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Marie Rose: Bringing Sustainably Fished Alaska Salmon to Michigan

  • Author:
    Catherine Ferland
  • Published:
    Winter 2017

Growing up in Battle Creek, Marie Rose hated fish. When her family sat down for salmon, she demanded chicken. And fishing? Forget it.

But today, her life revolves around fish. She’s a co-founder of Shoreline Wild Salmon, an Alaska-based company that brings sustainably fished wild salmon to Michigan.
While majoring in social work, Rose advocated for domestic violence victims and feminist causes—work she thought she’d continue after graduation. Then she took a summer job at a nonprofit in Alaska and discovered her attraction to the state’s salmon industry and the rugged families who keep it turning.

Her job with Alaska Center for the Environment had her speaking with fishermen about ways to preserve ocean habitat. “But I really wanted to get my hands dirty,” she said.

After befriending veteran fishermen Joe Emerson and Keith Heller, she began working on Heller’s fishing vessel. The Shoreline Scow is a gender bender—all female operated for 31 years.

“Women are claiming their space out there,” Rose said.  

“There’s a lot of intersectionality between feminism and the work I’ve been a part of, especially now being a co-owner of this business,” she said. But Rose, with a head full of dreadlocks and a strong, approachable demeanor, is proud to be part of the growing community of fisherwomen.

So why Michigan?

“A lot of starting this business was figuring out how to bring this resource that I had grown so close to up in Alaska, to my home state,” she said.

Every cut of Shoreline Wild Salmon is caught by trolling—meaning the fish are caught on hooks and lines.

“Our method ensures the best quality of fish because we catch and handle salmon individually, which also limits bycatch,” she explained.

The budding business is working on creating a website and preparing for the next season of wild salmon to be exported to Eastern Michigan farmer’s markets.

Rose loves her new life in Alaska. While it’s not as dangerous as Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch, it still entails long days of unloading fish and packing them into ice, all while covered in fish scales and slime. “There’s so much humility in all of it,” she said, laughing.

What Rose loves most about her new home in the Last Frontier is the seclusion. “At the end of the day, you would turn the generator off and you would see the lights dim and it would go silent and the only thing that you could hear were the waves crashing on the scow. There was no one in sight for miles at times. It was the most peaceful feeling in the world,” she said.