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Salmon School

Species We Sell

Pink Salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha)


Sockeye Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka)


Keta Salmon (Oncorhynchus keta)


Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar)

Images by Timothy Knepp, US Fish & Wildlife Service


A large, highly migratory family of fish found in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and Great Lakes. Fished mainly in the Bering Sea. Known for their sense of smell and complex life cycles, with most species living in both fresh and salt water at different points in the life cycle. Consumes insects and crustaceans when young, and other fish when adult.


How It's Fished & Processed




Watch this video from our American sister company, Bumble Bee Foods, to learn about fishing, processing, and sustainability of Alaskan salmon. (Fast forward to 5:18 to view ONLY fishing & processing methods.)


GILLNET fishermen set fence-like gillnets across the path of swimming salmon, hoping to catch their gills in the mesh.


PURSE SEINE boats encircle schools of fish with large nets.



Upon arrival of the salmon at the cannery, the fish are quickly unloaded from the boat and sorted according to size and species. The salmon are then loaded into indexer and extractor machines to remove the heads and the eggs.

Next, a cleaning machine removes the fins, tail, scales and entrails, and the fish move to the cleaning tables where they are thoroughly washed. At the beginning of the canning line, the fish are cut into steaks to fit the height of the can. A filling machine then automatically fills each can with salmon and adds a salt tablet. Cans are weighed and any fill or weight variances are corrected.

Lids are then attached to the can, stamped with a production code, and sealed onto the can with a seamer. A vacuum is also used. Cans are washed and inspected prior to being retorted (cooked at very high heat). Cans are loaded onto trays and moved into retort ovens where they are cooked for the calculated amount of time needed to sterilize the contents. After retorting, they are cooled before being palletized (loaded into shipping boxes) and shipped to facilities where the cans are individually labeled and packed, made ready for distribution to the market.


Species We Sell

There are many species of salmon - Clover Leaf cans and markets 4 of these. The vast majority of Clover Leaf salmon comes from the Bering Sea and North-Eastern Pacific Ocean, near the Alaskan coast.


Pink (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha)

Also known as humpies, Pink Salmon are found from northern California and Korea throughout the northern Pacific, and from the Mackenzie River in Canada to the Lena River in Siberia. They are usually found in shorter coastal streams. They are the smallest of the Pacific species, with an average weight of 3.5 lb (1.6 kg) to 4 lb (1.8 kg).

Pink salmon is a light pink colour and has a milder flavour than Sockeye.


Sockeye (Oncorhynchus nerka)

Also known as Red Salmon, this lake-rearing species is found south as far as the Klamath River in California in the eastern Pacific, and northern Hokkaidô Island in Japan in the western Pacific. It is found as far north as Bathurst Inlet in the Canadian Arctic in the east, and the Anadyr River in Siberia in the west. Although most adult Pacific salmon feed on small fish, shrimp, and squid, Sockeye tend to feed on plankton that they filter through gill rakers. Sockeye salmon can be as long as 84 centimetres (33 in) and weigh 4 lb (1.8 kg) to 14 lb (6.4 kg).

Sockeye salmon has a deep red colour, firm texture, and rich flavour.


Keta (Oncorhynchus keta)

Also known as Dog, Chum, or Calico Salmon, the Keta species has the widest geographic range of the Pacific species: south to the Sacramento River in California in the eastern Pacific, and the island of Kyûshû in the Sea of Japan in the western Pacific; north to the Mackenzie River in Canada in the east, and to the Lena River in Siberia in the west. They vary in size from 4 to over 30 pounds, with females generally smaller than males.

Clover Leaf Keta Salmon is a light tan colour and has a softer texture and stronger flavour than our Sockeye or Pink varieties.


Atlantic (Salmo salar)

Atlantic Salmon is found in the northern Atlantic Ocean and in rivers that flow into the north Atlantic. Due to human introduction, it now also lives in the north Pacific. Atlantic salmon range from 5 lb (2.3 kg) to 20 lb (9.1 kg). In general, Atlantic salmon usually reach 18 in (45 cm), although they can grow up to 60 in (150 cm).

Clover Leaf Atlantic Salmon is sourced from Poland. It is firm, pink, and moderately oily, with a slightly milder taste than Pacific species.


Fish Facts

  • The three species of Pacific salmon that we sell (Pink, Sockeye, and Chum) are wild, while Atlantic salmon is farmed.
  • Our canned salmon constitutes about 16% of the product Clover Leaf sells, by volume.
  • The Alaskan salmon fishery (where the majority of our salmon are fished) is considered a model of sustainable fish management. Read more on our Sustainable Salmon.
  • Most salmon are anadromous: they are born in fresh water, migrate to the salty ocean as adults, then return to fresh water to reproduce.
  • Salmon undergo major physical changes throughout their lifespan.
    • Juveniles are called fry, which grow into parr with camouflaging vertical stripes on their bodies.
    • After 1-3 years, they become smolts when their body chemistry changes, allowing them to migrate from their freshwater birth stream into the ocean.
    • While in the open ocean, salmon reach sexual maturity and undergo further body changes, ranging from a hump to canine teeth to a curvature of the jaw, depending on the species. All become a darker colour.
    • After 1-5 years, salmon leave the ocean to battle upstream to their birthplace, laying their eggs in the same place they started their lives. Most die after spawning (a trait called semelparity).
  • Female salmon lay their eggs in a shallow depression they make called a redd. They make up to 7 redds, depositing up to 5 000 eggs, which one or more males will fertilize. Once fertilized, the female covers the eggs in the redd.
  • Salmon spawning is known for its difficulty. Some salmon travel hundreds of miles upstream through rapids and strong currents, climbing thousands of feet in altitude to return to their birth place. It is thought that they use a keen sense of smell to return to the spot they were born.
  • Only about 10% of salmon eggs survive to the smolt stage. Juveniles are killed either by natural predators or by human-caused changes in habitat, such as higher water temperatures or large amounts of silt in the water.
  • Salmon are notorious in folklore. They are found in key Celtic myths, such as Irish, Welsh, and Norse. They are also central to Native American mythology on the Pacific coast.
  • The pinkish-red colour of wild salmon meat comes from shrimp-like krill that make up a large part of their diet at sea.