Bristol Bay Alaska

Wheels Up: Bristol Bay Bound

Captain Steve spent last week in Naknek, Alaska, the F/V Ava Jane’s winter home. This time of year, the boatyard is crawling out of its winter hibernation. In a month, it will be bustling with activity, especially at high tide, as boat after boat gets launched into the bay in order to start fishing.

Steve wanted to get a head start on a few boat projects, so he headed up early, to prepare on a quiet boatyard, where he can get some work done, instead of visiting with the whole fleet at the cannery Mug-Up. To get a taste of the tundra landscape at the coastal Bristol Bay boatyard days, check out this video that Filson made in the Dillingham boatyard last year.  

As of recently, the overall state forecast for wild Alaska salmon is exceptional: experts predict a catch of 213.2 million fish statewide. In Bristol Bay, the 2018 season broke records – the sockeye salmon harvest was 10% above predictions and the largest seen on record. Last year will be a tough year to beat. However, experts are still predicting historically large returns following a banner year, and a 2019 forecast of 40.18 million sockeye returning to Bristol Bay. This is still 16% above the average run (1963-2018). Most importantly, the Alaska Department of Fish & Game predictions expect “all [Bristol Bay river systems] to meet their spawning escapement goals,” meaning that the health of the overall run and ecosystem is looking sustainably strong. We are thrilled.

No matter the forecast, the pre-season work remains the same. The boatyard is waking up, and the salmon are heading back to their original spawning grounds. The Pride of Bristol Bay team is getting ready to fish!

May 2019 Pebble Mine Update

This week we are celebrating a small victory in the fight against Pebble Mine! Thanks to the efforts of many individuals, the public comment period has been extended an extra 30 days!

At Pride of Bristol Bay, we believe it is essential to celebrate the small victories within this fight of our lives to protect Bristol Bay. The whole Bristol Bay community– you included!– now has until June 29th to collect as many signatures as we can to tell the Army Corps of Engineers that their Draft EIS statement is insufficient and send a strong signal that we believe in the environmental sustainability of Bristol Bay. You can do that right now, click here!

Significantly, this is also encouraging news coming from the Alaska Senatorial offices of Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, who have both been previously wishy-washy on the Pebble Mine issue. It is hopeful that both have spoken out with this concern, and we will continue to pressure them to listen to the majority of their constituents during the next year or more of this process.

That being said, Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay (CFBB) are demanding more and calling this skinny 30-day extension a “slap in the face.” CFBB Representative and Dillingham resident Holly Wysocki shared the following in the Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay press release.

“An extra 30 days does nothing to change the fact that Pebble’s federal permitting process is fundamentally flawed, including a Draft EIS with unacceptable information gaps. There is not enough real substance in the Draft EIS to warrant this process moving forward any further, which is why Bristol Bay’s commercial fishermen continue to request that the Army Corps suspend this process until our questions and concerns are addressed,” said Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay representative and local resident Holly Wysocki. “We risk our lives fishing each summer in Bristol Bay; the least we deserve is a fair and rigorous permitting process.”

Learn more about Holly and her family in this video. We look forward to sharing more fishermen’s stories with you this spring and summer. Submit your comment today! Additionally, we have extended the sale of our Wildly Devoted Dinner Box. Order one today and join us in being Wildly Devoted. We threw a dinner party and had a great time – time to plan that June BBQ to bring friends and family together around this important issue. Eat well and bring meaning to your meal.

We Hosted A Party. Here’s What You Need to Know!

Hi there, I’m Candy, a wild salmon lover and a big supporter of Pride of Bristol Bay. As we talk about the threat of Pebble Mine, I’m not sure how you feel about it, but I would hope your thoughts mirror my feelings. The possibility of losing the world’s most beautiful and plentiful sockeye salmon watershed is terrifying. So, we told our friends about it. My husband and I then hosted 12 of our friends to talk about the threat of Pebble, as well as share the bounty of Bristol Bay, Alaska.

The feedback was unanimous, “Why is this even a thought?” We heard that question quite a few times throughout the evening. So, from the moment that our first friends showed up, to the moment the last friends left, we had a great evening of educating, discussing, and indulging.

The takeaway and the FAQ’s from the evening.

First, we heard that the smoked salmon and dip was the best our friends had ever had (Bravo, Captain Steve!). Then we heard that the salmon was the most flavorful, yet not over powering, salmon they had eaten. Not to mention the color blew most of them away. Generally speaking, everyone knew about the beauty of wild caught Alaskan sockeye salmon, but to experience it in the context of the Pebble threat really put it into perspective for most.

Second, we were being asked “what can we do to help?” That answer was simple, and you can do it as well. Visit savebristolbay.org to take action and sigh up for updates so that you’re in the know, and can spread the word among your friend groups.

Question 1: Why is this even conversation today? Savebristolbay.org explains it best!

Question 2: Why in Bristol Bay? Along with being a watershed plentiful with sockeye salmon, there are also precious metals in the land around Bristol Bay.

Question 3: What is the big deal? If Pebble receives their permit and breaks ground, it would pave the way for many other mines.

Question 4: Would this mine also impact the animals in the area? Yes, Bristol Bay is huge, and is home to numerous birds of prey, brown bears, and other fish. All of which would be impacted greatly by the mine.

Question 5: How can we get more of this delicious salmon that you cooked for us tonight? Visit prideofbristolbay.com and have the choice of ordering portions or fillets, delivered directly to your door.

To sum it up, your voice does matter! We were shocked by the engagement and knowledge from our friends about Pebble. Continue to spread the word and help us fight a battle worth fighting.

Buy your wildly devoted dinner box here.

Wildly Devoted Pride of Bristol Bay

With 2019 underway, Pride of Bristol Bay is celebrating another successful year of business. From the very beginning, we’ve prioritized sustainably fishing for sockeye salmon in beautiful Bristol Bay, AK, along with serving a growing, loyal community. We’ve also maintained the highest standards for selling salmon and other high-quality seafood. It has been an honor and a privilege to share Pride of Bristol Bay with our customers.

Strengthening alongside our business is our devotion to wild salmon and the pristine environment that supports them. From the original trip to Alaska on a whim — to agreeing to captain a boat, to getting a permit, and finally acquiring the F/V Ava Jane – we have always understood that investing in the fishery is equally as important to invest in the environment. But beyond passion, conservation of the environment is also driven by economics. Fishing in Bristol Bay demonstrates the area’s worth, and protecting this sacred space is of utmost importance.

“PEOPLE TAKE FOR GRANTED THE AMAZING RENEWABLE RESOURCE OF WILD SALMON AND CLEAN WATER. WITH THE RISE OF THE PEBBLE MINE PROJECT, THE NEED TO PROTECT WILD SALMON HABITAT IS AT ITS MOST CRITICAL POINT IN MODERN TIMES.” -STEVE KURIAN

We are grateful for what the salmon and Bristol Bay have given us, and we are Wildly Devoted to this cause.

“IT MEANS MORE TO US THAN JUST OUR LIVELIHOOD, SO GIVING BACK THROUGH RAISING BOTH MONEY AND AWARENESS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING WE CAN DO RIGHT NOW.” -JENN KURIAN

Through our Wildly Devoted program, Pride of Bristol Bay has been committed in giving back. We will continue to donate 1% of total sales to our friends at Trout Unlimited who are dedicated to preserving the Bay and advocating against projects, like Pebble Mine.

“After years of catching and selling salmon to wonderful customers, I know these people would want nothing more than to play a critical part in protecting the fish that nourish our body and souls. I hope this idea catches on and encourages fishermen, processors, and consumers to take action and donate to the protection of wild salmon habitat.” -Steve Kurian

From all of us at Pride of Bristol Bay, we thank you for your support, and for being Wildly Devoted alongside us.

Bristol Bay

FEATURED ARTICLE: My Search for the World’s Best Salmon

By, John O’Connor with Gene Food

In light of the very real concerns about the farming methods used to raise most of the “Atlantic Salmon” you find in the grocery stores (and on restaurant menus), how can consumers find salmon they can trust?

I did a little research to come up with some answers.

Bristol Bay is Your Place for Salmon

And as I read more about where the best US salmon comes from, Bristol Bay Alaska kept coming up again and again. Turns out Bristol Bay is fed by multiple relatively pristine river systems that are home to a number of wild salmon species. The region has been called the “crown jewel” of the American commercial fishing industry, and at least historically, the eco system is sustainable. Even accounting for the 61 million salmon it pulls from the region each year, the fishing industry in Bristol Bay doesn’t decimate the salmon population, they still make their way from the ocean to the rivers and streams where they were born to spawn and reproduce with enough fervor to keep the whole machine churning.4

It’s an incredible system for both the natives, who benefit from the 480 million in annual revenue, as well as the fish population, which has been protected to a degree from environmental encroachment. Unfortunately, Trump administration roll backs of previous EPA protections, could pave the way for a massive gold and copper mine in Bristol Bay that many believe would ruin one of America’s last great natural fisheries. The decision as to whether protections will be rescinded is pending before the EPA.5

The EPA published a massive document analyzing the state of the Bristol Bay fishing industry, complete with an estimation of the environmental impact of the proposed mine. I’ve dropped in some of the highlights below:

  • The Bristol Bay watershed supports large carnivore species which rely on salmon, such as brown bears and wolves.
  • All five species of Pacific salmon: sockeye, Chinook, coho, chum and pink, are living in Bristol Bay as are 29 other native fish species.
  • Of the 31 native Alaskan villages in the region, an estimated 25 depend on the salmon industry for their economic survival. Bristol Bay salmon is to Alaska what the car industry is to Detroit.

At the end of the day, I picked a company called the Pride of Bristol Bay for my order. I reached out to them direct for an informal interview and published the results from Steve, the owner of the operation, below. Can’t say the answers were all that insightful, but there are some nuggets here, especially as it pertains to water quality in Bristol Bay. Essentially, the waters, which are free of industry and always have been, are pristine, but that all changes once that copper mine goes in…

Click here for the full article from Gene Food.

Fed and Fit

Salmon with Sweet Cherry BBQ Sauce from Fed and Fit

  • Author: Cassy at Fed and Fit
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 14 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

For the Sweet Cherry BBQ Sauce:

  • 2 cups fresh pitted cherries
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For the salmon:

  • 1 large salmon filet, deboned
  • 1 cup fresh pitted cherries
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • fresh parsley, finely chopped, for garnish

Instructions

For the Sweet Cherry BBQ Sauce:

  1. Place the cherries, molasses, vinegar, and salt together in a small sauce pan. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes on low, or until the cherries have popped or softened in texture.
  2. Add the tomato sauce and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
  3. Using an immersion blender (or by pouring the sauce in a regular blender), blend the sauce until you reach a desired consistency.
  4. Season with the cayenne pepper.
  5. Note: if the sauce seems too thick, add a tablespoon of water until it reaches a consistency you’re happy with.

For the salmon:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Season the salmon with the sea salt and pepper, then place on the baking sheet.
  3. Spoon about half of the BBQ sauce over the salmon.
  4. Bake at 350 F for 14 – 16 minutes. Garnish with the fresh cherries and parsley.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Notes

The leftover BBQ sauce will keep stored in your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

For more salmon recipes click here, and for more recipes from Fed and Fit click here.