Celebrate World Fisheries Day

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Through Nelli williams

Updated: 22 June 2018 Posted: 22 June 2018

This Saturday, June 23, fishermen around the world will celebrate the inauguration of a party Alaskans can certainly support – World Fisheries Day. My husband, two young children and I will be celebrating this fish vacation from our boat, enjoying the long June day looking for some fish and playing on some gravel bars.

World Fisheries Day was created to encourage families to go out on the water together, unite the fishing community, attract new people to the sport and highlight the positive changes fishing can have in life. people. The folks at Fishing TV have come up with an exciting concept to share a live feed of anglers hunting iconic species in 24 locations around the world, and it’s no surprise that one of their first locations is none other than Alaska.

With five species of wild Pacific salmon, rainbow trout, rainbow trophy and abundant Dolly Varden, arctic char, grayling and more, we know Alaska is special when it comes to food. fishing, whether you are fishing with a rod and reel or with a net. It’s no surprise that residents and visitors alike flock to the rivers this time of year, supporting two of our state’s three biggest economic pillars: fishing and tourism. The sport fishing industry alone supports over 1,100 businesses, employs over 2,500 fishing guides (87% of whom are Alaskan) and contributes $ 1.4 billion to our economy each year.

If you’re unfamiliar with the plight of wild salmon outside of Alaska, you might not realize how lucky we are. Other states spend millions each year to repair wild salmon habitat, restore adequate water flows to their rivers, and move fish around large dams. They struggle to keep wild salmon populations at fractions of their historic size. Over the past 100 years, more than 400 runs of wild Pacific salmon and rainbow trout have been killed along the west coast, the main cause of which is habitat degradation.

By comparison, Alaska is in relatively good shape, but threats are mounting and alarm bells are ringing. Emergency orders have been issued closing many fishing grounds in south-central and southeastern Alaska to protect low returns of king salmon. The proposed Pebble mine, planned atop and near waterways essential to support the massive Bristol Bay salmon runs, is on track to secure a major permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. New science increasingly confirms that oceanic competition between wild and hatchery salmon is impacting wild salmon runs in south-central Alaska. On Prince of Wales Island in the south-east, hundreds of culverts hamper fish migration. In British Columbia, along rivers that flow into Southeast Alaska, a series of massive mines are putting the region’s fisheries and economy at risk.

Protecting fish habitat and expecting responsible development of our natural resources is an easy way for Alaskans to work together to protect our fisheries, support our economies, and protect our fisheries heritage. Unfortunately, as Alaska is developing at a rapid rate, the primary law governing development near salmon streams is woefully outdated, does not reflect new scientific information, and does not allow the people of Alaska to provide feedback on projects that could be built in our important fishing rivers and hunting areas.

So what can you do?

Most of you are probably already planning to do the first: Celebrate World Fisheries Day by going to the water and being grateful for the unprecedented fishing resources provided by the spawning grounds of our abundant Alaskan rivers.

Then I ask you to go further and support efforts to protect fish habitat. Call on our heads of state to push back on ill-conceived projects like the proposed pebble mine that irresponsibly endanger our fisheries, our communities and our culture. Support the Salmon Habitat Voting initiative in November to improve laws guiding responsible development and tell others to do the same. Take part in a river clean-up day on your favorite fishing river.

Recently our 6 year old drew a picture of a toothy giant bright sockeye jumping from a light blue river. He captioned it: “In Ulaska, you take the samin car.” Let me translate: “In Alaska, you take care of the salmon.” I think he might be on to something. If we follow this advice, we will continue to feed our economy and our families, support thousands of jobs, and maintain the fishing and hunting opportunities that many of us enjoy. It looks like a bright future for Alaska and something to keep in mind this World Fisheries Day and beyond.

Nelli williams lives in Anchorage with her husband and two young children and is the Alaska Director for Trout Unlimited.


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