A unique collaboration between TU-AK and a group of Seattle chefs helped put fresh Bristol Bay sockeye salmon on the plates of Seattle diners last summer and again in November during an event called "Savor Bristol Bay." The goal was to raise consumer awareness about the threat that salmon face from the proposed Pebble Mine. More than a dozen members of the Seattle Chefs Collaborative featured the bright red salmon on their restaurant menus, including Kevin Davis of Steelhead Diner, a renowned eatery in the heart of Pike Place Market (shown in photo along with Chef de Cuisine Tony Polizzi (left.)
"In light of the salmon fishery closures and low returns along the West Coast this summer, it's now more important than ever that the salmon marketplace come together to protect the robust wild salmon fisheries we still have left, such as Bristol Bay.," said Davis.
Up to 70 million wild salmon return to the Bristol Bay watershed each summer, making it our nation's largest and most valuable wild salmon fishery. The fishery employs over 4,000 people each year, grossing some $300 million annually. It also sustains thousands of Alaska Native tribal members who live in the remote region and rely on Bristol Bay's salmon for sustenance as well as cultural purposes.
"Seafood lovers need to know about what's happening up in Bristol Bay. The salmon that come from this region are superb not only in terms of taste, but in nutrition as well. With wild salmon disappearing around the globe, we need to protect the Bristol Bay resource and one of the best ways to do that is through consumer education," said Seth Caswell, President of Seattle Chefs Collaborative and Chef/Owner of Emmer&Rye, opening this summer. "Chefs can have a powerful influence on consumers and play not only the role of provider, but educator as well."
"Savor Bristol Bay" garnered intense media attention in November after Pebble advocate and former Alaska House Speaker Gail Phillips called for a boycott of the Seattle restaurants serving Bristol Bay salmon. Phillips' remarks went viral after Seattle food blogger Ron Holden questioned Phillips' sanity on two of his blogs.
"Seriously Ms. Phillips, are you nuts? Every single visitor and every single local knows Seattle is famous for salmon. Like it or leave it, salmon is at the heart of the Seattle's restaurant economy," Holden wrote. More than 100 national media outlets picked up the story, which TU-AK greatly appreciated.