SEASIDE — Seaside Heights Elementary fifth-graders will learn about local and sustainable fisheries through a new “boat-to-school” culinary program.

Throughout the year, the students will raise salmon, prepare seafood meals at a culinary event, take a field trip to a hatchery and receive take-home dinner kits to cook with their families. They will learn about salmon, ground fish, crab, albacore and pink shrimp through activity books, lesson plans and hands-on activities.

The Oregon Albacore Commission was awarded a $15,411 Farm to School grant from the state Department of Education to promote Oregon seafood with fifth-grade classes in the Seaside School District.

“This is our pilot school,” said Oregon Salmon Commission Executive Director Nancy Fitzpatrick. “We’ll see where we go next year and how far we expand.”

Speakers will include guests from the Oregon commissions on salmon, trawl, Dungeness crab and albacore and fishermen from each fishery. The Marine Stewardship Council has certified many of the fisheries students will learn about.

Pacific City salmon fisherman Ray Monroe talked to students last week about small dory fishing boats and the process of cleaning, gutting and freezing fish. Students were chosen to demonstrate “trolling,” the method of slowly moving the fishing line through the water.

“Our fisheries are also heavily regulated and sustainable fisheries,” Monroe said, adding that a tax on fishing licenses and permits goes to a restoration and enhancement fund that helps restore streams and plant trees.

“Fishermen want to make sure there is still plenty of fish out there in the ocean, so they do everything they can to make sure that the fish are sustainable,” Fitzpatrick said.

Christa Svensson, with Bornstein Seafoods in Astoria, coordinates domestic and international sales so that fish can be made into fillets or other forms and shipped to different locations.

Some students raised their hands when Svensson asked if anyone had family members who work in fishing or plants.

“It’s exciting to see that we still have a lot of fishing families in the area,” Svensson said. “It’s thousands of people in Astoria, Seaside, Gearhart and Cannon Beach that are involved in helping bring seafood to your tables.”

The speakers emphasized that women can be fishers, too. Svensson said she started going fishing in grade school with her father.

“Fishing is a choice,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s with joy that they do this job.”

Students saw frozen Chinook salmon and learned about coded wire tags inserted into fish from hatcheries.

The tags can tell scientists what hatchery the caught fish came from, such as the Columbia River or Rogue River locations, Fitzpatrick said.

In January, students will raise Chinook salmon eggs until they are ready to go out into the stream.

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