By Brian Collett — Hundreds of Alaskan fishermen have taken action to safeguard their salmon grounds against environmental contamination.
Altogether 93 per cent of 513 interviewed salmon fishermen participated in environmental activity last year, the 2016 Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle, Washington, was told.
The fishermen were worried that onshore mining, pollution and the resulting climate change were affecting their salmon habitat and the quality of their catches.
Their actions, reported in a survey presented to the conference by the United Fishermen of Alaska, the industry’s professional body, included donating money and time to the cause, signing petitions, lobbying decision-makers, including politicians, and informing other fishermen about conservation and environmental issues.
Alaskan fishermen land about three million tons of fish and seafood annually. This figure is roughly the same as Norway’s tally, three or four times the amount caught by UK fishermen and approximately 2 per cent of the entire world catch. Fish and seafood comprise Alaska’s biggest export, though little is sold to Britain.
Commercial fisherwoman Melanie Brown, who took part in the conference presentation, emphasised that Alaskan fishermen feel deep personal connections with the profession and the protection of the salmon fishery.
She said: “Salmon and the environment are wrapped up in our identity. We believe it’s essential to maintain the health of the salmon and preserve the fishery for the generations to come.”
Lindsey Bloom, a board member of the professional body, said the survey responses showed Alaskan fishermen were “a pretty significant force to be reckoned with”.