Today President Obama is coming to my rural, remote hometown of approximately 2,000 people: Dillingham in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Follow me on my new Twitter account: www.twitter.com/SenatorSalmon to see the latest. You may have heard of Bristol Bay. Sarah Palin’s family goes salmon fishing here. Discovery Channel’s show ‘Deadliest Catch’ fishes here too. It’s a magnificent region that the President called a ‘National Treasure.’ And rightly so: this summer Bristol Bay had a record run of over 50 million wild sockeye salmon coming to our clear, clean rivers and lakes that dot the region. My family just got done catching a lot of salmon not only for our cash income, but to put food on the table. The bay is also home to a $2 billion a year fisheries for what my former employer World Wildlife Fund calls ‘America’s Fishbasket.’ The region’s abundant crab, halibut, salmon, herring, pollock and other fisheries provide our nation some of the best wild fish the world has to offer. These fisheries are a renewable, sustainable resource that provides thousands of jobs to Americans throughout the nation. It also provides millions of dollars in government revenues. Nutritionists and medical professional say the fish are good for your health if you eat them regularly. They will benefit America year after year, if we choose to take care of them.
The President is coming for good reasons. Bristol Bay faces many environmental challenges that strike the heart of not only us in the region, but across America and throughout the world. I’m thankful the President has done a great job in trying to confront these challenges. They include fighting climate change, which is affecting the polar-regions such as Arctic Alaska more drastically than anywhere else in the world. It also includes the proposed Pebble Mine, which would be one of the world’s largest gold and copper mines at the heart of our salmon spawning grounds. Further, it includes proposed offshore drilling in the Bering Sea. Luckily President Obama already used his presidential privilege to place Bristol Bay under permanent protections against this risky proposal. We’ve seen how oil spills such as the Exxon Valdez and the 2010 Gulf Macondo disaster can damage fisheries and livelihoods.
Throughout the world’s oceans, fisheries are in decline because of habitat destruction, overfishing and other factors such as climate change. A mixture of ocean acidification from increased greenhouse gas emissions, proposed mining across the region and other factors such as fisheries bycatch would put a strain on America’s Fishbasket in Bristol Bay. The President is coming to the region to shine a light for us: his administration has time and again shown their dedication to conserve what the bay has to offer. For example, EPA has taken a very rare step under the Clean Water Act to stop the proposed Pebble Mine that would pollute our region with billions of tons of mine waste. They have also aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through their Clean Power Plan, which will help to reduce the impacts of ocean acidification and climate change that hurt fisheries and wildlife.
I’m very thankful that the President is not only visiting Alaska, but also my hometown. His dedication to preserving our environment, as well as our tribe’s cultural traditions that have been sustained for millennia, will likely win accolades by locals during his visit. If you support us, please contact your U.S. Senator and Representative to support President Obama’s initiatives in Bristol Bay. Some members of Congress are attacking EPA and President Obama’s good work to combat Pebble Mine and climate change through legislative action. If you do, you will help preserve his legacy in the region, and say that you’ve done your part to protect America’s greatest wild fisheries in Bristol Bay, Alaska for future generations.