On the same day PFD dividends hit bank accounts this year, I thawed a filet of silver salmon from the Kenai River. I remember feeling so grateful with that particular fresh, beautiful fish in my hands this August.
With the sockeye fishery closed just weeks before, I started to wonder what our freezer would look like by the end of summer. Like so many Alaskans, I measure my wealth by how full my freezer is each winter.
As I listened to news about the PFD last week and held that bright orange filet in my hands, I wondered if the security that wild salmon brings us is accurately reflected in our economy? How do we measure the wealth in our freezers or the experiences of catching our own food?
To most people, the word economy means one thing: money. It’s often reduced to a singular but nebulous entity that feels like its own being. “The Economy” is strong, or weak. “The Economy” is measured by GDP and stock tickers.
But at its roots, the word economy means much more than money: it means “management of home.” It seems obvious that how we measure our economy, or how we measure the management of our home, should include some of the fundamentals of what we all need to live: clean air, clean water, and clean food.
In our current economic structure, we have undervalued these basic necessities and done a poor job of managing them for current and future generations.
Today, big mining corporations like Pebble and oil companies like Exxon are spending millions of dollars on an ad campaign to keep the outdated salmon habitat law the way it is.
Why? Because these corporations that feed their shareholders want us to undervalue this renewable resource that feeds our families, creates communities, and sustains cultures. They want us to believe that Alaska has only one economy. They want to keep the fish habitat permitting system the way it is: a rubber stamp made behind closed doors with no clear standards.
Fortunately, a diverse group of Alaskans – from Ketchikan to Bethel to Dillingham to Soldotna – are fighting back to protect our home and make sure that we are managing our fish and water resources for future generations and for the benefit of all Alaskans.
We’re making calls, making signs, and making sure that people get to the polls and Vote YES on Ballot Measure 1. And we need you to help. Join the movement working to make sure that healthy salmon habitat is a part of our economy for generations to come. Volunteer. Donate. Talk to your friends and family. Vote YES for wild salmon.