Door County Fish Companies Join a New Fish Pledge Program

By John Hank & Vicente Estrada


Fishing has been a big part of Wisconsin’s shoreline economy and personality for as long as man has lived on its shores. From the Native Americans and First Nations peoples to the early settlers to today’s fishermen. Fishing provides food, jobs, and other materials for the local and national economy and commerce. But there is a problem when only the meat is harvested, and the rest goes to waste. This is a problem: a new pledge signed by three fishing companies in Door County looks to end.

The pledge was started by Great Lakes St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers. “We’re always encouraged about ways to be sustainable and diversify a bit,” said Henriksen Fisheries co-owner Charlie Henriksen. The fisheries joining this pledge not only provide more materials other than just the filets but also safeguard the local ecosystem and help prevent overfishing and depopulation. The products are items such as leather, which can be made out of fish skin. “They’re tanning the whitefish skins to make a leather product that we’re experimenting with,” said Henriksen to Fox 11. Even though the profits from the other products used from the fish don’t go to Henriksen, he has said that he hopes it has an economic boost. It is hoped that with an estimated economic boost, there will be more jobs in and around Door County, as well as more people coming to the area. According to the pledge project, the profits from a single fish would go from $12 to around $4,000. This would be a massive increase and allow for more and new industries to form and thrive around the fishing industry.

The Sign outside of Henriksen Fisheries (WLUK/Andrew Mertins)

Three Fish Companies located in Door County, Wisconsin, have joined a fish pledge program called the 100% Great Lakes Fish Pledge. The pledge is focused on using 100% of the fish caught in the Great Lakes by 2025 for uses such as protein, collagen, leather, and many other byproducts. Fish found throughout the Great Lakes include Lake Whitefish, Yellow Perch, Walleye, and Lake Trout. The pledge has partnered with the Iceland Ocean Cluster, which came up with the pledge by using 100% of their Icelandic cod for different uses other than the filets. The fish companies in Door County involved in the pledge are Henriksen Fisheries, Baileys Harbor Fish Company, and J & M Fisheries. Those involved pledge to use strategies to help use 100% of the fish, investing in new tech and ways to use all of the fish to make byproducts, spreading the word about the pledge and encouraging others to do the same, and being open to expanding upon the pledge. The pledge can help the Great Lakes fishery by providing economic returns, creating more job opportunities, etc.

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