View from Alaska: Alaska’s global mission
National Fisherman by Hannah Lindoff - August 9, 2019
The strength of the Alaska seafood portfolio lies in our wide assortment of species and product forms. In 2018, Alaska produced more than 2.4 billion metric tons of seafood, more than all other U.S. states combined. We proudly offer some of the most expensive seafood in the world and also boast a high volume of good value products. At the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, the official seafood marketing arm for the state of Alaska, we often use the message, “We have something for everyone.”
Researchers look to reduce ‘ghost fishing’ in Alaska
KCAW by Katherine Rose - August 9, 2019
The Sitka Sound Science Center has a lot of irons in the fire when it comes to scientific research- in addition to their fisheries work, they’re conducting cutting edge landslide research and running a hatchery. One of the organization’s most recent endeavors may sound a little spooky, but for some of the ocean’s crustiest critters it’s an exciting development.
Climate change, hatchery competition spur developmental changes in Bristol Bay sockeye
KTUU by Grant Robinson - August 12, 2019
ALEKNAGIK, Alaska (KTUU) - Climate change is shifting the life cycle of sockeye salmon in Bristol Bay to spend less time in freshwater and more time at sea, and creating more competition between the wild stock and hatchery releases, according to new research by the University of Washington.
Labeling and Marketing
3MMI - The Haddock Market After Trump Imposed Tariffs
TradexFoods - August 12, 2019
It's a bewildering thought that a 10 percent US imposed tariff on China, turned into a 25 percent tariff, and now just seems normal. In the USA, demand for Haddock from foodservice seems to be non-existent. Indicators show there was enough Haddock inventories in the country until the beginning of 2019 but since then orders have practically come to a halt...
Ocean Beauty Seafoods Adds Industry Veteran Cheri Rhodes to Sales Team
Urner Barry by Amanda Buckle - August 9, 2019
Ocean Beauty Seafoods announced this week that they have hired Cheri Rhodes to join their team as Regional Sales Manager for the West Coast.
Rhodes is a seafood veteran with 14 years in the industry under her belt, having previously held sales positions at Slade Gorton and Sonoma Seafood. She most recently served as VP of Retail Sales at Tai Foong. Her new role with Ocean Beauty will require her to call on both retail and foodservice accounts.
"We are thrilled to welcome Cheri to our team," Ron Christianson, VP of Sales and Marketing for Ocean Beauty Seafoods, said in a press release. "Cheri has a passion for food, and it shows in her dedication to her customers. We look forward to her success at Ocean Beauty."
"Ocean Beauty is the perfect spot for me to put my skills and passions to work," Rhodes added. "I am really pleased to be working for a company with a strong commitment to quality, sustainability and customer service."
Wild Alaska Salmon Day Celebrates Link Between Fish, Humans, and Alaskan Culture
SeafoodNews.com by Peggy Parker - August 9, 2019
Tomorrow is the fourth annual Wild Alaska Salmon Day. Alaskans everywhere will be celebrating by eating, preserving, singing the praises of, fishing for, or otherwise being part of the season that celebrates Alaska's favorite seafood.
On May 8, 2016 Alaska’s then Governor Bill Walker signed the newest state holiday into law.
“Nearly all Alaskans are impacted by salmon in some way – whether through subsistence, recreational, or commercial fishing, or just sheer appreciation for Alaska's abundant wildlife,” Walker said as he signed the bill. “HB 128 is intended to celebrate these uniquely Alaskan ways of life, and share our appreciation for wild Alaskan salmon with the rest of the world.”
Six weeks later, the record-keeping biologists at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced that the second billionth wild sockeye had been caught on June 28, 2016. A symbolic salmon was selected from the hundreds of thousands caught that day, awarded to an 86-year-old longtime fisherman who delivered it to a processor who sent it to Walker in Juneau.
It took 95 years since commercial harvests started in the Bay in 1883 to catch the first billionth salmon in 1976, and only 38 years to reach the second billion. Someone has probably calculated when the third billionth will be landed, but the important point is the fishery is more controlled than it was in the 1970s, before limited entry, and far more understood than ever before. Scientists use DNA to identify components of each river system, ages of each run component are tracked, and more sophisticated models are taking into account some aspects of climate change.
Creating the holiday raised awareness of salmon’s importance, but the threat the eon’s old process of spawning in fresh water, swimming to the ocean and disappearing for two years or five years before returning to where we can see them again, might be disrupted that has caught the attention of the media outside of Alaska. In a world already changed by global warming, especially in Alaska, the annual salmon cycle was something everyone could rely on. Until there were anomalies that became trends, such as the scarcity of Chinook salmon that has been worrying scientists for years.
Perhaps even more significant than that has been the specter of Pebble Mine and the possibility that Bristol Bay’s iconic salmon run could be irrepairably damaged, that has captured the most media.
In 2017, CNN noted that “56 million sockeye salmon swam hundreds of miles from the ocean toward the rivers and streams of the Bristol Bay watershed” and “Nearly half of the world's sockeye catch comes from this one region, which is one of the last, great salmon fisheries on Earth. The returning salmon and other ecological resources create some 14,000 full- and part-time jobs, generate about $480 million annually -- and support 4,000-year-old Alaska Native cultures.”
CNN was reporting on a meeting between Northern Dynasty, a Canadian company that was involved in Pebble Mine in the fall of 2017, and former Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt regarding a reversal of Obama-era protections for Bristol Bay. That reversal happened last week to the dismay of many fishery scientists who have studied the region for decades.
One of them was Thomas Quinn, a professor at the University of Washington who has been studying fish in Bristol Bay for 30 years. He was interviewed by CNN in 2017.
"This is the jewel in the crown of America's fisheries resources, this salmon," Quinn told CNN. "If you don't think this is worth saving, what is? If you don't think that (a gold and copper mine) is going to constitute a threat, what would? To me, if you don't draw a line in the sand here, there's none to be drawn anywhere. You're saying that no resource, no matter how valuable, is off-limits to development -- no matter how obviously deleterious.”
The State of Alaska’s Salmon and People (SASAP) website was launched July 29, 2019, two weeks before Wild Alaska Salmon Day. It includes “the first-ever knowledge and data web portal about the 10,000-year-long relationship between Alaska’s people and salmon, including new insights into factors that are supporting or undermining that relationship today.”
“Alaskans remain extraordinarily connected to salmon, but they are not well connected to the science and data that informs the management decisions that impact their lives. A key goal of [the project] has been to level the playing field and give access to salmon-related data to all. By better connecting Alaskans with salmon science and data, they can feel more empowered to be active participants in decision-making,” said Peter Westley, lead SASAP scientist and a professor of salmon ecology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Wild. Alaska. Salmon. A creature who is the essence of wild, covering thousands of nautical miles feeding, dodging predators, then returning to the stream it left five years before to stop eating at the first whiff of fresh water and live on its body fat as it swims upriver, against the current for hundreds or a thousand miles, past the brown bear claws and human traps to finally spawn, then die in the shallow rills of the Salmon Mountains, its carcass feeding the Canadian forest, or the tundra and muskeg in Alaska's Interior, and the rain forests in Southeast.
The cycle is as profound as the law of physics and as familiar in Alaska as a Sunday school story. Indeed, it is the basis of many First Nation creation stories. SASAP includes a history of links between salmon and humans since before the Russians arrived in the early 1700s.
Salmon were the most important resource for the warrior Tlingit clans in Southeast. Respect for salmon was shown by Tlingit crying out a greeting to them as they jump out of the water approaching a stream, singing and dancing for them as they enter the streams, carefully handling them as they are harvested and processed, and releasing their spirit so it can return to their underwater home and be reborn, according to research cited by SASAP.
“In the realm of human social activities, salmon were honored as clan crest symbols, by creating beautiful images of them on blankets, hats, boxes, screens and totem poles and by giving humans names based on salmon characteristics. They were to be spoken of and to with respect and never insulted or abused,” according to the SASAP website.
The Ahtna, who lived in the Copper River valley, used the Chitina, Tonsina, Tazlina, Klutina, Gulkana, Slana, Mentasta and Tanada for their Chinook, sockeye, and coho salmon.
“Approximately a month before the expected arrival of salmon at Batzulnetas, men of the local group would travel the course of Tanada Creek and tributaries to Tanada Lake where sockeye were known to spawn and remove any beaver dams they found (Justin PC 2018). At Batzulnetas, the spiritual welcoming of the return of the salmon would be undertaken as a moral obligation conducted by the kaskae. During the period of waiting for the arrival of salmon, loud noises were prohibited, speaking softly was required, no entry into water was allowed, people moved slowly and with limited motion, and rounds of sweat bath cleansing and purification were undertaken (Justin 2017 pc).
“Ahtna believed that “salmon return to their natal streams to give themselves for harvest…If the fish are not used they will not return to their natal streams” (Simeone and McCall 2007: 40).
When the first salmon appeared, the people wore special clothing as they performed welcoming songs and dances that were to be conducted on the arrival of the salmon each year (Justin 2018 pc),” SASAP describes.
Wild Pacific salmon have not always been identified with Alaska as their stronghold. The Columbia River supported millions of Chinook -- two runs a year -- sockeye, and coho salmon. Dams made that journey impossible, and the results became clear decades later. Irregation and cheap electricity won; salmon and the fishing industry that relied on them, lost.
Washington’s Governor Inslee has formed a task force to consider removing certain dams from the Columbia and Snake Rivers to help rebuild salmon runs, especially the Chinook which is the preferred food of the struggling Southern Resident Killer Whale population. It could work, as seen on the Olympic Pennsula when the first spring after the Elwah River dam was destroyed and removed, and the stream bed was reconnected, king salmon showed up at the mouth of the river they’d not been to in many decades.
Today Alaska is the world’s last best place for wild salmon, and sustainability, as Alaskans will proudly tell you, is part of their state constitution.
Keeping salmon runs sustainable is underscored by the massive contribution the resource contributes to the state’s economy. Even when compared to pollock and its 1.9 billion pounds of production that contributed $280 million to the Alaska’s 2018 economy, sockeye salmon alone beat that value with production of $416 million with just 258.5 million pounds processed. All salmon production in 2018 eclipsed all other species with a total value of $690 million, according to 2018 figures.
Just a few stats to think about as you enjoy Wild Alaska Salmon Day this weekend.
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