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Bristol Bay Wild Salmon Celebration Returns to Washington, D.C.

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BBNC brings Bristol Bay sockeye to the nation’s capital, honors supporters

September 22, 2022

WASHINGTON, D.C. – For the first time in-person since 2019, last night Bristol Bay Native Corporation (BBNC) and other partners hosted the Bristol Bay Wild Salmon Celebration in the nation’s capital. Held virtually in 2020 and cancelled due to COVID-19 in 2021, the 2022 Wild Salmon Celebration brought together the Alaska Congressional Delegation, BBNC board members and staff, and other dignitaries and supporters to celebrate — and eat — wild Bristol Bay salmon. BBNC also recognized four Alaska leaders with Fish First awards to honor their commitment to and advocacy for Bristol Bay. The first Wild Salmon Celebration took place in 2017.

BBNC Board Chair Russell Nelson, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), U.S. Congresswoman Mary Peltola (D-AK) and BBNC President and CEO Jason Metrokin enjoy some time together at the Bristol Bay Wild Salmon Celebration in Washington DC. US Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) also spent time at the event.

“It has been three years since Washington, DC has had a taste of fresh, quality, and sustainable Bristol Bay sockeye salmon,” said Jason Metrokin, President and CEO of Bristol Bay Native Corporation. “It is an honor and a privilege to gather in-person this year to celebrate Bristol Bay, its incredible sockeye salmon, and the people working to safeguard the Bay for future generations. As many in DC have discovered this week, Bristol Bay’s sockeye salmon aren’t just delicious – they are a sustainable resource vital to an entire region and people. Working together with supporters in Bristol Bay, across Alaska, the Lower 48, and leaders in Washington, DC, Bristol Bay and its sockeye will continue to be a vital resource for Alaska and the country.”

BBNC bestowed four very deserving honorees with the “Fish First” award. They are:

  • Bob Gillam (posthumously)
  • United Tribes of Bristol Bay (UTBB) Executive Director Alannah Hurley
  • Former Alaska State Senator Rick Halford
  • Former Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Norm Van Vactor

Halford and Van Vactor accepted the award in person. Bob Gillam’s son Rob accepted in memory of his late father. Hurley was not able to attend in person, but UTBB Deputy Director Dolores Larsen accepted on her behalf and read a letter from Hurley. The Fish First awards honor those who have supported and championed Bristol Bay and its wild salmon run. Awardees are honored with a handcrafted basket made from salmon and trout skin created by Bristol Bay resident Marlene Nielsen. Past Fish First honorees include Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, the late Congressman Don Young, the late Senator Ted Stevens and his wife Catherine Stevens, the late Governor Jay Hammond and his late wife Bella Hammond, the late Bristol Bay leaders Bobby Andrew and Harvey Samuelsen, Alaska State Representative Bryce Edgmon, and Ekwok Tribal Council President Luki Akelkok.

Other sponsors of the 2022 Celebration include:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • Anchorage Brewing Company
  • Bessenyey & Van Tuyn, LLC
  • Bristol Bay Wild Seafood Company
  • Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association
  • General Communication, Inc. (GCI)
  • National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
  • The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development
  • Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
  • Pacific Seafood Processors Association

The Wild Salmon Celebration occurred during Bristol Bay Salmon Week, where Washington, DC-area restaurants are featuring Bristol Bay sockeye on their menus. The restaurants are diverse in their fares and each is taking a unique approach to preparing Bristol Bay sockeye. Highlights of the salmon celebration and Bristol Bay Salmon Week on social media can be tracked using the hashtag #BristolBaySalmonWeek. Bristol Bay Salmon Week is sponsored by Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association (BBRSDA).

The 2022 Bristol Bay sockeye salmon fishing season saw multiple records broken with 56 million fish caught out of nearly 80 million that returned to Bristol Bay’s rivers and streams. On one day in July 2022, fishers caught 2.36 million sockeye. In addition to supporting a billion-dollar commercial and sport fishing economy and thousands of jobs, Bristol Bay sockeye are central to the subsistence lifestyle practiced by Alaska Native people in the Bristol Bay region.

About Bristol Bay Native Corporation: Bristol Bay Native Corporation is a responsible Alaska Native investment corporation dedicated to the mission of “Enriching Our Native Way of Life.” Established through the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971, BBNC works to protect the land in Bristol Bay, celebrate the legacy of its people, and enhance the lives of its shareholders. Learn more at bbnc.net.