On Halloween, Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game released its 2023 Salmon Harvest Summary. And the numbers were scary.
Their total harvest was up 43 per cent from 2022, and in just two fishing districts on our northern border Alaska purse seiners and drift gillnetters caught a mind-boggling 18 million salmon and steelhead — more than the combined harvest from B.C., Washington, Oregon, and California.
Honestly, it feels like Canadian salmon are under attack.
The hardest hit was the Skeena. Once again, families were prevented from heading out to the river to fish for Chinook. While that fishery was closed, Alaskans caught 235,000 ‘treaty’ Chinook just off the coast. About 45 per cent of returning Skeena steelhead were killed before reaching our waters, jeopardizing a fishery critical to the regional economy and the long-term survival of this iconic population.
All told, we estimate the Alaskan fleet took three million Canadian salmon before they could migrate down the coast, with thousands more dying in unmonitored fisheries that don’t safely release their bycatch.
So, how do we fight back?
Awareness remains critical. Our campaign to roll back the unsustainable Alaskan harvest of our salmon reached 1.9 million British Columbians, we’ve had 18,000 new visits to our website and 95,000 views on YouTube.
Over 1,700 of you sent letters to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) calling them out for “greenwashing” Alaska’s dirty interception fisheries. That brought them to the table for our first-ever sit down meeting to discuss the flaws in their certification process. We’re planning to expand this part of our campaign to the U.S. next year, and we’ll continue to hold the MSC’s feet to the fire.
We will need to see some backbone from our diplomats at trade and foreign affairs and, until the Pacific Salmon Treaty is fixed, we need the Pacific Salmon Commission to place much stricter limits on Alaska’s interception fisheries, including a requirement for Alaska to monitor and truthfully report the number of Canadian fish they kill.
The letters you sent, the posts you shared, and the donations you made are responsible for the progress so far. We know what victory looks like.
To find out more information on Alaska’s Dirty Secret and take action: https://www.alaskasdirtysecret.com/