Even though it is a culinary buzzword these days, sustainability has been a driving force in Alaska’s fishing industry since statehood.
When Alaska joined the Union in 1959, the state’s founding fathers were steadfastly committed to protecting and preserving one of the region’s most precious resources. In fact, the state constitution states that “fish…be utilized, developed and maintained on the sustained yield principle.” Translation: Alaska’s salmon fisheries are sustainable – it’s the law.
A true commitment to preservation and protection requires more than buzzwords, however. It requires a continuous commitment of time, resources, science-based research, and close enforcement of rules. Indeed, all of those things are practiced and demonstrated during the frenetic weeks of the Bristol Bay sockeye run. In Bristol Bay, where hundreds of generations have relied on salmon, the commercial fishery is still managed for future generations.
Bristol Bay’s abundant wild salmon populations are no coincidence. They are a result of several key factors, including high quality habitat and sustainable fishery management. Due to its remote location, much of Bristol Bay remains untouched by human development and resource extraction, allowing local salmon populations and other native wildlife to exist and thrive as they have for thousands of years.
Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game carefully monitors and manages Bristol Bay’s salmon, with fishery biologists and fishery managers working together to set escapement goals and harvest targets that will ensure healthy future populations. Their efforts have resulted in Bristol Bay becoming an international model of sustainable fishery management.
Protecting the Resource
The proposed Pebble Mine project has the potential to dramatically impact Bristol Bay’s salmon fishery and the surrounding region. The BBRSDA believes that large scale mining development in the Bristol Bay watershed does not align with the Association’s core purpose; to raise the economic value of the fishery. We must therefore oppose such development until it can be proven that the value of the fishery will not be diminished by the proposed development.
The BBRSDA’s full policy statement is available here.