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by Biodiversity Intern Regina Fitzsimmons

Trout Unlimited—the nation’s largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization—has asked Slow Food Seattle and Seattle Chef’s Collaborative to partner in a public awareness campaign to protect the wild Bristol Bay sockeye salmon. These three organizations are asking their neighbors and community members to “Vote with their Fork.” Trout Unlimited hopes that people will seek out and eat at restaurants that are serving wild Bristol Bay sockeye salmon on their menus and in so doing, support a sustainable food source that has renewed itself for the past 9,000 years that salmon have returned to Bristol Bay.

These fish need our protection now. Pebble Mine is attempting to set up new open pit mining operations (to the tune of $345-500 billion) at the headwaters of Bristol Bay, a territory prone to earthquakes. Pebble Mine wants to extract gold – a non-renewable resource that could be mined 50 years before running out. (FYI, as you can read in our previous blog post from last January, the EPA ranks open pit mining as the most polluting industry in the nation.)

If Pebble Mine were able to set up camp on the banks of Bristol Bay, the development and pollution would be irreversibly harmful to the watershed and the 80 million wild salmon that migrate back to the Bay each year, not to mention the animals one notch up the food chain that depend on wild salmon for sustenance. What’s more, Bristol Bay is home to many people who also rely on the Bay’s fisheries for their income. If the sockeye faded off the world fishery stage, there would be an international crisis; Bristol Bay salmon make up 40% of the world’s sockeye salmon.