Solar Fishery


Feedsee Energy : Solar Fishery : Panels recharge battery banks for salmon industry

In 2007, the world's first solar-powered salmon fishery was under a partnership in Washington State between Lummi Island Wild Coop and Alpha Energy. The project begin with Alpha Energy installing solar panels on part of Lummi Island Wild's reefnet fleet. Solar panels recharged battery banks used to power the boats' winches and gear. Previously, thousands of pounds of batteries had to be ferried to shore for recharging every couple of days.

Lummi Island Wild Coop formed when a small group of reefnet owners began to organize the last remaining reefnet gears. Reef netting is an old form of net fishing, done centuries ago by Native Americans using cedar canoes and cedar nets. The fishery supplies premium quality sustainable wild seafood wholesale and to individuals on the web. Alpha Energy develops turnkey photovoltaic systems for commercial, residential, institutional and remote off-grid applications.

What is Reef Netting?

Reef netting is an old fishing method, originally developed by the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest, particularly the Lummi Nation. Reef netting is a sustainable and selective fishing technique that allows for live release of non-target species, minimizing bycatch. It is used today primarily in the salmon fishery.

Here's how the process works:

  1. Setting up the Gear: Reef net gear consists of two small boats, called "leads," anchored about 50 feet apart. Suspended between the boats is a net that forms a sort of pocket or scoop in the water. Two wings, or leads, guide fish over the pocket. On the surface, stretching out several hundred feet from each lead boat, are artificial reefs made of colorful bunting designed to attract and guide the fish toward the net. The fish follow these reefs and swim over the scoop.
  2. Spotting the Fish: Fishermen stand on towers mounted on the lead boats and watch for fish to swim into the net. The towers give the fishermen a clear view into the water, allowing them to see when salmon (or any other type of fish) have swum over the net.
  3. Hoisting the Net: When they see that target fish species are over the net, the fishermen on each boat pull on lines to lift the net quickly, scooping the fish out of the water and into the area between the boats.
  4. Sorting the Catch: The fish are then sorted. Non-target species, or undersized target fish, can be released back into the water alive, minimizing bycatch mortality.

Reef netting with reefnet gear is an ecologically friendly fishing method. Not only does it have a low impact on marine habitats (as it does not drag along the seafloor like trawling), but it also allows for the live release of non-target species and juveniles.

Lummi Island is one of the few places in the world where reaf netting is used on a commercial scale.