Fact Sheet

Bountiful Bristol Bay

Bountiful Bristol Bay

Bristol Bay is part of the Alaska outer continental shelf and falls within a 52,000-square-mile planning area called the North Aleutian Basin, located in the triangle of waters north of the Aleutian Islands. The area comprises a marine ecosystem distinguished by bountiful fisheries and exceptional ecological diversity.

Bristol Bay MapRich, remote, wild, and incredibly productive, Bristol Bay and the southeast Bering Sea are the American seafood stronghold. The region’s waters provide habitat for some of the largest runs of wild salmon on Earth and supply on average of more than 40 percent of the total U.S. fish catch, including halibut, red king crab, Pacific cod, Tanner crab, flatfish, pollock, and sablefish. These renewable and sustainable fisheries are an economic engine for communities throughout Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, and the nation.

The American 'fish basket'

Like the breadbasket of the Midwest, this “fish basket” provides a healthy, abundant source of seafood for the nation and the world. Bristol Bay’s marine resources also support centuries-old Alaska Native subsistence traditions, local communities, fishermen, fishing families, and businesses across Alaska and the Pacific Northwest that depend on the continued health of the region’s world-class fisheries and ecosystem.

The marine ecosystem and surrounding region contain:

  • Renewable fisheries that support thousands of jobs.
  • Some of the largest wild salmon runs, including the largest sockeye run in the world.
  • Important habitat for diverse marine mammal species, including Pacific walrus, spotted and harbor seals, and 16 whale species.
  • Dozens of globally significant congregations of hundreds of millions of seabirds and waterfowl.
  • A destination tourism industry for hunting, sport fishing, and wildlife viewing.

Since 2009, Pew has worked with tribes; Alaska Native corporations and organizations; and the Fish Basket Coalition, a diverse group of Native subsistence, commercial fishing, conservation, and local community interests dedicated to a healthy and sustainable future for Bristol Bay and the Bering Sea.

The Bristol Bay marine ecosystem and surrounding region contain:

Renewable fisheries that support thousands of jobs. Renewable fisheries that support thousands of jobs.
 Some of the largest wild salmon runs, including the largest sockeye run in the world. Some of the largest wild salmon runs, including the largest sockeye run in the world.
Important habitat for a diversity of marine mammal species, including Pacific walrus, spotted and harbor seals, and 16 whale species.  Important habitat for a diversity of marine mammal species, including Pacific walrus, spotted and harbor seals, and 16 whale species.
  Dozens of globally significant congregations of hundreds of millions of seabirds and waterfowl. Dozens of globally significant congregations of hundreds of millions of seabirds and waterfowl.
  A destination tourism industry for hunting,sportfishing, and wildlife viewing.  A destination tourism industry for hunting,sportfishing, and wildlife viewing.

Media Contact:

Topics: Oceans, Environment

Project: Protecting Life in the Arctic

Places: Arctic Ocean

Media Contact

Brandon MacGillis

Officer, Communications

202.887.8830