Restaurants join fight to protect Bristol Bay salmon

The original article below was published in The Puget Sound Journal. Click here to view original post.

By: Glenn Drosendahl Contributing Writer

Jul 6, 2012, 2:51pm PDT Updated Jul 6, 2012, 4:17pm PDT


Food & Lifestyle

Kevin Davis is a chef who fishes. He cares deeply about wild fisheries, so much so that he has lobbied for them in Washington, D.C., and has made sustainability a founding concept for both of his Seattle restaurants, Blueacre Seafood and Steelhead Diner.

Now Davis is part of a national effort by restaurateurs and conservationists trying to stop a proposed mining operation in Southwest Alaska’s Bristol Bay, site of the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery.

The effort is called Savor Bristol Bay. More than 50 restaurants -- at least eight of them in Seattle -- are hoping to call attention to the issue by offering special meals or menu items using the bay’s freshly caught fish.

Blueacre Seafood will have “The Last Wild Salmon Dinner,” a five-course meal with wine pairings, on July 11. Davis says the name was intended to get people to think about the issue.

“During the wild fish season, we love to use them and eat them,” he said about Bristol Bay salmon, “but the more important thing is what Bristol Bay means to the worldwide food web… It’s truly a renewable and self-replenishing food source. It’s just an amazing resource. We need to be sure it remains unspoiled.”

Pebble Limited Partnership has proposed an open-pit gold and copper mining complex that would span 20 square miles at the headwaters of the bay’s most productive salmon rivers. Such large-scale mining would destroy dozens of miles of salmon streams and thousands of acres of wetland habitat, according to a report by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Opponents say the proposed Pebble Mine would be devastating for Bristol Bay’s salmon.

As Davis puts it, “Hard-rock mining and salmon don’t go together.”

For meals at both of his restaurants, including the July 11 dinner, Davis is buying sockeye directly from Iliamna Fish Company, an extended family of native Alaskan fishermen who have been catching Bristol Bay salmon for more than 60 years.

Among the other Seattle restaurants participating are Local 360 in Seattle's Belltown, which is planning a July 24 Savor Bristol Bay dinner prepared by former Crave chef Robin Leventhal. Ray’s Boathouse in the Shilshole area will offer a special three-course meal from July 30 to August 5.

Those offering Bristol Bay sockeye on their menus for the next few weeks include Cedarbrook LodgeGrand Central BakeryPike Brewing Company and Skillet Diner.

The Savor Bristol Bay project was created by the national coldwater fisheries conservation group Trout Unlimited in partnership with Chefs Collaborative and the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association.

GLENN DROSENDAHL blogs about restaurants, chefs and food for the Puget Sound Business Journal. Email: | Twitter: GDrose | Click here to sign up for the PSBJ Daily Update