you realize you are not in control; you get to know yourself pretty well - mind, body, heart, and soul when you are  simply existing, adapting, and keeping afloat.

 I nearly got crushed falling overboard between two boats on a big seas day... it happened about 20 years ago; it plays slow motion in my mind though it was probably seconds before I was hauled back onboard by a dozen hands. Our Captain at the time (who undoubtedly had doubts about a woman being onboard), legendary trap fisherman and the famous "kissing sailor",  George Mendonsa, said to me, "did your boots fill up with water?...[yes]  NOW you're a real fisherman."

 
 

Who has been an inspiration to you in your life and why?

Definitely my dad. He just turned 70, looks 40 and acts 14. His enthusiasm and passion for everything is contagious and borderline manic. And I definitely couldn't do what I do without him. He pushes me, makes me laugh, infuriates me and often has more confidence in me than I do in myself.  

 
"[My dad] pushes me, makes me laugh, infuriates me and often has more confidence in me than I do in myself." - Corey Forrest 

"[My dad] pushes me, makes me laugh, infuriates me and often has more confidence in me than I do in myself." - Corey Forrest 

 

When you close your eyes and think about your favorite time on the water, what do you see? 

Weirdly, my favorite time on the water is probably when I've been the most scared: falling overboard or a squall with hurricane force winds, bolts of lightning. Being enveloped and feeling absolutely helpless and insignificant in all her strength and beauty is really humbling and puts things into perspective.  

What does being a Salty Girl mean to you?  

Feeling the pull of the sea and never being able to stay away, like being homesick.

 
 

Favorite sea quote?  

It's very hard to choose but : "Fish," he said softly, aloud, "I'll stay with you until I am dead." Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea.

Is there a Salty Girl in your life? Email us to share her story with us and nominate her as a monthly Salty Girl!