How do you know the fishery is sustainable?
One of the main questions we field at our wild salmon company both during and following the season is: is your catch sustainable? Usually followed by: how do you know?
We are happy that more and more of our customers are asking this important question as they shop online directly from the fishermen, like at Pride of Bristol Bay, or even at their local fish counter. Our first answer is a resounding: yes! And the second is: science.
Thankfully, the regulations protecting salmon and their watershed have been in place for many years. For a real in-depth dive into the life-cycle, conservation and significance of Alaska’s wild salmon, check out this great pamphlet by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Wild salmon protection was written into the Alaska state constitution upon its founding and continues to be upheld by coastal communities and politicians across the state. The biologists limit the fishermen’s allocation by controlling the length and timing of the fishing openings, the size of the gillnet, and the requirements to report species and amounts harvested. Check out the opener announcements here, for example. You’ll notice that the biologist is clear about specific areas and short windows of time in which the fishermen’s nets are permitted to be in the water.
The KDLG is the community radio station in this unique, far-away location. During the summer, the Bristol Bay Fisheries Report projects these numbers to the fleet three times daily. The F/V Ava Jane crew was waiting anxiously by the radio after “splashing” the boat for a few days at 9am, 12pm, 3pm and 6pm, waiting for their first announcement of the season.
The biologists record their announcements and send them to the radio station for broadcast. Because of the limited cell-service and almost no data in the bay, the radio is a crucial part of not only fisheries conservation but survival in the watershed. Weather and other important announcements are shared via radio waves to the fleet.
This elaborate process, and the community and fleet wide goal of meeting escapement, is where our confidence in sustainability comes from. All Bristol Bay fishermen honor these regulations because we understand that it’s up to us to participate in the conservation of our livelihood and the ecosystem in which it takes place.
We are outdoor lovers who feel lucky to bring this wild, amazing natural protein to our customers across the U.S. It is an honor to work within this unique ecosystem and protect the fishery while participating in it. After 20 years of fishing in the bay, it is hard to imagine life without a strong salmon run, and our goal is to not have to.