Most folks understand that the bounty of the ocean is not without limit, and that we must conserve the resource to assure our grandchildren enjoy the wonder of wild fish. But there is even more at stake: we need to protect the fishermen and the traditional fishing communities they support.
As our friend Barton Seaver says “Without fishermen there is no seafood”.
President Obama recognized this on his recent Alaska visit. After renaming Mt. McKinley as Denali in honor of the indigenous people who have been sustaining their bodies and spirits with salmon for millennia, he spent a day on Bristol Bay. The home of the world’s greatest salmon run is the source of over 14,000 sustainable jobs. “That’s part of the reason why it’s so critical that we make sure that we protect this incredible natural resource,” Obama said, adding that it’s not just for the people whose livelihood depends on it but for the entire country. He said “Bristol Bay is one of the most important natural resources the United States has.”
Visiting an isolated fishing village on a grey, overcast day, the president was full of admiration as a salmon he was holding released milt, the sperm-containing fluid of a male. “You see that?” Obama declared as he gripped the fish with two hands: “Something’s got on my shoes. …”. Generally you don’t want fish spawning on your feet. He said the local fisherwoman who accompanied him said the fish was ‘happy to see me’.
On the same day, as international competition for arctic resources heats up, five Chinese Navy ships were sailing in international waters of the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska, in what Pentagon officials said was the first such foray by Beijing. Ex-Alaska governor Sarah Palin asked President Obama to “carry a big stick, not a selfie stick”. She went on; “Putin right now, he’s flagging undersea our resources, claiming them as his own. What’s America doing about it? We don’t even have a seat at the table under the Law of the Sea Treaty. We’re not even participating in fighting back, putting America first.” What Palin failed to mention is that America does not have a seat at the table under the Law of the Sea Treaty because Republicans are dead set against it. The military is for it, the State Department is for it, and Democrats are for it. But no matter how many concessions get made to their concerns, conservatives have relentlessly claimed that it’s a massive intrusion on American sovereignty and Republicans have accordingly refused to ratify it for decades. Worrisome.
One of our favorite food system disruptors is Kimball Musk, brother of Elon Musk (Tesla, SpaceX, SolarCity), who along with Chef Hugo Matheson founded The Kitchen Group in Boulder, CO. In addition to changing the food supply chain in their restaurants, The Kitchen Community impacts over 100,000 children a day with nearly 200 Learning Gardens in schools and community organizations across the country. Sea to Table is proud to be part of this most excellent effort.
All the best,
from the Dimin Family and the Sea to Table team