Remembering Kurt Grinnell, the Native American aquaculture leader
“He was a storyteller, who could bring alive the stories about ancestral life, including the importance of aquaculture, which was part of the Salish people since at least 1400 A.D.”
The seafood farming community will establish a youth scholarship program in memory of Kurt Grinnell, the Native American leader who championed marine aquaculture in Washington State.
Grinnell, 57, a Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal Council member, died in a single-vehicle accident in Port Angeles, where he lived, on April 20, 2021.
He had helped develop Jamestown Seafood, owned collectively by the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, into a multimillion-dollar business with more than 50 employees. Grinnell also led the tribe’s partnership with Canada-based Cooke Aquaculture Inc., served as vice president of the Northwest Aquaculture Alliance , and also steered Jamestown Seafood into oyster farming and oyster-seed production.
“It was Kurt’s bold dream to bring marine aquaculture to Port Angeles, the Olympic Peninsula, and to the traditional seafood grounds of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe,” said Jim Parsons, President of the Northwest Aquaculture Alliance (NWAA).
“When asked why he became such a passionate advocate of aquaculture, Kurt had a simple answer: Our traditional fishing grounds are no longer as productive as they used to be. To truly be a sovereign nation, we as a people need food sovereignty. As a major part of that, we need to feed our people nutritious seafood and its important marine nutrients—and it is part of our culture to plan seven generations ahead,” he said in a statement.
“He was a storyteller, who could bring alive the stories about ancestral life, including the importance of aquaculture, which was part of the Salish people since at least 1400 A.D.,” remembered Parsons.
Joel Richardson, vice president of public relations of Cooke Inc. said Grinnell’s contributions to the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe and the Salish fisheries and aquaculture industry have been meaningful and significant.
“Kurt was a colleague and friend to many of us at Cooke. He visited our global headquarters in New Brunswick in 2019. During this time, he made a lasting, positive impression on those he connected with in our family farming operations,” said Richardson.
In his memory, Cooke will be supporting the youth scholarship program being organized by the NWAA, he said.
(Image of Kurt Grinnell courtesy of Jamestown Seafood)