First off, I want to send out a huge round of thanks to Danielle Wirth for her efforts in making this order come to fruition. It took a lot of effort to work out the logistics and the funneling of information in both directions.
Secondly, thanks to all the members. It’s great to be able to bring salmon into middle America and to share something that I treasure in so many ways to the inland tables.
My name is Christopher Wang and I catch the salmon that you’re getting. I fish on board a boat called the Marion Ruth on which we catch the salmon and then cooperatively process them with a group of other boats. I got into fishing first as a job during college and then came back around to fishing and particularly Bristol Bay as a chef that was interested in sustainability and secure food systems.
Here’s a transcript of a talk I gave at Slowfood’s annual fish event called SlowFish. It tells this story and the story of a place. There’s also an NPR interview where I talk about closing the loop between catching and putting salmon on people’s tables.
As host to the largest wild salmon run in the world, it’s important that we as a community work to protect and preserve it as salmon has been an integral and important part of the ecosystem for eons. Over the last decade, we’ve been working hard to fight a proposed open pit mine which would be placed at the headwaters that feed into the two major river systems that feed Bristol Bay. I work with a group called Salmon State towards this end. You can check out their campaigns here.
The management strategy for Bristol Bay works on an escapement system. We are not allowed to fish until certain escapement goals are met. In order to ensure that they have a diverse gene class, they will often not allow us to fish on different tides. Interestingly, in order to protect salmon, the best way is to actually continue harvesting it as the runs, if left on their own, would be too large for the rivers to handle as salmon root down into loose gravel to spawn and, with the rivers plugged, they would scour the beds clean. I thought this was bullshit until I read a book called Braiding Sweetgrass which talks about the relationship between humans and the ecosystem and how selective harvesting actually can make the
There’s a lot of indigenous wisdom up where we work and live in Alaska… and also a lot of ills that come with the clashing of cultures and difficulties in integration. It’s still a wild and untamed land.
There are many stories to tell but for now, I’ll let the salmon speak for itself. Here’s a recipe that incorporates vegetables and herbs that are peaking around this time of year.
Stay tuned next spring, as I’m working with a friend to make halibut, cod and some other groundfish available to you.
I sent Danielle a care package which includes some information about Bristol Bay and would love for you to share it amongst yourselves and with your community.