I've spent the last 30 years building a family business around the Bristol Bay, Alaska, salmon fishery, making the aluminum boats that fishermen use to harvest fish from the world's greatest sockeye salmon run.
While southwestern Alaska may seem far off, many people in Washington state understand the deep economic ties between Bristol Bay and the Puget Sound. Just recently, a new economic report produced by the University of Alaska found that the Bristol Bay salmon fishery is worth $1.5 billion in total value and produces nearly 6 percent of all U.S. seafood export value. The fishery employs more than 12,000 people in fishing and processing, concentrated most heavily in Alaska, Washington and Oregon. And another nearly 8,000 jobs across the country are tied to the fishery in industries like grocery retailing, canning, warehousing and restaurants.
All of this economic bounty comes from the world's largest sockeye salmon run, which averages 37 million fish a year and feeds people around the globe.
To me, the numbers in the economic report aren't just statistics. I first started building aluminum gillnet boats in 1978, and I worked hard to build All American Marine. Although I sold the company last year, it employs 50 people, and my new business, Strongback Metal Boats, now employs seven people.
But, the jobs and revenue of Bristol Bay don't stop at my employees and what they spend in Whatcom County. To build our boats, we also order products and services from other vendors and specialists, ordering nuts and bolts and other parts, subcontracting electricians and hydraulic work, purchasing jet pumps from a supplier in Arkansas and engines from a Seattle vendor. Put another way, a lot of people and businesses are affected by one boat, and in the case of Bristol Bay, a rising tide lifts all boats. In Washington there are dozens of small businesses like my own that are tied to the Bristol Bay salmon fishery and directly support hundreds of skilled labor jobs.
Read the full story at Bellingham Herald>>
When the delegates to Alaska's Constitutional Convention gathered in Fairbanks during the cold November of 1955, they set out to craft what they knew would be an experimental document. Their work proved exceptional and has stood the test of time — our constitution expresses Alaskan values, imbued with the concept of an owner-state and mandated development of Alaska's resources.
In many ways, Alaska was — and still is — a grand experiment. But our founding mothers and fathers would almost certainly not approve of the ways in which Alaska's resources are now being experimented with, turning our valuable fishing and mining industries into a Petri dish for foreign developers to test their new technologies.
Before we go any further, let's be clear: We are lifelong conservatives. Mark works an oil job on the North Slope, and Doug is a year-round commercial fisherman and mariner working both in the fisheries and in the oil industry. We both fish Bristol Bay in the summers and are passionately pro-responsible development. Heck, Mark's snowmachined the Iron Dog three times and Doug has been working on offshore oil exploration in the Arctic for the last four years. Let's put it this way, we both drive pickup trucks and don't hug trees. We're proud of that. And we are also proud to oppose Pebble Mine.
Raising our families in Alaska, we understand the need for a stable economic future here. The future of our state depends on good decision-making now.
The Bristol Bay fishery supports a rich culture and directly employs some 14,000-plus individuals. In fact, Alaska's fisheries collectively remain the largest employer in the state — creating even more jobs than our crucial oil and gas industry. Our fisheries are the envy of the world. A recent study showed an annual input into the American economy of $1.5 billion dollars from Bristol Bay. With Pebble's suggested 50-to-100-year extraction scenario, it's proposed development creates a large risk with little return for our state and our nation.
Read the full story at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner>>
Coursing through vast reaches of Alaskan tundra, glacial lakes and emerald forests, six major river systems converge along the rim of the Bering Sea to form the crystalline waters of Bristol Bay, the richest wild salmon grounds in the world.
Yet if three global mining giants get their way, this region — one of the last truly wild places in our country — could be destroyed.
Each year, up to 40 million sockeye salmon make the journey from deep ocean waters into Bristol Bay and, from there, upstream to spawn in the inland shallows of their birth. The salmon provide food for brown bears, bald eagles and wolves. And they're the centerpiece of sustenance and culture for native peoples who have lived there for thousands of years.
Here, amid this rich web of life, is where Pebble Limited Partnership (Anglo American, Northern Dynasty Minerals and Rio Tinto) want to dig one of the largest open-pit gold and copper mines in the world.
The Obama administration must put a stop to this exploitative and misguided scheme.
Read the full story at Los Angeles Times>>
Four years ago, a disgruntled contractor for opponents of a proposed Pebble mine sold insider emails, donor lists, bank records and other information to the Pebble Partnership for $50,000, an arbitrator found -- setting in motion a chain of upheaval in the epic political war over the huge gold and copper prospect.
On behalf of my fellow Bristol Bay fishermen, past and present, I would like to issue a friendly challenge to the Pebble Limited Partnership, and specifically its Chief Executive Officer, John Shively. But first, let's review a few things that we know about the Bristol Bay watershed and the proposed Pebble Mine:
The Clatsop County Democrats recently passed a resolution to support the Environmental Protection Agency's Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment, which documents destructive impacts and further risks from the contentious plans to build North America's largest open-pit mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Clatsop County is home to more than one-third of Oregon's 2,100 Bristol Bay commercial fishermen, more than any other county in the state.
Alaska's Bristol Bay is the most lucrative wild salmon fishery in the world, worth an estimated $1.5 billion according to a new study released by the University of Alaska Anchorage's Institute for Social and Economic Research.
Kevin McCambly was born and raised in Dillingham, Alaska, just downstream from the proposed Pebble Mine, a massive copper and gold mining project that is pitting corporate interests against commercial fisherman, conservationists and local residents. Last week, he and many others demanded answers from Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) at a town hall meeting in Anchorage.
On April 26, 2013, more than 300 leading scientists sent a letter to the White House expressing "deep concerns" about the prospect of large-scale mining in the Bristol Bay watershed of Southwest Alaska, home to the world's largest wild salmon runs. The action comes as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) releases for public comment a revised draft assessment on watershed impacts of what could be North America's largest mine.
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National Fisherman Live: 8/14/14
In this episode:
National Fisherman Live: 8/5/14
In this episode, National Fisherman's Boats & Gear Editor Michael Crowley talks with Frances Parrott about the Notus Dredgemaster.