About Us

Originally established in 1972, Barlean’s Fishery Inc. is still a family owned business! Barlean’s Fishery has always dedicated its heart and energy to making every family, near and far, proud to prepare and serve Barlean’s seafood by providing the freshest seafood available. From the beginning, in the early 1970’s, Dave Barlean quit his job as a pipe fitter and decided to go reef-netting full time. He redesigned the traditional canoe style boats into a catamaran style and changed the reef netting industry: it was the first of a trend. These new style of boats allowed Barlean’s Fishery to produce the highest quality wild salmon available. By owning three boats and using some advance telemarketing for the times, Barbara and Dave Barlean were able to deliver fresh salmon across the state within hours of being harvested. Although they are the most effecient ecologically and the best method for the freshest salmon around, today, there are only 11 boats in existence, all located in the San Juan Islands. In 1990 David, Barbara and their son Bruce Barlean became interested in yet another rich source of Omega 3 fats and began pressing organic flax oil. Using the same principles of freshness and direct distribution, Barlean’s Organic Oils quickly soared to number one in their category. In 1994, their daughter Cindy and her husband Ronan acquired Barlean’s Fishery and continued serving the community in the family tradition of excellence. Then in 2014 Cindy and her husband Ronan sold the business to her brother Bruce, allowing the family tradition to continue.

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Throughout the years Barlean’s Fishery has had to weather poor fishing seasons, political uncertainty, new government regulation, and a change in the consumer to buying daily instead of weekly. In 1997 Barlean’s Fishery, Inc built a new processing facility to keep up with the new demands. The Fishery boasted a brand new smoke house to start preserving fish, live tanks for dungeness crabs and manila clams, and custom processing, for themselves and for the local fishermen. The new plant allowed complete compliance with the new local, state, and federal regulations. The additional space in the new red “Fish House” also allowed the handling and processing times to be shortened, ensuring that the seafood is at the peak of freshness when sold. Here at Barleans, processing and retail sales occur in the same building, eliminating the question of, “How old is this fish?” Customers are even welcome, and encouraged, to pick their fish right off the processing line. Today, Barlean’s Fishery, Inc. is open year round to buy and sell seafood. Barlean’s Fishery buys halibut, Dungeness crab, spot prawns, oysters, and clams directly from local fishermen or shellfish farms. By buying direct, our quality is superior without the added costs of expensive brokers, traders, and distributors. With this reputation of our excellent quality, and the ability to buy the finest seafood locally, restaurants in the Bellingham area are proud to use our seafood to serve to their customers. All products can be shipped directly from our Ferndale processing plant to your door, or packed for travel if you are visiting. It is our goal to make every customer confident and pleased to serve only Barlean’s premium seafood to friends and family. Great taste and quality don’t just happen, they are the result of planning, teamwork and a dedication to excellence.

Local Restaurants featuring Barlean's Seafood

To list off the restaurants we supply with the Pacific Northwest’s best seafood is getting to be quite a mouthful these days! Here is a list of the restaurants that we supply locally. If you haven’t tried these places yet, give them a try! Our team has ventured to all of these fine establishments and each has something worthy of trying!

From our adventures, we have come to know D’annas knows their way around the seafood medley pasta; no one should ever pass up the opportunity for Boundary Bay Brewery and Bistro’s Smoked Salmon Chowder; Bayou on Bay has the best frogs legs and jambalaya; Rock and Rye Oyster house of course has the best oysters; and Homeskillet’s salmon hash and eggs is the best breakfast ever! We hope to see you at some of our favorite local restaurants, because there is nothing better than local eats made with local catches!

The Shores D'Anna's Cafe
Homeskillet Mt. Bakery
Rock and Rye Oyster Bar Vonna's Purple Fin
Bayou on Bay Chuckanut Brewery
Skylark's Hidden Cafe Boundary Bay Brewery
Keenan's Brandywine Kitchen
Nicki's Bella Marina Community Food Co-op

Reef Netting

Reef netting is a century old Native American way of harvesting salmon that has developed into the most unique and ecological method of harvesting wild salmon. Currently there are 11 license holders in the world, all operating in the San Juan Islands in the Pacific Northwest. This fishery utilizes scoop nets and live tanks for harvesting wild salmon. These live tanks enable targeted salmon species to relax and metabolize any lactic acid built up during the brief encounter with the net. The fish then remain alive until moments before processing, ensuring the highest quality available. In addition, the fishermen are able to grade out and release untargeted species and other marine life without harm.

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Reef nets are designed to simulate a natural reef or an obstacle that the salmon must swim across. This reef is created by weaving plastic streamers into rope and creating what is essentially a very large three sided funnel. While swimming across the reef, the salmon are brought close to the surface and between the two working platforms and into a scoop net. Fishermen standing in towers are able to observe the salmon swimming into the net. The net is quickly pulled to the surface with high speed electric winches and the salmon are worked into a small pocket where they are slid across a notch in one of the working platforms pontoons and into the live tank. This process called a “haul” usually takes less than one minute. Once in the live tank, untargeted species can be released unharmed while the desired ones swim freely. All salmon are hand handled and since there is no machinery used, there is no bruising to the flesh. Fishermen can actually distinguish between salmon species and won’t haul if they know it is a non targeted species. In addition, if the salmon are not observed swimming into the net, they simple circle in the net and leave with no harm or injury.

Dave Barlean revolutionized reef netting in 1972 by converting the traditional canoe style boats to a catamaran style and placed a live tank between the pontoons where the captured salmon could swim freely until just moments before processing. Besides the live tanks, other benifits were quickly realized with the new style boat. The catamaran are very stable in rough weather and wouldn’t swamp, they are wider giving the fishermen more working area, and are have a lower profile. This lower profile reduced the height that the fish had to be lifted during a “haul”, making it quicker and easier for the fishermen and for salmon.

These few changes have allowed the reef net to produce the highest quality salmon with the least environmental impacts.