Salty Girl of the Month: Heather Sears, Princess Seafoods

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.

Imagine a spending the day on a gray, glassy ocean, seabirds careening overhead, working alongside some of your best girl friends to land beautiful fish after beautiful fish. For this month’s Salty Girl, Heather Sears, this scene is all in a day’s work. Of course, for every scene like this there’s a few more that are plagued with heavy seas and snotty weather, busted gear, and no fish in sight. But at the end of the day, it’s the rawness and unpredictability that keeps her fishing seven months of every year.

Heather Sears, F/V Princess

Heather Sears, F/V Princess

Heather runs her boat, the F/V Princess, with an all female crew out of Fort Bragg, CA.  We first learned of Heather from our friend, fishing legend Jeremiah O’Brien, captain of the F/V Aguero, the boat where Heather first began her life as a fisherman when she was just 10 years old fishing alongside her dad. Heather epitomizes all of the things we love about those who make their living on the ocean--strong, independent, hard-working--and couples these traits with the business and tech savvy to market herself and her fish in a way that connects everyone more closely to the ocean.

An all women seafood company and and all women fishing vessel seemed too good to be true. We’re beyond excited to announce that we are buying wild Alaska coho salmon from Heather and her crew. Look for the story of the F/V Princess on our Coho Salmon with Lemon Pepper & Garlic, and in our newest product, Wild Alaska Salmon Bites for Kids. Here’s to Salty Girls all over the world working together advance the health of our oceans! Check out our interview with Heather (HS), below.

SG: What do you love most about the ocean?
HS: I have a real love/hate relationship with the ocean. The ambivalence comes from too many days at sea, year after year in a boat just a little too small for the fisheries imposed on her.  It's almost like being in an abusive relationship with an utterly entrancing but volatile partner.  One trip will be just hellish. Being thrown around for days, not catching, equipment breaking, tired, bruised and scared.  And the next trip could be the exact opposite. Sparkly calm seas, hungry fish, breathtaking displays of beauty, nearly surreal in intensity. There is always the nagging feeling of complete dependence on your machinery for your very life. Without it you are dead in very short order. I keep coming back though. The ocean affords me a rare and precious lifestyle. One which I get to be part of the food chain, a top predator chasing a challenging prey, working by the seasons not by the calendar, not by the time card but the wind. Chasing a prey, the king of salmon, that I have the deepest respect and admiration for. A wonder that hasn't waned since I watched my dad pull the first one over the rail when I was ten. Could there be a thing more beautiful than a gleaming silver purple salmon. I might love them the most.

SG: Who first got you hooked on the sea?
HS: I started commercial fishing at ten years old with my father on our family's 48 foot Aguero out of Morro Bay. That first summer, fishing off Bodega Bay I saw a leatherback turtle surface that was as big as the stern. I saw the full moon above the Golden Gate Bridge throw a shadow on us as we passed under. At night I laid awake in my rolling bunk, a stones throw from the south Farallon island and listened to a million shrimp clicking below me, a million sea birds screaming above. I worked side by side with my dad during a hot king salmon bite in pea soup fog and dad told me my work was important, I was feeding people. I was hooked.

SG: When you’re not on the ocean, what are you doing?
HS: As my friends Joel and Tele put it with their boat, I am repaying the Princess for her service.  It seems like the hours of maintenance are endless. But shoreside efforts lead to better a night’s sleep when you’re drifting around offshore.    

SG: When you close your eyes and think about your favorite time on the water, what do you see?
HS: Anytime the magical trio occurs: flat ocean, no boats, a fish on every hook. It doesn't get much better.

SG: What do you never leave home without?
HS: My salty fish dogs Julie and Chloe. They are schipperkes, bred for boats, and have fished full time for the last 7 years. They are tough, surefooted and sassy little hounds that make me laugh everyday.

SG: What does a healthy ocean look like to you?
HS: A healthy ocean looks different in different places and at different times of year. But it always looks like a myriad of beautiful and terrifying creatures eating each other and being eaten.   

SG: What do you think people can do to most benefit the ocean and its ecosystems?
HS: Some "easy" things I suggest to people include:

  • Support US fisheries. Ask for wild domestic caught seafood at the fish counter and in restaurants. We (US commercial fishermen) don't get nearly enough credit in the media for our science-based and very conservative fisheries management. Though flawed, our system is still one of the best in the entire world. Still, 90 percent of our seafood is imported, and most of that fish is farmed or caught in the wild in countries with much less regulation than us. That's why it's so cheap. The oceans are paying the price.
  • Cut down on disposable plastic use.

  • Vote for politicians who support dam removal and fresh water policies that consider our struggling salmon populations.  Californians can check out groups like Restore the Delta, Golden Gate Salmon Association and IFR.

Salty Girl Seafood Introduces Salmon Bites for Kids at 2017 Expo West Show; Nominated for two NEXTY Awards

Salty Girl Seafood Salmon Bites for Kids

Salty Girl Seafood Salmon Bites for Kids

Santa Barbara, California, February 24, 2017 – Salty Girl Seafood, makers of sustainable, traceable, ready-to-cook seafood, are introducing their first item developed specifically with kids in mind – Salmon Bites for Kids – at Natural Products Expo West this March, Booth H933. Packed with omega 3’s and hidden veggies, these bite-sized finger foods are the first wild-caught salmon, breading-free product for kids of all ages. The product has been chosen as a finalist in two categories for a prestigious NEXTY Award, an internationally recognized award given to companies with the most innovative natural products.

Made with wild-caught Alaskan salmon, broccoli, and sweet potato, Salty Girl Seafood’s Salmon Bites for Kids are naturally gluten and dairy free, non-GMO, with no added sugars, and no added artificial colors or flavors. They provide a healthy source of protein (12g per serving) and omega-3s.

“This is an exciting addition to our product line,” said co-founder Norah Eddy. “After hearing parents express frustration over a lack of healthy, easy seafood options that taste great for their family, we rose to the challenge. These Salmon Bites are also sourced with the same sustainability and traceability standards our company has become known for, and providing that traceability information right on the box is a great way to educate our youngest consumers about where their seafood comes from.”

From more than 720 nominations, Salty Girl Seafood Salmon Bites for Kids, was chosen as one of the three finalists in the “Best New Natural Kids Product” category and one of four finalists in the “Best New Mission-Based Product” category for the NEXTY Awards. All finalist products will be showcased at Natural Products Expo West at the Anaheim Convention Center March 8-12, North America’s leading natural, organic and healthy products trade show.

About Salty Girl Seafood

Salty Girl Seafood, Inc. is a sustainable seafood company founded in 2014 that develops sustainable, traceable, simple to prepare seafood products that incentivize sustainable fishing practices and promote stewardship of oceans. For more information on Salty Girl Seafood and where to find products in stores nationwide, please visit the Salty Girl Seafood website or join their community on Facebook and Instagram.

Contact: Gina Auriemma, Marketing
gina@saltygirlseafood.com

Salty Girl of the Month: Anna Neumann, Reef Check California

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.

Like so many great Salty Girl stories, this month’s Salty Girl attributes her love of the ocean to her family. After spending countless summers sharing the joys of the ocean surrounded by family and friends, Anna Neumann pursued her passion for the sea as a student of Oceanography and Scientific Diver at Humboldt State University. Her dive skills soon brought her to Mexico where she became a dive instructor and, of course, took full advantage of the good life down south! Today, Anna combines her dive skills and passion for the ocean as a regional manager for Reef Check California, the largest statewide citizen-scientist monitoring program for California’s marine protected areas (MPA) and nearshore rocky reef ecosystems. Anna works with people from all walks of life to teach them how to collect the necessary data to inform the science that protects our reefs and nearshore environment. The ocean is at the center of it all for this Salty Girl, and we’re inspired to see her sharing all that the ocean has to offer with those around her.

SG: What do you love most about the ocean?

AN: I love everything about the ocean. I love the dichotomy of it, how forceful and dynamic it can be pushing me mentally, physically and emotionally and at the same time be captivating, soft and healing. I love the moment when I first submerge and everything goes quiet, then I tune into the environment and I can start to hear the little clicks and taps. And as I settle into my dive all the stress that plagues life on the surface falls away. I also love how the ocean brings together the people I love. Summer days spent boogie boarding with my mom, aunts and cousins laughing so hard it hurts to breathe, kiteboarding with my dad and brother in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, and diving with my scuba and Reef Check family on the north coast. The ocean has found a way into every facet of my life and I love it that way.

SG: What does being a Salty Girl mean to you?

AN: Embracing the salt, sand, sunburn and everything that comes along with a long day spent underwater!  It means traversing airports, train stations and boarding crossing with soggy bags and no clean clothes. It means pulling urchin spines out of my hands and knees and patching holes in wetsuits.  It means being unapologetic about my passion for the ocean.

SG: Who first got you hooked on the sea?

AN: My parents! We were always at the beach on the weekends and spent many summers sailing North and Central America. They threw me in the ocean when I was a little kid and I never really got out of the water. Every summer (for almost 10 years) my family would host "Daddy Bob's Surf Camp" were all of our friends and family would gather at a local beach and we would teach them to surf or just play around in the ocean for three days non-stop. It was always the event of the summer for me and I started doing marine biology talks when I was in high school and realized how much I liked teaching folks at Surf Camp about the ocean.

SG: When you close your eyes and think of your favorite time on the ocean what do you see?

AN: I think of diving Hopkins Marine Station in Monterey where giant kelp shoots to the surface and seals glide by to say “hello”. Every rock teams with life from sponges and bryozoans, to crabs, sea stars and snails in the cracks shy rockfish hide while their more outgoing counterparts dart between blades of kelp.

SG: What does a healthy ocean look like to you?

AN: I think a healthy ocean is all about diversity, not only different types of fish or invertebrates but a diverse group of organisms within each trophic level.

SG: What is your favorite seafood recipe?

AN: Lingcod or rockfish tacos with onions, cilantro and lime is a classic meal. However, during crab season, I make a delicious spicy crab bisque with coconut milk instead of cream.

SG: What do you never leave home without?

AN: My dog, Fin! He’s my best buddy and we go everywhere together! My wetsuit and a trauma kit have also found a permanent place in my truck.