Alaska’s Bristol Bay is a rare pristine salmon fishery. Can it survive a rapidly changing climate—and a massive, Trump-backed mine?
Coffee Point, Alaska—Anna Hoover and I ease up and down in limestone-colored water on a warm, windless afternoon in early July, our backs to the mouth of the Egegik River. She’s distracted, perched in the captain’s seat of her 32-foot drift boat. She glances at her phone, checking the time. The state manages fishing on a tight schedule here, opening the waters to fishermen and then closing them every few hours to let some salmon travel to their spawning grounds. We’ve got five minutes until we unspool our nets.
We sit 300 miles west of Anchorage in Bristol Bay, home to the largest, healthiest red salmon run on earth, where most wild-grown grocery-store fillets caught in the United States come from. Hoover’s parents and grandparents fished here, and she has been hauling reds from this fertile finger of saltwater for most of her 34 years.