May 10, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Consumers gain voice in wild salmon and steelhead conservation
National campaign urges consumers to ‘vote with their forks’ in order to protect wild runs of ocean-going fish
PORTLAND, Ore.—Trout and salmon conservation group Trout Unlimited recently launched an aggressive national campaign intended to marshal the buying power of consumers and salmon businesses together to form a powerful new lobby to leverage the types of habitat and management actions necessary to ensure healthy, wild and fishable runs of Pacific salmon and steelhead from California to Alaska to Idaho.
“As we talked to consumers around the country who love wild salmon and the chefs, fishermen and other businesses-owners who recognize their value, we realized that both consistently understand the habitat and management needs that make the remarkable experience of enjoying wild salmon and steelhead possible,” said TU Pacific Salmon Director Jeff Curtis. “Taken as a whole, all of those people pulling in the same direction—and spending their dollars accordingly—makes for some pretty substantial horsepower.”
The cornerstone of the new campaign is the “Salmon Consumer’s Bill of Rights and Responsibilities, an online petition which lists the 10 conservation actions TU deems necessary to work in combination to bring about lasting wild salmon and steelhead recovery, ranging from free-flowing rivers to maximum legal protections for depleted stocks to reform of the offshore salmon farms in British Columbia and Washington state. Wild steelhead, prized by sport anglers, are generally not targeted by commercial fishing but are broadly affected by salmon management decisions, and rely on much of the same habitat.
Consumers who care about wild salmon and steelhead are urged to log on to www.whywild.org and “sign” the bill of rights. Trout Unlimited will then use the power of those numbers to influence businesses, industry and decision-makers into spending and business practices as well as conservation decisions that favor long-term wild salmon recovery. In just its first few days, the Bill of Rights garnered nearly 5,000 electronic signatures.
“What we are finding more and more in these protracted discussions about salmon and steelhead is that when you’re able to add positive new voices to the dialogue, or get different people talking who don’t normally do so, you start to uncover more creative opportunities to solve problems and reach durable solutions,” said Chuck Bonham, TU California Director.
“Whether you enjoy wild salmon on your plate, on a rod and reel or just having them in the rivers, the important part is understanding what makes that whole experience possible,” said Tim Bristol, TU Alaska Director. “The more people who understand what we have in Alaska, the more we can get done to protect our great fishing here, and to use what we know to restore it elsewhere along the Pacific coast.”
Key partners in the campaign are the restaurants and retailers which sell salmon, and the fishing businesses which provide it. This week, Trout Unlimited hosted, along with conservation groups Earthjustice and Save Our Wild Salmon, a reception in Washington, D.C., with prominent chefs from the Northwest and Northeast, fishermen from Alaska and Washington, and salmon retailers and wholesalers from Oregon and California. The “Vote with Your Fork” reception was hosted by a bi-partisan group of five members of Congress and salmon champions from Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California and Maryland.
The phrase “Vote with Your Fork” was coined by one of the event’s star chefs, Greg Higgins of Higgins Restaurant and Bar in Portland, Ore. His comments appear in the foreword of a wild salmon recipe/conservation booklet called “Have your Salmon & Eat it Too” produced last year by Trout Unlimited (also downloadable at www.whywild.org).
“Ironically the most significant thing we can do to protect our wild salmon is to make them our favorite,” Higgins writes. “If we fail as consumers to demand wild salmon as our fish of choice they will soon be replaced in the marketplace by inferior chemically-laden farm-raised Atlantic salmon. Wild salmon conservation and management programs will diminish as a priority and the wild salmon populations will begin to disappear as well.”
“Salmon is big business and we as consumers control the purse strings – remember to vote with your fork.”