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Protect Bristol Bay Commercial Fishermen

73. Saving Bristol Bay Salmon, Alaska’s Red Gold

Bristol Bay Alaska fishermen Katherine Carscallen and Brett Veerhusen talk with Rob about the world’s finest salmon fishery for indigenous people, for commercial fishermen and for recreational anglers.   This is breathtakingly beautiful, awesomely wild country and a way of life that most of us assume no longer exists.  Katherine and Brett want us all to care passionately for Bristol Bay and for the salmon known as “Alaska’s red gold.”  Only then can we comprehend the problem with building the ginormous Pebble Mine at the head of all of Bristol Bay rivers.  Will you care if Katherine’s and Brett’s livelihood is forever lost? Care if the land of walrus, seal, fish and eagle destroyed by a mining waste accident?   For answers go to http://fishermenforbristolbay.org/

Alaska fisherwomanAfter the program I asked Katherine if when catching salmon she sees walrus and whether they ever damage nets.  Katherine replied:

“I’ve never seen a Walrus eating salmon, but we do have one of the largest hall-outs for them just around the coast on Round Island – the Island is now a preserve, so aside from a subsistence harvest they are left to sunbathe in peace.

We also have Orca whales which come into the bay while we’re fishing on occasion, and a whole lot of Beluga whales – seals, and sea lions are abundant as well, although not the best friends of fishermen!  All of those guys seem to have the sense to stay out of our nets, and any sort of bycatch is very rare, we dredge up a lot of flounders and small sole and baby halibut, but they are all tossed back unharmed… “

Brett Bristol Bay AK fishermenBrett Veerhusen, originally from Homer, Alaska, grew up commercial fishing throughout Alaska and currently owns and operates the F/V Finnegan in Bristol Bay. He has extensively fished throughout the state, from the Aleutian Islands to Southeast, for salmon, halibut and herring. Brett is active on the campaign to stop the proposed Pebble mine, which threatens his livelihood along with the ecosystem that supports thousands of fishermen and subsistence users. He is attaining his Masters in Marine Affairs from the University of Washington and lives in Seattle. He is fluent in Spanish and has lived and worked in Nicaragua and Spain.

Katherine Bristol Bay FishermanKatherine Carscallen is third generation commercial fisherman in Bristol Bay. Born and raised in Dillingham, Alaska, Katherine was raised in the salmon gill net fishery, and now captains her boat, the F/V Sea Hawk. In the off season, Katherine works to protect the Bristol Bay fishery from threats like the proposed Pebble Mine. She is works as an organizer with the group Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay, and also sits on the Board of Directors for the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association.