New Book Explores Natural Resources of Bristol Bay

A new natural resources book on Bristol Bay, supported by the Bristol Bay Partnership, explores in depth the diversity of the region’s ecosystem and its role as habitat for the world’s largest run of wild sockeye salmon.

“Bristol Bay Alaska: Natural Resources of the Aquatic and Terrestrial Ecosystems,” edited by fisheries biologist Carol Ann Woody, compiles the work of numerous scientists and researchers with years of boots on experience in the Bristol Bay watershed, and their concerns over how climate change, ocean acidification and mineral development threaten the diversity of this ecosystem.

Chapters on every facet of the ecosystem, from fish and marine mammals to moose, wolves, caribou and seabirds, and the potential for renewable energy resources call on everyone to do their part to ensure a viable economic and social future for commercial fisheries, sport anglers and hunters, and subsistence hunters and fish harvesters who reside in the region.

The book draws on the research of several dozen scientists who explain the importance of how each piece of the Bristol Bay ecosystem, like parts of a Swiss clock, contribute to the overall diversity that returns millions of salmon back to the bay every year.

The abundance of wild salmon and other wild foods allows for survival of traditional culture, diverse wildlife and vegetation, and a robust fisheries economy, all contributing the sustainability of the others.

“As an ecosystem, the currently healthy habitat of the bay supports the interactions between natural processes and the presence and abundance of all five species of Pacific salmon,” notes the chapter on essential fish habitat and estuarine processes of Bristol Bay.

The last section of the book is devoted to the non-biological resources of Bristol Bay, including the oil and gas potential of the North Aleutian Basin (Bristol Bay), copper, gold and other mineral resources within the watershed, and renewable energy resources: river hydro, wind, solar, biomass, geothermal and tidal.

Woody has skillfully edited the work of the contributing scientists and researchers to produce a very readable book on how year-round resident people and critters, and those migrating there on an annual basis have sustained the region for generations.