This is the place for commercial fishermen, processors and small businesses. More than 500 vendors participated in the Pacific Marine Expo 2019 exhibition in Seattle late November.

The exhibition ended Saturday morning. But the Naknek fisherman, the Reba shrine, is making a splash with his unusual outfit, made from the mesh used by salmon attendants to capture a catch.

"It's made of leftover material to brail. So there are carnations, knits for the clearance sale and black straps, and it's an evening dress, "she explained.

Temple said the exhibition was a great place to get acquainted with the people and products of the industry.

"Everyone is here, you can talk to your processors, your friends, see the open hydraulic pumps so you really know how they work," she said.

Stickers and placards bearing the inscription "NO PEBBLE MINE" adorn the stands, as they have done for a decade. The mine would mine large copper and gold deposits near the sources of two major river systems in Bristol Bay. And as the Trump administration breathes new life into the project, many people are worried here.

"Nothing in the world presents zero risk, especially when you have a mine of this size with existing data that very clearly shows that there will be impacts," Schindler said.

Schindler is based in Seattle but spends summers in Bristol Bay as director of the Alaska Salmon program at the University of Washington. He launched the main panel of the exhibition – an update on how the Pebble proposal ends in the federal licensing process. The US Army Corps of Engineers released its environmental assessment project in February. A final version is expected in a few months. The regional office of the Environmental Protection Agency has expressed some concerns. And Schindler is worried too.

"The waste they produce will have to be stored on the site. And people are talking about "in perpetuity" and that sounds like a Biblical term. But it's a reality. This material that will be left will be there until the next ice age, "he said.

National Fisherman magazine editor Jessica Hathaway moderated the discussion, which discussed concerns about the project. Bristol Bay Seafood Association and Bristol Bay Native Corporation were also represented.

Pebble spokesperson Mike Heatwole said the partnership would have liked to participate in the panel, but was not invited.

In an e-mail, he said: "The public comment period has generated constructive input from the public and regulators and all comments must be reflected in the final EIS of the project." We are working on a series of inquiries from USACE about the issues raised during this process. "

But that's not the whole resource policy here. Jamie O'Connor is Program Manager for the Alaska Marine Conservation Council, which recently published a collection of poems, stories, art and recipes from 50 young fishermen. She herself works on a website in Bristol Bay, Ekuk. This is the second volume of the Alaska Almanac for Young Fishers.

"I've heard about people fishing who tell me that they do it when they feel a bit lonely in the face of some of the magic of fish," she said. . "Then, people outside the industry can look great. what does it look like to do what we do, and why it is important and why it should be preserved. "

More than 50 articles of young fishermen and mentors make up the second volume, printed with the recipes of the first volume. The almanac is created and produced entirely in Alaska. Homer artist Oceana Wills made the cover and the almanac was designed by Carolina Ernst of Sterling.

The economic outlook for Bristol Bay is mixed. The preliminary value of the vessel – the total amount paid to fishermen in 2019 – broke all previous records this year. But the news was not all excellent. The Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, a regional fisheries product marketing group, said the wholesale prices of fillets, eviscerated and ginned fish as well livestock were all down, as was the volume of sales.

Michael Jackson is a director of the association. He said the success of Bristol Bay was linked to its ability to provide high quality fish with no bruise.

"We have heard some concerns and we are trying to solve them," he said. "We are always quality conscious, so we have an ice infrastructure program that we are trying to expand and strengthen, so we try to make it available in every district, everywhere."

Not all companies were giants of the Pacific Northwest based around Seattle. By all accounts, Bristol Bay Brailer Company, based in Naknek, had three dazzling days selling brassieres. Company director Diane Hill said she was entering her fifth season and it seemed busy.

"We make a lot of new boats and they are interested in our braziers," Hill said. "I think our biggest challenge is the small size of our population and the recruitment of full-time workers. We are therefore hesitant to introduce new products. until we have a really good and solid staff all year round. So we will stay with our bases and see what happens from there. "

The three-day event ended Saturday. But many of these people will meet again in the not-so-distant future. There will be some sort of meeting this summer in Bristol Bay when the fishery starts seriously.

Contact the author at isabelle@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200

.