Last week, over the course of seven public hearings, Alaskans' message to the EPA was crystal clear: finalize the determination and protect Bristol Bay. In fact, nearly 1,000 Alaskans attended and 3 out of 4 spoke in favor of protecting Bristol Bay. But the fight is not over, and EPA still needs to hear from you. If you have not yet done so, please tell the EPA to issue protections for Bristol Bay, Alaska by clicking here.
In the meantime, here is the next of our, "Voices from Bristol Bay" series to show you why we are working so hard to protect this unique place.
Name: Melanie Brown
Affiliation: Alaska Native and commercial fisherwoman
Why do you love Bristol Bay? I love it because of the way that it pulls people back together as the fish return to it year after year to fulfill their life cycles. My family is reunited each year and we are able to see our old friends who are drawn back to the Bay.
What is your best fishing memory on the bay? Some of my best memories have to do with my Great Grandparents who were born and raised in the Bristol Bay region. It is because of them that I have a rooted connection to the Naknek River that ties us so deeply to the salmon. My Umma, Anna Chukan, babysat my sisters and I until we were old enough to begin commercial fishing with our Mother, Katherine Brown, and our Granpappy, Paul Chukan. She always made sure that she had good food waiting for us when we returned from fishing and more often than not the food consisted of salmon. My Grandpa was still fishing when I started and I have an especially sweet memory of picking fish with him on a big day. As our work continued my fish picking improved detectably and my Grandpa’s pride in me was something that I felt in a very special way. I understand this in an even more profound way now that I have children of my own who are beginning to be part of the fishery.
What is your fear if Pebble Mine is built? I fear that, if the Pebble Mine is built, we will see rapid and drastic changes in our fishing industry because consumer perception of our salmon will undermine the marketability of our product. I also believe that if the mine is built that there will be a major disaster that will cause irreparable harm to the habitat that supports our runs, be it sooner or later. The thing that I most fear is the salmon ceasing to return and how drastically that will change the lives of the people who love and depend on them. The salmon of Bristol Bay have supported our family for thousands of years and I want my children and our descendants to always know the wonder and goodness of the salmon.
What do you want people from the lower 48 to know about Bristol Bay? We have the last great run of wild salmon in the world in Bristol Bay and it is a resource that provides for people far and wide. If you love salmon, please take action by commenting to the EPA.