About the Hardcastles
The family business began in 2003 with Heather’s parents, Pete & Sheila Peterson, and is now co-owned with friends, Winston & Renee Warr, to market the family’s carefully handled, premium catch to quality-conscious chefs, fishmongers and consumers. They also purchase and market the catch of five other families who gillnet for sockeye near the mouth of the Taku River.
How They Met
In 1998, in Maui, working on a whale-watching vessel. Heather has degrees in environmental management and biology; Kirk, in marine biology and environmental physiology.
Kirk, did you ever expect to marry the daughter of a fisherman and move to Alaska?
Kirk: I grew up in Northern California and worked as a chef in the wine country, so I understand that where food comes from affects its quality and flavor. But I always knew I’d get to Alaska. Heather grew up fishing with her parents, so I was able to take a shortcut.
What do you do in the winter?
Heather: Like many Alaskans who fish, we have second and even third jobs. We’re both working with the Alaska Energy Authority on a grant project to convert fish waste into a renewable energy source. And we use our tender vessel to collect used cooking oil from cruise ships, and plan to convert this oil to biodiesel. I also teach, and Kirk travels up and down the Pacific coast captaining boats.
What does sustainability mean to you?
Kirk: The concept of sustainable fisheries isn’t just about a system for the management of the fish and the ecosystem. It also includes the fishermen themselves and the entire pipeline of the market—the buyers, the retail markets, the restaurants. It’s also about using as much of each fish as possible. For instance, we remove the “tenderloin” on either side of the backbone and use it ourselves or sell it as a value-added product. That’s also the reason one of our side projects is getting the energy out of any fish waste, rather than just tossing it out.
Advice to anyone who wants to fish for a living?
Heather: You don’t do it for a living; you do it for a lifestyle.