The Bristol Bay sockeye fishery is the world’s most valuable wild salmon fishery. Harvesting, processing, and retailing Bristol Bay salmon has a multiplier effect of $1.5 billion annually in the United States.
With the run typically peaking around July 4th, this is a busy time for local fishermen and the support industry and agencies who help them get ready.
To gear up, locals held the inaugural Bristol Bay Fish Expo in Naknek June 9–10, with Alaska Sea Grant’s Gabe Dunham giving marine safety presentations and sharing safety and commercial fishing information with fishermen.
Dunham, the Marine Advisory agent for the Bristol Bay region based in Dillingham, addressed some 100 people on marine safety, including the care and use of survival suits. At the Alaska Sea Grant booth he answered questions on marine safety and commercial fishing.
“People wanted to talk about the upcoming fishing season, and fish forecasts,” said Dunham.
Dunham showed the video Flooding Control: Knowledge and Tools to Prevent Sinking, highlighted the upcoming Alaska Marine Safety Association (AMSEA) safety training workshop schedule, and shared Alaska Sea Grant handouts and publications of interest to commercial fishermen.
In addition to supporting the fishing industry, the expo was designed to connect and engage commercial fishermen with Bristol Bay residents and communities where they ply their trade. The event also raised about $15,000 for the Little Angel’s Childcare Academy. Highlights were the ceremonial presentation of the “first fish” by school children to community elders, and a fishing-themed fashion show.
Dunham hopes to return for next year’s expo on behalf of Alaska Sea Grant. “I had a lot of people come by the booth, similar to a much larger trade show. It was very worthwhile.”
For a recap of the event, see the Bristol Bay Times article Bristol Bay Expo puts focus on kids and fish.