National Seafood Month: Spotlight on Wisconsin Fisher Jessica Resac
Lake Superior Commercial Fisher Jessica Resac
By Marie Zhuikov, Wisconsin Sea Grant
It’s National Seafood Month, what is one thing everyone needs to know about local seafood (or Great Lakes Seafood)?
The Lake Superior fish that we catch at Halvorson Fisheries in Bayfield, Wis., is extremely clean and fresh. It’s caught daily, processed the same day and goes out to local restaurants and consumers the same day. It’s more than wonderful to be able to go out on the largest and cleanest of the Great Lakes and provide a delicious and healthy meal to people. It’s so much hard work and long hours, but it’s totally worth it!
What is your job and the biggest challenge you face doing it?
I wear many hats at Halvorson Fisheries. I actually go out on the boats to catch the fish. I help with the filleting process. I help in the fish market. I mend gear and make new nets. I do some of the paperwork and a lot of the computer work associated with federal and state rules, regulations and laws. Probably the latter is the most challenging. New rules and regulations and changes to existing laws are continuous. Everything has to be in compliance; updated, changed, renewed, or more restrictions added regularly. My supervisor does her best to keep on top of all this paperwork and I just do my best to help her out.
Jessica Resac. Image: David Nevala.
When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in fisheries?
I took the summer off from graduate school in 2003. Mark Halvorson asked me to come to Cornucopia, Wis., to help on the fishing boats. I never knew it would be so much hard work and long hours. I’ve left several times to do something different. I returned within a month or so each time. I finally took a position in a hospital lab in December of 2014. Every day I am off from lab, I go fishing or work at the fisheries, sometimes both jobs in one day. Hard work and being on the lake are rewarding, and I just can’t give it up.
What part of your job did you least expect to be doing?
The federal and state laws and all the rules, regulations, fees and paperwork/computer work that is required for a commercial fishery that processes and sells fish. The state of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources commercial fish reports, boat licensing, commercial licenses, temperature logs, filleting logs fish sold logs, wholesale reports, HAACP plans for everything we do. I never expected so much paperwork!
What is your connection to Sea Grant?
I have received the Minnesota and Wisconsin Sea Grant newsletters for years now because of my interest in the Great Lakes fisheries. When the “Eat Wisconsin Fish” promotions came out in 2014, I sent away to receive the promotional materials. We were all delighted and surprised to see the Halvorson boats in the promotional flyer. We had no idea!
What surprised you most about working with Sea Grant?
I was just surprised that they contacted Halvorson Fisheries. It was really fun to have the Wisconsin Sea Grant photographer at the fisheries. He brought some excitement to the workday and was something out-of-the-norm. His photos are fantastic! I guess a regular person doesn’t really think their job is something unusual until someone expresses interest.