Fish for Families completes salmon distributions to communities experiencing record-low salmon returns

    Ian Turner Demientieff (right) delivers boxes of donated sockeye salmon to Darryl Walker (left) in Holy Cross, Alaska. (Photo credit: Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust.)

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - In July and August, the Fish for Families project delivered more than 14,000 pounds of Bristol Bay sockeye salmon to families in the Chigniks and Yukon River regions where communities saw record-low wild salmon returns and subsistence fisheries were shut down.

    In response to the summer’s low salmon returns and the growing demand for donated salmon throughout Alaska, the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust collaborated with the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association and small-boat fishermen around the state to launch the Fish for Families initiative.

    In order to help redistribute wild salmon around the state, Fish for Families focused on sourcing salmon from Bristol Bay, which experienced a record-breaking run of 78 million sockeye salmon this summer–a stark contrast to the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers where Chinook, chum, and coho populations are at all-time lows.

    Fish for Families’ first salmon distributions this summer took place in the Chigniks where approximately 5000 pounds of Bristol Bay sockeye was flown in and distributed to local families impacted by reduced salmon harvest. The Fish for Families project then turned to the Yukon region and worked with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and other regional partners to help deliver 8,000 pounds of Bristol Bay sockeye to several Yukon River communities, including Anvik, Grayling, Holy Cross, and Shageluk, with plans to deliver an additional 3,000 pounds of salmon to St. Mary’s.

    To help fund the summer’s salmon distributions, the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust launched a GoFundMe campaign for the Fish for Families project and secured donations from foundations and partners, including the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, Bristol Bay Native Corporation, Catch Together, and Alaska Conservation Foundation.

    In addition, other local Alaskan businesses helped with logistics support, seafood procurement, and donated transportation, including Northline Seafoods, Grant Air, Ryan Air, Alaska Pride Air and Everts Air.

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