Some 40 million sockeye salmon returned to Bristol Bay this past summer, just as they did in 2009. Even in years when fewer salmon return, it's almost a guarantee that several million will make it home to their natal rivers to lay and fertilize their eggs, miraculously beginning a new cycle of life. The salmon are a gift that keeps on giving, as long as the right conditions exist for them to thrive – with fresh, clean water and undisturbed habitat topping the list. Fortunately in Bristol Bay, these prime conditions are intact and will continue to produce copious salmon runs, as long as the balance isn't tipped. If Pebble gets built, all that could change and much could be lost. An entire way of life squandered for short-term gains.
Several of Trout Unlimited Alaska's staff and contractors are commercial fishermen who work the waters of Bristol Bay every summer. One of them is Melanie Brown, a lifelong Alaskan who is a set net fisherman in the Naknek River district of Bristol Bay along with her children, her parents and her extended family. After this summer's fishing season, Melanie took a moment to reflect on what fishing means to her. Read More.
Here are some of her thoughts:
"Another season in Bristol Bay has come and gone. Another year of the tides replacing the time of the clock. Ebb and flow, in and out, breathe, pulse, set, pull, and pick. Elemental strength of nature harnessed within the objects of our harvest. They come in droves and sometimes it seems as if they are driving the tide instead of riding it in to their river of origin.
These are the things that make each year of fishing in Bristol Bay sometimes indistinguishable from one year to the next if you stack enough years on top of one another. This is what brings us back year after year. We who participate in this harvest partake of not only a shared experience of the present, but of a pre-historic past. The salmon remind us of how strong we can be when we sometimes forget and I pray that this collective experience will continue far into our futures.
I support the Environmental Protection Agency using its authority under section 404c of the Clean Water Act to protect Bristol Bay. I ask that you do the same."