The Latest Resource Management Report --- It's Fascinating

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Keeping Bristol Bay Safe & Sane

Health is Wealth Campaign

Katmai Conservancy is very proud to support a local fundraiser in the Bristol Bay Burough.

All merchandise was designed locally and 10% of all proceeds will be donated to Bristol Bay Fish Expo to support Little Angels Childcare Academy and ensure the continuance of their early education program.

Click here to support the Health is Wealth Campaign

You will be redirected to the store in Naknek, AK

 

Some background:

The Port of Bristol Bay is the 2nd largest marine cargo port in the United States and the 3rd largest seafood port in the world. Our primary export is the single largest wild sockeye salmon fishery that remains on the planet. While over fishing, urbanization and environmental pollution have destroyed a devastating number of salmon runs around the world, the Bristol Bay salmon fishery is sustainably managed and remains entirely in tact. Our single species harvest takes place on the edge of the Bering sea and is executed from a small number of villages located on the 5 major river systems that spawn an unparalleled harvest that support local, regional, national and global access to real food.

Our annual harvest requires over twenty thousand people, that travel here from from around our region, state, country and globe to harvest, preserve and deliver our bounty your dinner tables. This industry is the key foundation in our local, regional economy and protection of the Bristol Bay fishery is one of the key reasons Alaska is even a state in the federal union. While COVID-19 prevention and mitigation efforts have been very effective within our great state, the looming approach of Alaska’s major fisheries in Cordova, Kodiak, Dutch Harbor, Ketchikan etc are all grappling with the difficulty of preventing economic interests from drowning efforts to implement adequate public health measures.

Bristol Bay Commercial Fishing Season and Covid 19

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May 7, 2020

Bristol Bay is located on the southwest portion of Alaska.  This area is immense in size.  Depending upon how it is described, it is the size of the state of Florida to the size of the Northeastern seaboard of the United States.  Within the region is Bristol Bay Borough which is the gateway community to Katmai National Park and Preserve.   For more about Bristol Bay Borough click here.  http://www.bristolbayboroughak.us/about/area.php

Bristol Bay Region is the home of several small communities with total populations of around 7,000. The largest communities are Dillingham, Naknek and King Salmon.  These communities are not accessible by road and are hours away from Anchorage by plane.

The upcoming commercial fishing season could possible draw over 14,000 additional cannery workers and fishermen.  The canneries have already begun planning.  https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/2020/04/08/bristol-bay-processors-offer-plan-aimed-at-keeping-massive-salmon-fishery-safe/.

Also, the Governor of the State of Alaska issued Health Mandate 017 -Protective Measures for Independent Commercial Fishing Vessels, April 23, 2020.

However, there is only one hospital in the region. It has 16 beds and no intensive care units. , There are 12 spaces for coronavirus patients. Local leaders say that an outbreak among the fishing fleet would overwhelm the system.  https://www.kdlg.org/post/fishing-season-draws-near-bristol-bay-communities-call-governor-safety-plan#stream/0

Bristol Bay is the largest and most valuable sockeye salmon fishery in the world. Millions of reds return to spawn in the streams and lakes around the region. In Bristol Bay alone, the 2018 harvest of all salmon species was approximately 43 million fish, and the value of the 2018 commercial catch topped $283 million.  Last year was a banner year for the salmon fishery.  Here is the projection for 2020.  https://www.adn.com/business-economy/2020/04/21/alaskas-2020-salmon-catch-expected-to-be-down-36-percent-after-a-big-2019-season/

Needless to say, this year, concerns about COVID-19 are hanging over the fishing season.  The entire process is a moving target.  Below are additional links to information:

Bristol Bay groups want state to get tough on incoming fishery workers, including testing for coronavirus before they arrive, April 20.

https://www.alaskapublic.org/2020/04/20/bristol-bay-groups-want-state-to-get-tough-on-incoming-fishery-workers-including-testing-for-coronavirus-before-they-arrive/

Bristol Bay leaders express concern over Alaska’s commercial fishing health mandate, May 1:

https://www.ktoo.org/2020/05/01/bristol-bay-leaders-express-concern-over-alaskas-commercial-fishing-health-mandate/

Bristol Bay Regional Town Hall: April 30, 2020

This is an excellent introduction to the planning and community concerns.

https://www.kdlg.org/post/bristol-bay-regional-town-hall-april-30-2020-0#stream/0

 

 

 

 

 

First, a huge thank you to Katmai National Park and Preserve Leadership Team and to the many leaders of Bristol Bay Borough, our Gateway Community.  To say that they are working under extremely difficult situations, with no predictable paths forward, and an ever changing environment is a total understatement.

You are greatly appreciated

 

For months the park staff has been working to plan for this summer season.   A priority in all of the planning is the safety and well being of the park employees, our neighboring communities, and our visitors.  Risk management is not an easy process and now it is complicated with an ever changing health and social environment.

News Release  April 10,2020

Katmai National Park and Preserve Is Modifying Brooks Camp Developed Area Operations To Implement Current Health Guidance

News Release Date: April 10, 2020

Katmai National Park and Preserve, in response to health guidance from the State of Alaska and the Bristol Bay Borough, is announcing modifications to operations to support federal, state, and local efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Effective immediately and continuing through 12:01 AM on July 1, 2020 Katmai National Park will offer no services outside those that support visitor or resource protection. At Katmai National Park and Preserve, the Brooks Camp Developed Area (please see map), is closed and accordingly the following services and operations will be suspended in order to comply with state and local health guidence:

  • All commercial services occurring in the Brooks Camp Developed Area
  • The Brooks Camp campground.
  • On-site visitor information and services at Brooks Camp.
  • On-site public programs at Brooks Camp

To read the entire official news release, click here.

As with every National Park, there are many issues that surround and inform decision making.  Here are a few:

History

The history of disease and pandemics are still very real for Native Alaskans.  Several times entire villages have been decimated, so the concern and fear of our surrounding communities is real.

https://www.ktva.com/story/41495907/100-years-later-exhibit-honors-alaskans-orphaned-by-spanish-flu

Accessibility

There are no roads to either Katmai National Park and Preserve or any of the regions communities.  Air service is limited in the best of times.

To exacerbate the problem, the entire state of Alaska is under a travel ban including all intrastate travel between communities.

https://www.ktuu.com/content/news/Officials-Coronavirus-cases-rise-in-Alaska-with-one-fatality-Friday-569179551.html

In addition RavnAir that supplied much of the access to the remote areas of Alaska filed for bankruptcy and is no longer providing services.

https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/2020/04/05/ravnair-group-stops-all-flights-and-lays-off-staff-due-to-covid-19/

Medical Facilities

The remote nature of this area of Alaska means limited facilities.

https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/rural-alaska/2020/04/01/an-alaska-hospital-executive-downplayed-the-covid-19-threat-in-an-email-to-staff-shes-no-longer-on-the-job/

Commercial Fishing

One of the world's largest salmon fisheries is Bristol Bay next to Katmai.  This two month season is a major economic engine for Alaska, and a major (often only) source of income for Alaskans.  Now, there are concerns.

https://indiancountrytoday.com/news/it-s-hard-when-you-love-something-xlS49l2N20KZjqumwfzZfQ

https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/rural-alaska/2020/04/03/thousands-of-fishery-workers-many-from-outside-alaska-are-headed-to-bristol-bay-one-tiny-hospital-says-it-cant-handle-them-all/

Just samples of the complexity ---- Again, thank you Katmai National Park and Preserve Leadership Team, and Bristol Bay Borough.