International Game Fish Association recognizes “pivotal role” in the campaign to protect Bristol Bay.
The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) this week awarded Wild Salmon Center its Barry M Fitzpatrick Conservation Award for work to stop the Pebble Mine project in Bristol Bay, Alaska.
Bristol Bay is America’s greatest salmon stronghold, home to an annual wild sockeye salmon return that surpassed 50 million in 2020. The fishery is worth $2.2 billion annually, supporting 15,000 commercial fishing jobs, subsistence foods for 31 Alaska Native Tribes, and a globally renowned trout and salmon sportfishery.
Wild Salmon Center supporters know well that over the past year the organization has conducted extensive outreach to the angling community and political leaders of both parties to stop Pebble Mine. Working alongside key Alaskan partners, WSC is a member of the steering committee of the Bristol Bay Defense Fund and its Stop Pebble Mine campaign.
After heavy public pressure and outspoken bipartisan support for protecting Bristol Bay, including from prominent Republican sportsmen, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied Pebble a key federal permit in November.
The Pebble project is on hold while the company behind the mine appeals the Army Corps’ decision. Meanwhile, Alaskan Native Tribes and fishing, and conservation groups including WSC are pursuing permanent protections for Bristol Bay that would stop the mine for good.
The award from IGFA recognized that: The WSC played a pivotal role in political advocacy that resulted in the Army Corps of Engineers denying the permit that would have allowed the construction of Pebble Mine, which would have put one of the world’s most important wild salmon fisheries in jeopardy.
“Wild Salmon Center’s ability to rally support from the angling community was instrumental in stopping this potentially dangerous project,” said IGFA President Jason Schratwieser. “Fishermen and women everywhere are grateful for the organization’s tireless commitment to salmon and steelhead strongholds, including one of the world’s best in Bristol Bay, Alaska.”
Wild Salmon Center President and CEO Guido Rahr said: “We’re honored to receive this recognition from an organization that has been promoting conservation and responsible angling for over 80 years. From the Everglades to Bristol Bay, anglers know the value of truly special watersheds and wild places. It’s our job to band together and stand up to protect these rivers and waterways for the benefit of future generations. Now, we’ll work together to permanently protect Bristol Bay’s fisheries from future mining projects that would threaten this salmon and trout powerhouse.”
About the IGFA
Founded in 1939, The International Game Fish Association is a nonprofit organization committed to the conservation of game fish and the promotion of responsible, ethical angling practices through science, education, rule making, record keeping and recognition of outstanding accomplishments in the field of angling. The IGFA maintains world records in freshwater, saltwater, fly-fishing and junior angler categories. The IGFA has members in more than 100 countries.