Communities statewide celebrated the third annual Alaska Wild Salmon Day Friday. Some activities are happening Saturday.
The holiday was established in 2016 when Gov. Walker signed House Bill 128, designating every Aug. 10 as Alaska Wild Salmon Day. Wild salmon plays a unique role in the lives of nearly all Alaskans – from subsistence, commercial and sport fisherman to everyday Alaskans sharing a salmon meal with their family. The holiday is of special importance this year because many Alaskans are seeing their communities and businesses suffer from curtailed fishing and decreased salmon runs.
“While most of the state saw record low numbers this year, in Bristol Bay we were part of a record year,” said Everett Thompson, a fifth generation commercial fisherman in Naknek. “Salmon carry us, the rivers carry us. Everywhere you look in Alaska, people have inhabited abundant fishing areas for thousands of years. The biodiversity here in Bristol Bay is incredible and I worry that if we don’t do something now to protect our salmon and the habitat they need to survive, we will lose something that is so deeply a part of who we are.”
Alaska Wild Salmon Day celebrations across the state included:
- Anchorage – Cuddy Family Park, Aug. 10, 5:30 - 8 p.m., FREE
- Anchorage – Bear Tooth Theatre, Aug. 10, 2 - 3:30 p.m. (Showing of The Super Salmon)
- Soldotna – Soldotna Creek Park, Aug. 10, 6 - 9 p.m., FREE
- Sitka – Crescent Harbor, Aug. 10, 5 - 9 p.m.
- Fairbanks – Chief David Salmon Tribal Hall, Aug. 10, 5:30 - 8 p.m., FREE
- Juneau - Amalga Distillery and Devil's Club Brewing Company, Aug. 10, 5 - 7:30 p.m.
- Homer – Karen Hornaday Park, Aug. 10, 4:30 - 7:30 p.m., FREE
- Talkeetna – Talkeetna Village Park, Saturday Aug. 11, noon - 3 p.m., FREE
- Palmer – Matanuska River Park, Pavilion D, Aug. 11, noon - 3 p.m., FREE
Alaska’s salmon fishing industry provides jobs for more than 30,000 Alaskans and generates $2 billion annually in economic activity.
“Wild Salmon Day is the perfect opportunity to highlight the economic importance of salmon to our state,” said Erica Madison, a commercial fisherwoman on the Kvichak River in Bristol Bay. “The money I bring in as a commercial fisherwoman is put back into the local economy, supporting the cycle of industry surrounding fishing. $1.5 billion is the annual economic output of Bristol Bay, with 14,000 jobs created. I live and breathe Alaska, and I respect the resource that we are utilizing --- the renewable wild sockeye salmon run that drives the productivity here.”
In a 2016 poll, 75 percent of Alaskans indicated that more should be done to protect the strong legacy of Alaska salmon for future generations. This year’s celebrations call attention to an energized movement of Alaskans seeking to protect wild salmon through updates to the state’s 60-year-old permitting law that dictates what impacts will be allowed to occur in salmon habitat. Ballot Measure 1, which will go before voters in the November election, gives Alaskans a voice in salmon habitat protection while balancing responsible resource development. On Wednesday, Measure 1 cleared the Alaska Supreme Court, the final hurdle on the way to the ballot.
“Salmon runs were surprisingly weak in many areas of Alaska this year. We know what happened, and we are all wondering why. Theories and solutions abound in community conversations around the state,” said Eric Jordan, Sitka resident and captain of the F/V I Gotta. “Future generations of Alaskans depend on us to sustain healthy salmon runs. For me, that’s been a lifetime of work, and it continues by voting Yes for Measure 1 this fall.”
“If you live in Alaska, you are connected to salmon. It’s that simple,” said Ryan Schryver, director of Stand for Salmon, one of the hosts of the Wild Salmon Day events. “This time of year, every day is a celebration of wild salmon. But this holiday gives us the unique opportunity to get together with our friends and neighbors and share our stories. This year, it gives us a chance to talk about what we’re seeing out on the rivers - from record high numbers in Bristol Bay to fishing closures and declining runs in the rest of the state.”
For updated event details and more information about Alaska Wild Salmon Day, visit www.aksalmonday.com.
Stand for Salmon is a diverse group of Alaska-based individuals, businesses, and organizations united in taking immediate steps to ensure that Alaska remains the nation’s salmon state for generations to come. Learn more at www.standforsalmon.org.