Tell policy makers that you want permanent protection for Bristol Bay – sign our open letter.
“Fish Are More Valuable Than Oil; Water Is More Precious Than Gold”
Nowhere was hospitality more abundant than on the Egegik set net beach last week. My co-worker, Amy, and I went camp-to-camp between tides drinking lots of tea and coffee and hearing from fishermen about their views on possible offshore drilling in Bristol Bay after the current delay until 2017 runs out. Almost everyone volunteered that Bristol Bay is the wrong place for such a thing. And “No Pebble” buttons and flags were all over the place. Why here, in the heart of high value fisheries and the world’s most productive salmon watershed? People were scratching their heads wondering “what could ‘they’ possibly be thinking?” All but two people we met – permit holders and crew – wanted to sign the letter for permanent protection from offshore drilling in Bristol Bay. One fisherman put it best, “Fish are more valuable than oil and water is more precious than gold.” Could you sum things up any better than that?
Longstanding fishermen on the beach remembered and supported the Bristol Bay buyback in 1995. Didn’t we take care of this problem then? So signing a letter now for permanent protection was met by some with a certain amount of skepticism. Is the promise of “permanent” a bit misleading? Can’t a future government reverse any policy? The answer is yes they can. But as Amy explained, we are creating a legacy of protecting Bristol Bay in perpetuity that will become our responsibility and that of future generations of fishermen and communities to defend. Like our democracy, it’s not absolutely guaranteed but requires continuous maintenance. “In perpetuity” for Bristol Bay means taking a clear step now to create a permanent protection policy (going beyond the temporary delays and moratoria established and lost numerous times over the past 35 years) and our collective caretaking over time.
Have you had a chance to sign the open letter that urges permanent protection of the largest runs of wild salmon on Earth, and the jobs, livlihoods, Native tradiations and communities they support?