Seattle, WA – Alaska’s Bristol Bay salmon fishery is winding down, with fishermen already having harvested well over 15 million sockeye salmon. Meanwhile, thousands of grocery stores are telling their customers about Bristol Bay sockeye, the world’s largest sustainable salmon run – and the threat that hangs over the salmon resource of Bristol Bay.
The Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association (BBRSDA) has partnered with leading national retailers and chefs to raise awareness about Bristol Bay sockeye, about the commercial fishing families who harvest the world largest salmon run, and about the threat to their businesses posed by the proposed Pebble Mine.
Fisherman Matt Marinkovich has run a fishing boat in Bristol Bay since 1993. “In all those years this is the largest, most far-reaching effort I've seen to connect Bristol Bay fishermen directly with retailers and top chefs, and really educate consumers about the amazing fish we catch here. This is the world’s greatest food, and it’s about time American consumers heard about it!”
The proposed Pebble Mine threatens critical salmon spawning and rearing habitat in the headwaters of Bristol Bay. Starting this month, over 3,200 retailers will be promoting Bristol Bay sockeye at their seafood counters with custom point of sale materials urging customers “to protect wild salmon for the future by eating one today.” Promotional materials include posters, recipe cards, stickers, ice-spears and brochures.
Meanwhile, 80 top restaurants across the country are hosting a rolling wave of dinner events featuring Bristol Bay sockeye. Chefs are showcasing their creativity and commitment to Bristol Bay with events ranging from one-night special tasting menus and month-long specials to ‘dinner and a movie’ screenings of the Bristol Bay documentary, Red Gold. These events were coordinated in partnership with Chef’s Collaborative a national network that educates seafood buyers and chefs about sustainable seafood.
Chef Kevin Davis of Seattle’s Blueacre Seafood is one of the participating chefs. “I am a huge fan of Bristol Bay sockeye. This is a beautiful fish, we love to serve it, and it is a crime against nature that anyone would consider building a copper mine where these fish reproduce year after year.”
BBRSDA Executive Director Bob Waldrop emphasized the connection between sustainable salmon and sustainable jobs. “We have two messages, really – two goals. First, we want people to understand that thousands of independently owned fishing businesses are involved in this highly successful and completely sustainable salmon fishery. We are proud beyond words to be the current stewards of this amazing natural resource. And second, that Bristol Bay’s salmon runs and our livelihoods are under direct threat from a large-scale copper mine that can still be stopped. We need people to be aware of that and we need them to take action.”
On June 30, the EPA closed its second public comment period regarding the latest draft of its risk assessment of large-scale open-pit mining in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska. Specifically addressed in the assessment are the likely scenarios that would result from the realization of the yet-to-be formally proposed but heavily researched and planned Pebble Mine at the headwaters of the Nushagak and Kvichak Rivers, the two most prolific wild salmon rivers in the world.
Earthworks confirmed that more than 100 jewelers, representing more than $6 billion in annual sales, have pledged their support to protect Alaska’s Bristol Bay from the proposed Pebble Mine. The jewelers have either issued comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or signed the Bristol Bay Protection Pledge citing Earthworks' findings that the gold and copper mine would destroy the world’s largest wild salmon fishery in the area. The EPA extended its public comment period on the Pebble Mine until June 30.
The battle lines are being drawn for what is becoming one of America's largest natural-resources fights in decades, pitting the mining industry against defenders of a way of life and an economy that are inextricably linked to one of the United States' most intact and productive ecosystems.
Alaska and Washington, children of a common ancestor.
Long before Alaska gained statehood in 1959, Washington was economically and politically hitched to the last wilderness. When Sen. Warren Magnuson was defeated in 1980, the joke was given expression: Alaska had just lost its third senator, folks said.
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