The first part of summer was warm and wonderful, and then, by August, wound down to the foggy drizzle many of you may still be experiencing. Yet, it was business as usual in Bristol Bay. Harvesting wild salmon has been our mainstay for thousands of years. We enjoy one of the most vibrant, intact ecosystems to which salmon continue to return. The forecast for this year’s run was historic and the actual run exceeded the forecast. It’s been a season of abundance. Fishing supports our communities, is inherent to our cultures and our heritage, and helps to feed people across the globe, and this was an exceptional year.
In the following pages, you’ll read about a special campaign our seafood subsidiary, Bristol Wild Seafood Company (BWSC), took part in this summer with Microsoft at their campus in Redmond, Washington, just outside of Seattle. The campaign was a celebration of our long-standing roots in fishing, of sustainable fishing practices, and of the cultures of the Alaska Native people in our region. I had the distinct pleasure of visiting the campus in June to observe a panel discussion about seafood sustainability with members of the BBNC Board as well as executives from BWSC. The panel was followed by a cooking demonstration with Microsoft’s executive chef. It was a fantastic experience, and a novel way to introduce and promote Alaska and our wild seafood.
One of our panelists at the Seafood Sustainability Panel was BBNC Board member Hazel Nelson. She relayed a story about her childhood in a village in the Bristol Bay region and how she and her siblings began fishing at a very young age. The kids worked for their mom, who held the permit for the set net operation. They’d put up a tremendous number of fish each season, placing the salmon on racks outside their home. Yet back then, their main mode of transportation was dog sleds, and the racks for the dogs were two- or three-times the size of the racks for themselves, so the family could keep the dogs well fed. You could see eyes widen in the audience as Hazel shared her story about the traditional way of harvesting salmon. It was a moment of connection that underscores why a campaign like this has such potency.
In BBNC’s FY2022 annual report, you’ll see that BBNC just closed out our strongest fiscal year ever. So, as we celebrate our 50th anniversary, we’re also celebrating a historic year, financially. And the first quarter of this fiscal year has been the strongest in our history thus far. There’s much to celebrate. And yet, we always recognize that there are many challenges and opportunities that need to be addressed in the
region—socially, economically, and otherwise. High energy costs, lack of infrastructure, social and economic challenges—these are all top of mind for us. By partnering with the right organizations, BBNC can continue to address the issues our communities face within the Bristol Bay region and beyond.
Much of our success rests on the fact that we’ve stayed grounded in our cultures and the guidance of our Elders, while also setting out a smart, forward-facing strategy that we stick to through good times and bad. This focus has strengthened our resilience and our ability to thrive, even through the most challenging of times. We’ll address subjects like this and more at our annual meeting, which is just around the corner on Saturday, October 1. We encourage people to tune in, either in person or virtually to hear what we’ve been up to and where we’re going, together.
As always, I encourage you to be safe and look out for each other, and to join us for the annual meeting in October, and vote in November. Thank you for your support.
President & CEO