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Salmon Season Kicks off with Urgent Call from Alaska Fishermen: Congress Must Take Climate Action, Reduce Greenhouse Gas Pollution Now – Alaska Native News

Alaskan driftnetting vessel. Image-Salmon State video screengrab

JUNEAU, ALASKA—As the 2021 salmon season kicks off, Alaska fishermen are calling on Congress, the Biden Administration, and Alaska Senators Murkowski and Sullivan to take decisive action to address climate change and reduce carbon emissions.The call from fishermen, delivered by video, (link here) is tied to phenomena that should concern all who care about the ocean: shrinking salmon size, diminishing returns and salmon death from overheating, to name a few.

“This goes well beyond any partisan politics. The problem is huge and affects us all,” said fisherman Tyson Fick, who gillnets and co-owns Yakobi Fisheries. “Everyone I know who fishes in Alaska agrees: climate change and ocean acidification are real, and put America’s access to wild seafood at stake. We need solutions that address the underlying causes of climate change while also providing fishing communities with the tools we need to adapt and thrive with changing climate. The time to act is now.”

Small boat fishermen on the Copper River Delta will begin catching Alaska’s first wild salmon of the year on Monday, May 17. By the middle of next week, these prized Copper River kings and sockeye will be iced and on their way to being served to hungry consumers from Seattle’s Pike Place Market to the Boston Fish Market. By the time the season ends, Alaska fishermen are predicted to have sustainably caught more than 190 million fish. Alaska is the last country in the nation with such abundance — but climate change threatens all of that, impacting not only fishermen’s livelihood and communities, but also America’s domestic food supply. That’s why independent, community-based Alaska commercial fishermen and businesses are calling on Congress, the Biden administration, and Alaska Senators Murkowski and Sullivan to take decisive action to address climate change and reduce carbon emissions as their #1 priority. Senator Lisa Murkowski, in particular, has an opportunity to act before it is too late to right the ship via her key leadership role in the bipartisan Climate Caucus.

“Climate change is a tangible threat to fishery-dependent businesses like ours. Our fishermen, customers, and company’s leaders are tremendously concerned and want to see real progress being made to curb carbon emissions. We thank decisionmakers like Senator Murkowski for being a champion of our seafood industry and coastal communities, and ask for your leadership now in advancing strong policy solutions to address climate change.” said Kelly Harrell, Chief Fisheries Officer at Sitka Salmon Shares. 

If we all work together toward a better future that includes healthy oceans and vibrant waterfront communities, we can defend tens of thousands of jobs, billions of dollars in economic output, America’s access to wild, healthy, domestic seafood, the health of our resource and the well-being of future generations,” said Linda Behnken, a Sitka, Alaska-based longline fisherman and Executive Director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association. “Fishermen know a clean, healthy ocean is good for business.” 

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