Colville Tribal member Calem Louie, who works at the Colville Tribal Food Distribution Program, unloads a trailer load of turkeys donated to the Colville Tribes from Pacific Aquaculture.

NESPELEM - Pacific Aquaculture, which owns and operates the net pens on the Omak-Columbia River Road west of Nespelem - donated 200 turkeys and 50 gift cards to the Colville Tribes Food Distribution Center, Nov. 18, which were handed out to families this week across the reservation.

Since Pacific Aquaculture purchased the net pens on the Colville Reservation in 2008, the company has donated turkeys to tribal families as a form of giving back during the holidays, said Bill Clark, Pacific Aquaculture Steelhead Division Manager.

“Our company owner, Frank Dulcich was out on the peninsula one year, years ago,” said Clark. “He saw that a tribe there was donating turkeys to families in need and he thought that was important. We started doing that when we took over here in 2008 and it is something that we have continued. We really want to target the neediest families on the reservation and make sure that everyone has something for the holidays. That is what it is really about.”

Pacific Aquaculture - and the larger Pacific Seafood company - prides itself on being a family-oriented and community-focused, said Clark.

Locally, the company has worked recently to become even more involved in the community, said Clark, stating he had recently asked his team: “How can we help, not necessarily monetarily, but labor wise. How can we help the community? That’s all in development, but I’d want more community outreach, however that looks.”

“We all live here, we all work here, all of our team members do,” said Danielle Florenzen, Pacific Aquaculture’s Fish Health Lab Manager. “So however we can give back, we are all on board.”

Although the event was cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pacific Aquaculture donates annually as well to the Sunflower Festival at Paschal Sherman Indian School. 

The company also donates upon request to funerals and other community events, said Clark.

Since purchasing the net pens in 2008, Pacific Aquaculture has grown their Columbia River operation, most recently opening a third site in 2016, and Clark noted the company continues to look at opportunities to grow.

“I think we are the only production, net pen aquaculture site left in the Pacific Northwest,” said Clark. “They’re still doing it in British Columbia and on the east coast, but nowhere in the Pacific Northwest. We’re the only ones left with net-pen operations. We’d like to continue to expand… We’d like to continue to provide a good, sustainable protein. That’s our goal.”

“The wild fishery alone doesn’t supply enough protein,” said Florenzen. “People don’t realize that, I think. That’s why we would like to continue to see things grow … If you relied on the wild fishery alone, you would deplete the wild resource, which is what we don’t want to do.”

Since 2013, the company’s Columbia River operation has received certification for Best Aquaculture Practices from the Global Aquaculture Alliance, a certification maintained annually in part through adherence to both tribal and federal environmental.

Along with a poundage-based royalty payment to the Colville Tribes, the company pays annual land lease to the Colville Tribes.

The Colville Tribes distributed turkeys in Inchelium on Nov. 18, in Keller on Nov. 19, in Nespelem on Nov. 20 and in Omak on Nov. 21.

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