Amid Massive Bristol Bay Sockeye Runs, Tribal Interests Reiterate More Protection From Mine Push

As Bristol Bay experiences a record-setting run of sockeye appearing and harvested this year, the push for the Environmental Protection Agency to implement permanent watershed protections under Clean Water Act rules has only grown as the fish have showed up in bunches.

United Tribes of Bristol Bay released the following statement today:

Bristol Bay Tribes emphasize need for permanent protections amidst record sockeye return

DILLINGHAM, AK – For the second year in a row, a record number of sockeye have returned to Bristol Bay. Through July 14, Alaska Department of Fish and Game estimates 69.7 million sockeye returned to the Bay and its rivers, breaking the previous record of 67.7 million sockeye, set in 2021. Commercial fishermen have also set a new harvest record for the bay, with 53.3 million sockeye caught through July 14.

“Salmon have provided for the people of Bristol Bay for thousands of years due to our ancestral stewardship of our pristine lands and waters. We’re grateful our salmon continue to return home in record numbers but our watershed is still facing the grave threat of mines like Pebble. Bristol Bay remains a salmon stronghold and will only continue if it is permanently protected. The EPA must finalize Clean Water Act protections for the headwaters of our fishery this year,” said UTBB Executive Director Alannah Hurley, from her hometown and fish camp in Clark’s Point in the heart of the Nushagak District of the Bristol Bay fishery. 

Bristol Bay’s record-breaking sockeye returns come as many other salmon runs struggle, making it especially important to protect one of the last great wild salmon runs on earth. Commercial, sport and subsistence salmon harvests in Bristol Bay will continue for weeks to come, and the season’s final numbers will be higher than the records broken this week.


United Tribes of Bristol Bay is a Tribal consortium representing 15 Bristol Bay tribal governments (that represent over 80 percent of the region’s total population) working to protect the Yup’ik, Dena’ina, and Alutiiq way of life in Bristol Bay.