Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Salmonfest Celebration August 5-7

Salmonfest, a celebration of the connection of Alaskans to salmon and its habitat, is back at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds at Ninilchik for three days of fish, love and music August 5-7.

Headliners this year include the Grammy Award winning folk rock duo of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, plus several dozen other musical groups.

Salmonfest is supported by and benefits The Kachemak Bay Conservation Society, a Homer-based nonprofit organization whose goal is to educate the public, and both protect and promote Alaska's fish-filled waters. A second conservation entity, Cook Inletkeeper has joined the festival this year also as a primary sponsor and partner in “fish first” advocacy, to coordinate educational and outreach components of the event.

Speakers will include Maria Finn, author of “The Whole Fish: How Adventurous Eating of Seafood Can Make You Healthier, Sexier, and Help Save the Ocean.” Finn is scheduled to speak on how to eat the entire fish, from gill to adipose fin.

Also on the speaker’s platform will be Emily Stolarcyk, of the Eyak Preservation Council in Cordova, Alaska, who will talk about the council’s campaign to get the US Navy to conduct military training exercises in the Gulf of Alaska in the fall rather than during the summer fishing season.

Salmonfest got its start several years ago as Salmonstock, as effort of the Renewable Resources Coalition to preserve and protect the viability of Alaska’s abundant fishing and hunting resources in the face of efforts by Canadian mining interests to build a massive copper, gold and molybdenum mine near the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed. The Pebble Limited Partnership, a subsidiary of Northern Dynasty, which is a subsidiary of Hunter Dickinson Inc., a diversified global mining group based in Vancouver, British Columbia, has yet to file for permits for the development of the mine, but has made clear its plans to do so.

The US Environmental Protection Agency, after hearing extensive testimony from the public, environmental and mining industry entities, has said development of a large open pit copper mine at this location would threaten one of the world’s most productive salmon fisheries.

The Bristol Bay watershed, said the EPA, is an area of exceptional ecological value with salmon productivity unrivaled anywhere in North America, and its salmon populations are critical to the health of the area’s entire ecosystem, home to more than 20 other fish species, and 190 bird species, as well as bears, moose and caribou. Mining interests contend that the mine can be developed and operated in harmony with the fishery.

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