2007 Winsted Holy Trinity valedictorian catches and sells wild Alaskan seafood
By Starrla Cray
WINSTED, WATERTOWN, MN Commercial fishing off the coast of Alaska isn’t for everyone, but Peter Neaton (son of Paul and Holly Neaton of rural Watertown) is hooked on his career.
“My personal favorite thing about it, is that it really challenges you mentally and physically to almost your full capacity,” he said.
Neaton, who graduated in 2007 as valedictorian of Holy Trinity High School in Winsted, studied nutrition and food science at the University of Vermont. In 2009, he began working with a fellow student, Claire Laukitis, who comes from a family of fishermen in Alaska.
“I went commercial fishing for the first time at age 21,” he recalled. “It was a terrible season fishing for salmon. We had what was equivalent to a farm drought, and hardly made any money.”
Despite a rough start, however, Neaton realized he enjoyed the work, and went back the following season.
“It just kept getting better,” he said.
His relationship with Claire also progressed.
“One thing led to the next, and we’re getting married next year,” Neaton said.
Neaton and his fiancé recently founded Morshovi Bay Fish Company, which creates a direct connection between consumers and fishermen. Here’s how it works: people purchase a share of wild Alaskan seafood in the summer, and after the season is over, the frozen fish are personally delivered to homes, stores, and restaurants in the Twin Cities area.
According to Neaton’s website, wild-caught seafood offers many environmental and nutritional advantages over farmed seafood.
“The quality of wild salmon speaks for itself,” Neaton said, explaining that farmed salmon is often dyed to give it the coloring that naturally occurs in the wild.
Seafood is a diet staple for Neaton and the crew when they’re on the boats. Commercial fishing is a physically demanding job, and eating nutritious foods helps Neaton maintain his strength and focus.
“You burn a lot of calories just keeping your balance,” he said. “We’re in pretty good shape by the end of it.”
Fishermen must frequently contend with less-than-ideal weather conditions. Summer is often chilly, and in the winter, daylight is scarce. One year, Neaton remembers having to stop to break off ice chunks that were building up on the boat.
“It’s really tough work, and you’re away from your family,” he said. “But, when you get through it, it’s really rewarding. You know you’re doing everything you can to make a living.”
And, on the days when the sun is shining and the fish are biting, Neaton said it’s hard to imagine anything better.
“I learn new things every day,” he said.
Taste the difference
Peter Neaton will be delivering wild Alaskan seafood to customers in the Twin Cities region this fall. The deadline to order is mid-August.
For more information, go to www.morshovifish.com, or call (907) 548-2210.