Op-Ed: Calista Corporation’s Testimony to the Alaska Board of Fisheries
Immediate Action Needed to Prevent Total Collapse of AYK Salmon Runs
By Andrew Guy, President/CEO
February 27, 2023
Calista Corporation is deeply concerned about our state and federal regulators allowing commercial fisheries to intercept too many salmon returning to our region’s rivers and wasting our most precious food as bycatch.
Until recently, salmon sustained the population of the Calista region year-round and it was common to see fish racks and smokehouses along the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers filled with salmon. Salmon runs were strong enough for our Shareholders to feed their families through the winter, mitigating the high cost of living in the region while providing a healthy food staple.
With the decline of salmon, our communities are forced to rely on other fish and game stocks as well as food donations.
Though there are numerous theories encompassing the collapse of the salmon stocks of the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers, there is one thing all experts agree on. The source of this collapse does not arise within the fresh waters of the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers. However, once the fish hit the oceans, they suffer from poor marine survival rates.
Calista intends to continue pressing decision makers from Alaska’s state capitol to Washington D.C. to follow their legal obligations, before the 2023 fishing season begins, to prevent the total collapse of the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim salmon stocks.Andrew Guy, Calista Corp. President/CEO
Last week, Calista joined other organizations from our region as well as the upper Yukon in testimony to the Alaska Board of Fisheries, demanding it to follow its constitutional mandate and prevent the total collapse of our region’s salmon stocks. Calista also donated airfare for seven Calista Region residents to attend and provide their own testimonies.
In our testimony, we noted that the chum salmon crash didn’t solely arise from environmental stress in the ocean. Chronic mismanagement has left the fishery unable to endure environmental changes.
We spoke in support of common-sense proposals, including Proposal 140, to fairly allocate the salmon between the different user groups. We opposed the proposed increase in commercial harvest of these salmon.
While fisheries in the Yukon and Kuskokwim region have limped along or closed for decades, Area M fisheries are having record catches. Adding to the harvest burden, Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (AYK) salmon are forced to compete with an ever-increasing stock of Asia originated hatchery salmon while they are in the North Pacific. As a result of this increased competition, chinook and chum salmon are suffering high mortality rates and returning earlier and smaller.
Section 17 of Article VIII of Alaska’s Constitution provides: “Laws and regulations governing the use or disposal of natural resources shall apply equally to all persons similarly situated with reference to the subject matter and purpose to be served by the law or regulation.”
We can’t wait for additional studies before taking action. Calista intends to continue pressing decision makers from Alaska’s state capitol to Washington D.C. to follow their legal obligations, before the 2023 fishing season begins, to prevent the total collapse of the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim salmon stocks.
Calista Corporation has over 36,000 Shareholders and is the parent company of more than 30 subsidiaries in the following industries: defense contracting, construction, real estate, environmental services, natural resource development, marine transportation, oilfield services, and heavy equipment sales, service and rentals. Since 1994, Calista has provided more than $6.1 million in scholarships to its Shareholders and Descendants. Since inception, Calista has declared more than $124 million in dividends and distributions, including $10.2 million in Elders’ Benefit Program distributions to Shareholders. Calista can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.