Salmon in Bristol Bay

This month’s Ocean Watch Essay comes from The Nature Conservancy in Alaska.

Salmon Fishing at Flounder Flats

Sailing off Flounder Flats, Nushagak Bay ca 1935. Photo by Dave Carlson, Dave and Mary Carlson Collection, Samuel K. Fox Museum. Dillingham, Alaska.

Did you know that sailboats were used to fish for salmon in Alaska’s Bristol Bay until 1950. This fishery,  now in it’s 128th year of commercial fishing, remains without question the greatest wild salmon run on Earth.

The key to success? Sustainability – from the pristine environment surrounding the area to the carefully managed fish stock rated as a “best choice” by he Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch list.

Commercial fishing in Bristol Bay.

Commercial fishing in Bristol Bay.

The Nature Conservancy began protecting fish and wildlife habitat here in the early 1990s. Looming mine proposals continue to threaten this amazing region. Protection has been done largely through land purchases & conservation easements. In recent years, The Nature Conservancy has built a research program aimed at collecting the baseline data necessary for assessing the resource at risk from large-scale development.

What Can You Do?

  • Read the full essay for a better understanding.
  • Contribute to The Nature Conservancy’s efforts to protect habitat in the region.
  • Support ocean conservation by making a donation to Sailors for the Sea.
  • Support a sustainable wild salmon fishery: Ask for wild sockeye salmon from Bristol Bay when you buy fish
  • Discover Bristol Bay, its communities and wildlife in a compelling new hour-long episode of PBS Frontline,“Alaska Gold.”
  • Stay tuned to the progress of an EPA watershed assessment of Bristol Bay now underway.
  • Read “Sailing for Salmon: The Early Years of Commercial Fishing in Alaska’s Bristol Bay, 1884-1951.” This 60-page volume features essays, oral history, and historic photographs and is available in pdf by clicking here.
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