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.

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.

Bristol Bay Forecast

2019 Bristol Bay Forecast!

Bristol Bay Forecast

What to Expect

A total of 40.18 million sockeye salmon are expected to return to Bristol Bay in 2019. This is 10% fewer than the most recent 10-year average of Bristol Bay total runs (44.4 million) while being 16% greater than the long-term (1963–2018) average of 34.2 million fish. All systems are expected to meet their spawning escapement goals (the amount of a salmon population that does not get caught by commercial or recreational fisheries and return to their freshwater spawning habitat).

The outlook for 2019 is looking to be very promising for another successful harvest. These great return years are what allows us to bring wild caught, sockeye salmon, directly to your door at a reasonable price per pound. While we are still reaping the benefits of the 2018 harvest, we are certainly looking forward to the 2019 season in Alaska.

Slow Food Hosts

Slow Food Hosts the Second Annual WyoAlaska Salmon Stock-up

A salmon dinner at the People’s Market and an opportunity to order sustainable wild Alaskan salmon delivered direct to Jackson
September 13, 4-7PM
At the base of Snow King during the People’s Market

Slow Food in the Tetons will host a salmon stock up event to help the community buy wild sustainable net-to-table sockeye salmon direct from an Alaskan fisherman. Slow Food works with a small family business called Pride of Bristol Bay to deliver bulk salmon to Jackson.

Locals should attend the People’s Market on September 13th between 4-7pm to place an order for frozen salmon that is delivered straight from Alaska. While at the market, enjoy a grilled salmon dinner to support Slow Food in the Tetons prepared by Slow Food staff and volunteers.

“The fleet of Bristol Bay fishermen harvest wild sockeye salmon and are fiercely dedicated to the very highest quality standards at every point of harvest and delivery.” Matt Luck of Pride of Bristol Bay.

The salmon pick-up will take place on September 23rd between 10am- 4pm at the Jackson Whole Grocer. The day before the salmon pickup, on September 22nd, the Jackson Hole Grocer will host a $5 salmon lunch also to benefit Slow Food in the Tetons.

“Our aim to help bring good quality food to our community while supporting sustainable food production. We feel fortunate to be working with Matt Luck and Pride of Bristol Bay again this year to bring in wild sustainable sockeye salmon at a good price” says Scott Steen Executive Director for Slow Food in the Tetons.

Pride of Bristol Bay is deeply involved in efforts to protect a Bristol Bay, a world-class pristine fishery and ecosystem from extractive industries that pose a series and eminent threat to its health and wellbeing and to the way of life of the people who depend on this resource.

Learn more about Pride of Bristol Bay at https://prideofbristolbay.com/
Learn more about Slow Food in the Teton at tetonslowfood.org
Learn more about threats to Bristol Bay and the Pebble Mine at www.savebristolbay.org

Contact:
Scott Steen
Executive Director
scott@tetonslowfood.org

Pride of Bristol Bay

SAVOR BRISTOL BAY | SAVE BRISTOL BAY

Simply put, Bristol Bay is an amazing place. We are back on terra firma and the 2017 fishing season has come to an end. The river systems in Bristol Bay are literally teeming with spawning wild Sockeye Salmon. Combined, the major river systems; Naknek, Kvichak, Alagnak, Ugashik, Egegik, Wood and Nushagak rivers have close to 19 million Sockeye digging redds, depositing eggs and milt, carrying out a natural cycle that that has been repeated year after year for centuries.

SAVOR BRISTOL BAY SAVE BRISTOL BAY

Photo Credit: Bob Waldrop

The fishing season itself was glorious, exciting, hectic, frenzied and downright exhausting. Every year the Sockeye enter Bristol Bay in a different pattern and this year was no exception. At one point in early July there was a 4-day period during which the cumulative daily catch and escapement into the river systems exceeded 3 million fish! To put this in perspective; the total catch and escapement for the entire Copper River Sockeye salmon fishery for the 2017 season was around 1.4 million fish. 59 million wild Sockeye returned to Bristol Bay.

Bristol Bay

Photo Credit: Bob Waldrop

At Pride of Bristol Bay our message to all wild salmon lovers is; Savor Bristol Bay and Save Bristol Bay. This year’s wild sockeye fillets and portions are as beautiful as ever. Whether you fill your freezer through one of our buying clubs or have our Bristol Bay Sockeye delivered to your door when we launch our home delivery program this September, every pound of wild salmon we sell will generate a donation to the Save Bristol Bay campaign. The campaign raises awareness, educates and advocates for one of the world’s greatest cold water fishery habitats on behalf of me, you and every stakeholder. So, when your Savoring our wild Sockeye fresh off the grill, don’t take that privilege for granted, and when dinner’s over take a minute and visit www.savebristolbay.org and learn how you can help keep this amazing resource healthy and robust for generations to come.

Photo Credit: Bob Waldrop