(Dillingham, Alaska) – Bristol Bay is celebrating Wild Alaska Salmon Day on Aug. 10 as a day of action on the heels of another record-breaking salmon season in Bristol Bay this year.
In late July, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game released the latest daily race summary for the 2022 season at Bristol Baywho estimated that the 2022 sockeye run was numbered 78,366,952 million fish, breaking the previous record of 67.7 million sockeye set in 2021. The commercial catch of 59,550,022 sockeye through July 31 broke the previous record catch set in 1995. These numbers continue to rise as that the fishery continues and will be finalized this fall. The 2022 record season is due to thousands of years of Indigenous stewardship and sustainable management that have kept the Bristol Bay watershed unpolluted and pristine.
More than a dozen Bristol Bay communities are holding a day of action today to demand the Biden administration finalize Clean Water Act protections that could safeguard the region’s record salmon runs for future generations. .
In response to this record-breaking season, tribes, commercial fishers and conservation groups released the following statements:
“Salmon have supported the people of Bristol Bay for thousands of years due to our ancestral stewardship of our pristine lands and waters. We are grateful that our salmon continue to return home in record numbers, but our watershed still faces the grave threat of mines like Pebble. Bristol Bay remains a salmon stronghold and will only survive if it is permanently protected. The EPA is to finalize Clean Water Act protections for our fishery’s headwaters this year,” said Alannah Hurley, executive director of the United Tribes of Bristol Bay.
“As I and thousands of other anglers complete another record breaking season, we are absolutely in awe of the abundance Bristol Bay has to offer. Once again Bristol Bay has outdone itself, reminding us of what is possible when the salmon have the healthy habitat and clean water they need to thrive. Again though, we have fished with the threat of the Pebble Mine hanging over us all season. We have worked hard this season to deliver a record 59 million wild sockeye salmon to market and now we’re calling on the EPA – once again – to put Clean Water Act protections in place for Bristol Bay by the end of this year. said Katherine Carscallen, executive director of Bristol Bay Commercial Fishermen.
“After this record season, there is no doubt that the Bristol Bay salmon fishery is critical to the health and stability of Alaska’s seafood industry. Bristol Bay generates revenue and economic activity throughout the seafood supply chain, supporting thousands of jobs across the country, from shipping to processing to retail. It is a booming economic engine that deserves the utmost protection,” said Mark Palmer, CEO of OBI Seafoods.
“Wild salmon is a menu item that my customers hope to find when they come to my restaurants. The Bristol Bay salmon fishery is alive and well. However, this will only remain an option if we protect the wild places that wild salmon need to thrive. That’s why I stand with the tribes and fishers of Bristol Bay in support of the Clean Water Act protections for Bristol Bay. We cannot afford to lose this irreplaceable source of sustainable wild salmon,” said Renee Erickson, award-winning Seattle chef and owner of Sea Creatures restaurants.
“As the historic 2022 season comes to an end in Bristol Bay, we are once again reminded of what we stand for. The fly fishing industry is proud to have supported efforts to protect this incredible and irreplaceable resource. for many years to come and the fly fishing community will continue to stand with the people of Bristol Bay until the threat of the Pebble Mine is finally extinguished,” said Whitney Tilt, Executive Director of the AFFTA Fisheries Fund.
“This record fishing season has shown the world what we already know – it’s time for the Environmental Protection Agency to finalize the Clean Water Act protections and safeguard Bristol Bay for generations to come. Tribes, fishers and communities around the world are counting on the EPA to finish the job and ensure this is the last fishing season under threat from the Pebble Mine,” said Tim Bristol, executive director of SalmonState.
“It’s hard to imagine a more compelling argument for an EPA veto of the Pebble Mine than Mother Nature’s brilliant display in Bristol Bay this summer,” said Joel Reynolds, West Director and Senior Counsel for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “The record run of 78.4 million wild salmon is a resounding affirmation of the urgent need to protect this national treasure and the people and wildlife it supports. The EPA needs to finish the job now that it started more than a decade ago.
Bristol Bay salmon supports the cultural and spiritual identity of the region’s tribes, provides more than 50% of the world’s sockeye salmon, supports an economy valued at over $2.2 billion, and employs tens of thousands of people in commercial fishing, hunting and sport fishing. , outdoor recreation and tourism.
As tribes, commercial fishermen and area residents participated in this record-breaking season, they also engaged in a comment period on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Draft Decision (PD) regarding pebble deposition in the Bristol Bay Catchment. So far, hundreds of thousands of comments have been submitted for the EPA to finalize these protections as soon as possible. The public comment period ends on September 6, 2022.
Pebble Mine is an open pit mining project intended to extract copper, gold and molybdenum. If fully built, the mine would produce up to 10.2 billion tonnes of toxic waste that would sit there forever, threatening to destroy one of the world’s last thriving salmon runs.
NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international non-profit environmental organization with over 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health and the environment. The NRDC has offices in New York, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.