The Bristol Bay, Alaska commercial salmon fishery is the world’s most valuable wild salmon fishery and in total produces an astounding annual value of $1.5 billion, according to a new report. The report, “The Economic Importance of the Bristol Bay Salmon Industry,” says the fishery supports a significant number of jobs in the four West Coast states, Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California, and that the total value of Bristol Bay salmon product exports in 2010 was about $370 million, accounting for 6% of the total value of all US seafood exports. Written by researchers at the University of Alaska’s Institute for Social and Economic Research, the report marks the first time the full value and impact of the Bristol Bay salmon fishery has been measured.

To learn more, please see our page on the economic report.

banner-docReport highlights include:

  • The Bristol Bay salmon fishery supports 12,000 jobs in fishing and processing industries; including 4,369 fishing and processing jobs in Alaska; 3,227 in Washington state; 2,143 in Oregon; 553 in California and 1,629 in other states.
  • The salmon fishery creates an additional 7,800 jobs across the country due to the multiplier effects of retailing in grocery stores, restaurants, etc., and developing  value-added products.
  • The commercial fishery provides about $500 million in direct income to workers across the country every year.

The report comes at the same time the EPA is conducting a comment period of its revised Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment, a scientific report that shows that digging up the proposed Pebble mine will destroy up to 90 miles of salmon streams and up to 4,800 acres of wetlands in the best case scenario, without potential leaks or a catastrophic failure.

The report was released during a May 9 phone conference. Here’s what people had to say about it.

Deadliest Catch Captain Johnathan Hillstrand: “For everyone who counts on the salmon industry to make a living, the Pebble project is the Deadliest Mine. The only people who want this mine don’t live in Alaska or even the United States. They’re foreign mining companies that want to sell gold and copper to the Chinese.”

Sen. Patty Murray, Washington: “I am pleased a study has been done to detail the economic importance of the salmon industry in Bristol Bay. This report confirms what we have known for years – that it is not just Alaskans who depend on Bristol Bay for their personal income and livelihoods. Over 3,000 Washingtonians make their living off Bristol Bay’s salmon runs. This report, in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency’s draft Watershed Assessment, clearly demonstrates both the environmental and economic damages that development in this region could have, and I am hopeful the Administration takes the economic value of the salmon fishery into account when making future decisions regarding Bristol Bay.”

Rep. Jim McDermott, Washington: “There are few issues that are more black and white than protecting Bristol Bay. EPA’s draft assessment and this economic impact study both confirm that the proposed Pebble mine would be bad for fish and bad for fishermen. With 3,000 Washington state jobs at stake, we can’t afford the ecological or economic risk.”

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, Oregon: “Bristol Bay, Alaska is not only one of nature’s treasures, it’s an important part of the Oregon economy. As the Bristol Bay economic report shows, more than 2,000 Oregon fishermen and processors help make Bristol Bay one of the world’s most valuable wild salmon fisheries. As they have for decades, many fishermen and women will make the trip to Bristol Bay soon to begin another fishing season. Bristol Bay’s enormous contributions to the Oregon, regional, and national economies cannot be overlooked as the EPA finalizes its very important Watershed Assessment.”

Sen. Maria Cantwell, Washington: “This report is further evidence of how important the Bristol Bay salmon fishery is to the Northwest’s economy and to the thousands of Washington state jobs that depend on it. And, this report is evidence that this is a national issue. I will continue to fight for all of the jobs threatened by the impacts of the proposed Pebble Mine. I look forward to the EPA finalizing its science based Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment.”

John Garner, vice president of Seattle-based Trident Seafoods: “This report demonstrates how critical the Bristol Bay salmon fishery is to thousands of jobs, millions in revenues and to countless businesses like ours. We process hundreds of millions of pounds of high quality seafood a year, including Bristol Bay sockeye and it is an incredibly important product line for us.”

Bob Waldrop, executive director of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association: “We’re proud of the hard-working men and women in this industry who’ve invested their time, sweat and money to build a thriving American commercial fishery that’s been operating for more than 125 years. We will not sacrifice this hard work to the Pebble Mine – planned as North America’s largest open-pit mine – the greatest threat our fishery has ever known.”