Deckboss has spent enough time on Bristol Bay gillnet boats to have seen some pretty scary stuff when it comes to handling salmon.
I've seen beautiful sockeye kicked, stepped on and slammed hard to the metal deck, no doubt causing horrible bruising and other damage to what ultimately will become someone's dinner.
For years, thoughtful Bristol Bay fishermen and processors have pined for better treatment of the fish in what can be one of the most hectic of harvests.
Now, someone has invented a new piece of equipment designed to catch the salmon as they're picked from the net and then gently guide them toward the hold.
It's called the SalmonSlide, and you can get a look at it on YouTube.
I don't know what it costs, but the SalmonSlide looks like a pretty cool idea to me.
I learned about the invention from an e-mail I received today from the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association.
Here's the pertinent part of that e-mail:
Processors pony up for the SalmonSlide
You may know it as The Salmon Trampoline or The Flopper, but whatever you call it, Dave Hansen's innovative product has been attracting a lot of attention. The recently renamed SalmonSlide intercepts fish between the net and the deck as they are picked; slides them into a chute mounted immediately below and aft of the drum; then directs the fish toward port or starboard hatches (or both).
Last week, Hansen demonstrated the SalmonSlide for processors and a handful of interested fishermen in Bellingham. The demos took place on two vessels, Pete Biazavich's Lady Kate and Kari Toivola's Magnum. Attendees seemed unanimous in their praise of the SalmonSlide, noting its potential to prevent damage to fish and to reduce wear and tear on the crew.
In order to accelerate adoption of the SalmonSlide across the fleet, Hansen is currently nailing down bulk orders from several processors. The BBRSDA is not in the business of promoting individual businesses, but this innovation has potential to improve both quality and handling practices in the bay. We will provide occasional updates as Hansen and his processor-customers clarify their plans regarding supply and distribution.