Trade is the lifeline of small communities

In Alaska, two sisters launched a clothing brand based, Salmon Sisters, based on their upbringing and work as commercial fishermen, celebrating an existence at sea. Container shipping helps bring their catch to customers around the world and sustain the unique lifestyle of the isolated community.

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Trade is the lifeline of small communities 5:40

Trade and transport at Maersk

Around the world, billions of people depend on containers for a steady supply of food and goods. As the building blocks of global trade, containers connect producers and consumers across continents.

The long days of the Alaskan summer are exceptional. The air is alive with energy, nature is in full bloom and it is high season for salmon fishing, the most valuable commercial fishery in the state.

“My dream is to be able to provide more people with good, real wild seafood,” says Claire Laukitis, who despite only being in her mid-20s is already a veteran of Alaska’s commercial fishing.

Growing up in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska, Claire and her sister, Emma Laukitis, began working on the family fishing boat in the Bering Sea at a young age. Here, they developed a deep appreciation for their upbringing and for the sustainable fisheries that would become their occupation and passion.

“Never go back”

“We live in one of the most pristine, sustainably managed, amazingly remote places in Alaska, and it takes an insane amount of logistics and transportation and just crazy effort to get this seafood to people’s plates. But it’s worth it in every way. When they finally taste it, they never go back,” Claire Laukitis says.

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When we deliver all of our catch to the dock, it’s immediately put in a Maersk container and moved. It’s just dispersed and it’s neat to know that it’s taken care of in such an immaculate way, travelling so quickly to the consumer even if we don’t know where that specific container is headed.

CLAIRE LAUKITIS

Trade and transport at Maersk

Around the world, billions of people depend on containers for a steady supply of food and goods. As the building blocks of global trade, containers connect producers and consumers across continents.

Commercial fishing is a major industry in Alaska and has been for hundreds of years. Alaska Natives have harvested salmon and many other types of fish since the early 17th century. In recent years, the fishing has become global, and container shipping connects the fishermen with consumers around the world.

“When we deliver all of our catch to the dock, it’s immediately put in a Maersk container and moved. It’s just dispersed and it’s neat to know that it’s taken care of in such an immaculate way, travelling so quickly to the consumer even if we don’t know where that specific container is headed,” says Claire Lukaitis.

Maersk Line transports perishable goods across long distances in refrigerated containers (reefers). With new technology, teams can monitor the conditions in the container throughout the voyage. If they change or the reefer malfunctions, an alarm instantly appears – making them able to fix any issue.

Smart containers listen and talk

By outfitting its fleet of reefer containers with “smart” technology, Maersk Line is reducing risk in customer supply chains and saving itself millions of dollars in costs while representing the cutting edge technology and innovation in shipping.

Celebrating a lifestyle

In addition to fishing, Emma and Claire own the “Salmon Sisters”, a clothing brand they started three years ago selling t-shirts, sweatshirts and handbags. Celebrating the people and lifestyle of commercial fishing in Alaska, the brand is attracting a growing audience through social media – both locally and internationally.

“Salmon is the best super food, pure protein, and it’s caught by these hilarious, wonderful and hardworking families where there’s usually several generations on the boat. They are so proud of what they do and what they catch and they just want to share that with the world,” Emma Laukitis says, adding:

“Basically, the stories are about the quirky people that you find in coastal towns. And some of the creatures you pull up from the water; they’re pretty spectacular too.”

Both Emma and Claire Laukitis left Alaska to go to college in ‘the lower 48’ as continental US is referred to in Alaska, but eventually returned home to resume their passions. And today’s ability to share the seafood and the lifestyle with the world has not eclipsed their childhood memories of a lesser-connected world.

“Growing up, we used to order our groceries once a year. We’d put in one collective order and it would come up from Seattle by barge, in a huge container. It was just this huge process of getting these things we needed to survive in the winter and the summer on the boat,” Claire Lukaitis recalls.

“Today, Maersk is the lifeline of a lot of small Alaskan communities, especially along the Aleutian Islands. You can only be so self-sustainable, and you need a lot of basic goods to survive and that comes from the outside. Luckily, we have something to trade with.”

The Salmon Sisters can be found on Instagram as aksalmonsisters.