By: Michael Engle
Alaska is the site of an ongoing political battle, between two opposing interest groups, that will shape the state, national, and world economy for generations. Its legacy will be profound, as this economic decision will determine Alaska’s course in fishing or mining.
Bristol Bay lies northwest of the Aleutian Mountain Range; it is separated from the Gulf of Alaska by the Alaska Peninsula. It is, currently, Alaska’s most vital fishing ground, as it houses rainbow trout and five distinct varieties of salmon. Fishing in Bristol Bay has been identified as an important economic activity, accounting for 75% of local jobs, and $175 million per year to the economy. It is the center of a cultural tradition, as 2009 marked the 125th anniversary of local fishing. Bristol Bay also carries great international importance. In 2008, National Geographic identified Bristol Bay as one of only three “well-maintained” fisheries in the world. The other two are located in Iceland and New Zealand.
On the other hand, the Bristol Bay network is also home to large reserves of presently unmined natural resources. There is gold and copper within the Kvichak and Nushagak Rivers, which both flow into Bristol Bay. Read More