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We often say, “some places are too special to risk, Bristol Bay is one of them.” For anyone who has stepped a foot in the region, you know that “special” describes the feeling you get- that gnawing in your stomach, or the little voice in your head that tells you that you are in a place that doesn’t exist anywhere else on the planet. For others, “special” can be quantified. It’ home to millions of fish, some of largest brown bear populations and thousands of people who continue to live a subsistence lifestyle. For them, these facts make Bristol Bay inherently special.
After 2018 set the record for the largest sockeye salmon run in history, we were reminded of why Bristol Bay is special. Again, 2019 followed with another year of incredibly strong runs and a massive commercial harvest, proving once again, that southwest Alaska is a place like none other.
56.3 million salmon ran through Bristol Bay and commercial fishermen harvested 43 million fish. This was the fifth consecutive year that Bristol Bay saw runs with more than 50 million fish, which also fed trout populations sought by anglers worldwide. View the full fishery report here.
While salmon in other regions of Alaska saw tough conditions due to extremely warm waters, the resiliency of Bristol Bay salmon shows that with protected headwater habitat, they can continue to provide for the people and traditions of the region.
As Pebble continues to be pushed forward, the uniqueness and strength of the Bristol Bay fishery is even more important. As the most productive sockeye salmon fishery in North America, commercial fishing in Bristol Bay is a $1.5 billion industry employing over 14,000 people. The recreational fishery, bringing thousands of Alaskans and people from the Lower-48 to the region for a trip-of-a-lifetime fishing experience, adds $60 million to the local economy and employs over 1,000 people as guides, lodge workers, pilots and more.
Pebble doesn’t just threaten the fish, but the economies and people that are dependent on the region continuing as a powerhouse fishery and unique, wild landscape.
Our decision makers need to be reminded of what a special place Bristol Bay is. Please contact them and ask them to do everything in their power to stop Pebble today- for the people, the fish and resources that we all benefit from.