Meet Your Fishermen: Captain Dustan and Evie Dickerson, The Couple Behind The Octopus In Your Can
Without the relationships we have with Alaska's fishermen, Wildfish Cannery is nothing but an idea. These bonds, some comfortably decades old while others are new and vibrant, are based on trust and mutual respect for the bounty of the deep, cold Alaskan waters that provide us with our livelihoods.
In this post, we wanted to shine a little light on one of these relationships that we truly treasure—that with our friends and cephalopod cognoscenti Dustan and Evie Dickerson, who run Raven Bay Seafoods out of Dutch Harbor, AK
Dustan and Evie are the team behind the octopus in your can. Hailing from Oregon originally, young Dustan heard tale of a last-frontier fishing town called Dutch Harbor and decided to check it out for himself.
He flew to Dutch in 1987, and immediately fell in love with the barren rusticity of the land, with extinct snow-capped volcanoes dotting the skyline and crumbling WWII battlements speckling the wild and barren landscape. Just a day after he arrived he got a job on a crab processor and has been on the water, in some form or another, ever since. In 1994, after a 7-year stint fishing for crab, he made the leap to becoming an owner/operator with his purchase of the 42’ F/V Katie Jean out of Seward, AK and jigged and long-lined for cod until 2002. He and Evie then purchased the F/V Raven Bay, a seiner they spent 6 months converting to a longliner and pots boat.
Dustan and Evie soon started noticing the number of octopus that would be coming up in the cod pots. Normally, incidentally-caught octopus are used as bait for the cod and crab fisheries (something us seafood lovers take rather personally.) However, a downturn in the success of the cod fishery led to their decision to take advantage of the by-catch bounty and look for a commercial market for octopus. But in 2017 there wasn’t one, so being the industrious Alaskans they are, they decided to create one! As Dustan hauled pots, Evie had the job to create the supply chain and orchestrate the logistics to get the octopus from Dutch Harbor to Seattle and beyond! Without Evie masterminding all of the planning, this idea would have never come to fruition, Dustan says. Soon thereafter, Raven Bay and Wildfish connected and our smoked, cured, canned octopus was born!